Life at Oceanview Manor Home for Adults is at the center of the latest court battle involving the New York State Department of Health.
The knifing happened the night of May 2, just inside the “smoking room” at Oceanview Manor, home to dozens of mentally ill adults in Coney Island, Brooklyn. A dispute between two residents had ended with one slashed on the neck and hand. Police officers, regulars at the address off Surf Avenue, soon arrived. The victim was taken to a hospital; the assailant was questioned, and he gave up the knife. No one was arrested.
Emergency responders were back at Oceanview Manor at least five times over the following week. On May 11, the city’s coroners were required when a man was discovered dead in Room 406. The arrival of the medical personnel set off a mix of curiosity and bickering among the home’s residents, some of whom did not like having the weekly movie interrupted. It took several hours before the resident was taken out in a body bag, but information about the death was scarce.
Three days later, shortly after dawn on Mother’s Day, Diane Jenkins, 57, was dead, as well. She had been at the home for just two weeks. Residents barely knew her. None knew how she’d died.
Homes such as Oceanview have been the subject of scandal and promised reform for years. Newspaper exposes and a federal lawsuit nearly two decades ago revealed that the homes, once envisioned as humane alternatives to New York’s troubled psychiatric hospitals, had effectively devolved into places of neglect and misery.
Conditions in some of the largest homes were unsanitary and dangerous. Residents were often exploited by the owners of the for-profit homes as well as by a variety of unscrupulous medical providers eager to bilk government health care programs. People incapable of giving their consent were forced into needless surgery. Podiatrists billed hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing little more than trimming toenails.
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