By ALEXANDRA VILLARREAL and MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A nurse was charged Thursday in the death of the father of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser after authorities said she failed to give him a series of neurological exams following his fall at a Philadelphia senior care facility.
Christann Shyvin Gainey, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, neglect and records tampering in the death of H.R. McMaster Sr.
The 84-year-old retired U.S. Army officer died April 13, about eight hours after falling and hitting his head at the Cathedral Village retirement community.
Surveillance video showed that Gainey, who worked as a contract nurse at Cathedral Village, failed to conduct a series of eight neurological evaluations of McMaster as required, prosecutors said. Gainey then allegedly falsified documents to make it seem she had.
Gainey’s attorney, Sharon Piper, said her client intends to plead not guilty. She declined further comment, as did Gainey’s employer, General Healthcare Resources of Plymouth Meeting.
McMaster’s son, H.R. McMaster Jr., served as Trump’s national security adviser from February 2017 until he resigned in March.
“Our father … was a tough and compassionate soldier and public servant,” McMaster’s daughter, Letitia McMaster, said in a statement. “The best way to honor his memory is for all of us to do all we can to prevent others from suffering at the hands of those who lack compassion and abandon even the most basic standards of human decency. Today’s charges are an important step forward in that connection.”
McMaster was admitted to Cathedral Village on April 9 for rehabilitation following a stroke. Three days later, according to court documents, he was found on the floor of his room by a nursing assistant, who alerted Gainey, the charge nurse.
Cathedral Village policy mandates close neurological monitoring of patients who hit their heads, including assessments every 15 minutes for the first hour and every hour for the next three.
An assistant nursing director told police that after McMaster’s death, she asked Gainey whether the nurse had conducted the required evaluations of McMaster. Gainey replied she had and said, “They were fine,” according to a police affidavit.
When the supervisor noted the last entry on McMaster’s neurological chart indicated that an evaluation had been performed 20 minutes after his death, Gainey told her, “Well, I falsified that one,” the affidavit said.
Police reviewed about eight hours of surveillance video and concluded Gainey had failed to perform a single neurological exam.
A medical examiner ruled McMaster died of “blunt impact head trauma.”
“Gainey could have saved Mr. McMaster’s life had she simply done her job. Instead, she intentionally ignored her job responsibilities, falsified paperwork, and lied to her supervisors to cover up this inexcusable conduct,” Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference Thursday.
Cathedral Village said in a statement last week that it removed “outside agency staff involved in the incident,” re-educated staff on neurological checks and protocols for responding to suspected abuse and neglect, and began a new initiative to prevent falls.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health inspected Cathedral Village after McMaster’s death, but the results aren’t yet available.
Featured Image: In this July 31, 2017, file photo, national security adviser H.R. McMaster listens during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington. A long-simmering dispute between two top White House aides has boiled into a public battle over the direction President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, as a cadre of conservatives groups are pushing for the ouster of McMaster.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Rubinkam reported from northeastern Pennsylvania.