An elderly woman died after being punched inside a Brooklyn hospital by a patient who was angry that the woman was not maintaining a proper distance, police say.
The New York Post reported that the 86-year-old woman named Janie Marshall was at Woodhull Medical Center to be treated for a bowel blockage when another patient allegedly grew angry that the woman was not “social distancing” — keeping the recommended six feet apart in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The report noted that the 32-year-old patient got out of a nearby bed and smacked Marshall in the face, causing the elderly woman to fall and strike her head on the floor.
The Washington Post identified the alleged attacker as Cassandra Lundy, and the New York Post noted that the accused woman had a record of 17 previous arrests, many of them for trespassing.
The alleged attacker, who was in the hospital awaiting psychiatric treatment, told a police officer that the woman “didn’t stay more than six feet away,” the New York Post added. Marshall was sent for a CT scan following her fall and was later found slumped over and pronounced dead from the head injury.
The alleged attacker was initially issued a summons by a hospital police officer for disorderly conduct and later left the hospital without being admitted. The case was later forwarded to the NYPD, and police are now seeking to arrest the alleged attacker on upgraded charges.
The hospital system said it was working with police on the investigation.
“We are committed to ensuring a safe, health-focused environment in these very demanding times so our heroic health care workers can continue to deliver the quality, compassionate care New Yorkers need more than ever,” the statement said. “We are collaborating with the NYPD in their investigation.”
The incident came as New York’s hospitals have become overwhelmed with patients suffering from COVID-19, leading officials to begin building makeshift emergency hospitals. Crews began constructing extra hospital space in Central Park on Sunday, with the field hospital expected to be completed by Tuesday to handle patient overflow from the Mount Sinai Hospital system.
Marshall’s death hit hard for neighbors, who remembered her as a kind and generous person.
“She would always ask me if she could do something for me,” a neighbor told the New York Post.
The Washington Post noted that she was a longtime Williamsburg resident and helped established the neighborhood’s Sunshine Community Garden in the early 1990s.