69°F
weather icon Clear

Suicidal patient dies after quick release from North Las Vegas hospital

Updated August 17, 2018 - 9:33 pm

Tears streamed down Josefina Pacheco’s face as she stepped into a dark room with three tiny beds. The smell of cigarettes lingered in the air, and a blanket over the window blocked the afternoon light.

Her 48-year-old niece, Ethel Christian Girard Mateos, suffocated herself with a plastic bag. in that room.

Mateos was severely mentally ill and went to North Vista Hospital for help. The hospital released her to an unregulated group home just one day before she killed herself.

Her death marked the second time in six months that a suicidal patient died less than 24 hours after being released by the North Las Vegas hospital to a group home without supervision or contacting family members.

“They killed Ethel,” Pacheco said as she choked back tears. “They should have kept her there at the hospital or found another place where they could treat her better. She’s not an animal. She’s a human being.”

In February, North Vista released 33-year-old Rayshauna Roy to a person she did not know who had been paid to take her to an unregulated group home. Roy was found dead the next day. In 2015, hospital staff sent Robby Risher home on a bus after he threatened to drive his car into a wall. Two hours later, he killed himself by driving into a pole.

The hospital also has come under fire for allegations of patient abuse. A recent state investigation found hospital workers failed to report suspected abuse.

Mateos, a mother of three, struggled with depression her entire life, but things got worse after her divorce nine years ago, Pacheco said.

“It got bad because she was away from the children,” Pacheco said.

She was in and out of hospitals for months. Doctors prescribed pills, but things weren’t getting better. Mateos, who used to work as a preschool aide, ended up at North Vista after a suicide attempt last month.

One hospital worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Mateos was on suicide watch and tried to kill herself by swallowing bottle caps the day before she was released. The worker said they called Dr. Kevin Bernstein, the hospital’s psychiatrist, for an evaluation and “begged” him not to release Mateos.

Pacheco said Bernstein and the hospital’s “risk management” director called her the day after Mateos had killed herself.

Bernstein did not return calls and emails for comment.

The hospital sent Mateos to the group home in a taxi around 9:30 p.m. Aug. 6, Pacheco said. She was discovered dead the next day by a “house manager” who lives off-site.

“I went to the room because she needed to take her medication and I was getting ready to give it to her,” said the house manager, who requested anonymity because her home is unlicensed and group homes that administer medication must obtain a state license.

John Beard, who suffers from depression and bipolar disorder, is one of two men who live there. They stay inside their rooms all day — and that’s where he was when Mateos died.

“She wasn’t even here 24 hours, and she killed herself. That’s just ridiculous,” Beard said. “She should’ve still been in the hospital. That’s the way I see it.”

Mateos’ family blames the hospital for sending her to a group home without notifying them.

“The day before, the nurse told us she had bottle caps inside her mouth, trying to get them all in her mouth. She was in no condition to leave,” said Priscilla Pacheco, Mateos’ cousin. “Why would they feel she was in a position to be released? Is it the capacity of the hospital? Or the type of insurance? I guarantee that has something to do with it because in the end it’s all about money. They put her in a cab and sent her off to her death.”

Hospital spokeswoman Susan Olson declined to comment, citing patient privacy laws.

“North Vista has never based the degree of care on whether a patient had medical insurance or not, and would never knowingly discharge a suicidal patient,” Olson said. “Our hearts grieve for families who lose their loved ones.”

Olson added that Nevada hospitals are overwhelmed by the “sheer volume of mental health patients flooding emergency rooms.”

Tony Wright, the father of Rayshauna Roy, said Friday he was horrified to hear that another suicidal woman appears to have been hastily released from North Vista.

“People with mental illness are looked at as objects,” he said, “instead of human beings.”

Contact Ramona Giwargis at rgiwargis@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4538. Follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Jurors hear opening statements in Reid personal injury trial
Opening statements were made on Tuesday in the product liability lawsuit brought by Harry Reid against against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Mayor Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels
Mayor Carolyn Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels to seniors on March 26, 2019.
Las Vegas City Council Ward 1 race
Candidates for Las Vegas City Council Ward 1. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Moody’s boosts credit rating for North Las Vegas

The move signals financial stability in the city’s rebound from junk bond status, saving nearly $500,000 a year on refinanced city bonds.