Nurse's aide describes final hours of H.R. McMaster's father

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- We have news of a significant development in the case involving the death of H.R. McMaster, Sr. earlier this month.

The Attorney General's Office has taken over the case following a police investigation into allegations that Mr. McMaster's treatment was mishandled and that treatment records were falsified after he died.

Action News Investigative reporter Chad Pradelli spoke to one person making those allegations in statements to police: a nurse's aide at the facility who spoke exclusively with Action News.

She described the 84-year-old's final hours.

This nurse's aide checked into Bishop White Lodge, the skilled nursing facility at Cathedral Village in Philadelphia, just before 1 a.m.

She says she immediately noticed H.R. McMaster, Sr. seated in a wheelchair in the hallway and rubbing his head.

Although she says she wasn't assigned to care for McMaster, she says she questioned fellow nurses.

"I asked what happened. She mentioned that he had fallen. I said, 'Why are we not sending him out? Why isn't 911 being called?'"

She says she was told, "You're not a nurse... don't worry about it."

McMaster was then moved to a recliner in the lounge.

The aide says she tended to her own patients. She says five hours went by, and she did not see anyone check McMaster's neurological or vital signs, which she says is the standard protocol when a resident falls, especially when there's possible head trauma.

A law enforcement source says surveillance video inside the facility backs up the aide's account.

"Did not do vital signs, did not check on him," they said.

The aide says around 6:30 a.m. she decided to check on McMaster herself.

"His color had changed, and when I noticed that and got up close to him, I was like, 'He's gone,' and immediately let the nursing station know that he is gone."

The aide claims she was then instructed to take McMaster to his room, bathe him and change his shirt and undergarments.

"'Change him to make him presentable and decent when his family comes in,'" she says she was told.

Afterward, she said she was pressured to change her witness statement to state health authorities to remove any statements about the lack of neurological or other tests.

"I wrote my statement the first time," the aide told Action News. "She tells me my statement wasn't good enough. She wanted me to 'take this out...that's too this... do that.' It seemed to me to be a cover-up."

Sources tell Action News McMaster's family was not initially told their loved one fell, and that they called authorities after hearing that McMaster might not have received appropriate care.

The Philadelphia Medical Examiner ruled McMaster's death accidental from blunt impact head trauma, but a spokesperson tells Action News negligence has not been ruled out.

The case has now been referred to the Attorney General's Office.

McMaster's daughter and son released a statement to Action News that reads, in part:

"He deserved treatment far better than he received at Cathedral Village. Our main concern is that we honor our father's memory by working with those who will hold accountable those responsible and prevent others from suffering."

Cathedral Village refused our request for an on-camera interview and refused to answer questions. But the facility did release a statement that reads, in part:

"We are fully cooperating and working with all authorities. After immediately notifying the family and appropriate authorities of the resident's death, we began our own internal investigation, which is ongoing. We offer the family our prayers and condolences for their loss. Out of respect for their privacy and due to the ongoing inquiries, however, it is inappropriate for us to share any further details."
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