A man whose father died after an altercation with a fellow patient at Miami Beach's Mount Sinai Medical Center is speaking out, blaming one of South Florida’s biggest medical centers for ignoring the warning signs leading to his father’s murder.
The Mount Sinai Medical Center is a household name, generally known for saving lives and improving health, but now it’s the target of lawsuit filed after patient Alejandro Ortega wound up dead, at the hands of another patient at the hospital, according to police.
Ortega's son, Alex, is grieving and went to court to see the man charged with taking his father’s life, Andre Brown. The son and his lawyer told NBC 6 this tragedy should have been prevented and say the big hospital dropped the ball.
NBC 6 contacted Mount Sinai about the allegations and it sent a statement saying, "the safety and well-being of our patients is our top priority. But we do not comment on pending litigation."
When it comes to his dad Alejandro, these are the days Alex Ortega tries to remember, the joy between them. But the times at the beach are now gone.
"I love my father and I miss him too much," he said.
Ortega was there in court to see the man prosecutors say killed his father, Brown, who is charged with second-degree murder. Brown told police it was an act of self-defense.
It’s not only that his father was killed, it's how, and especially where it all happened that has Alex in shock. His dad was a patient at the well-respected Mount Sinai Medical Center, where Brown was his roommate. Now Ortega is bringing a lawsuit against Mount Sinai.
Ortega showed up at the end of May to visit his father and says when the staff wouldn’t take him to Alejandro, he called police. Officers arrived and reported the “victim was discovered unresponsive in the bathroom” and “bleeding from the head," according to a report.
Ortega said he thought Mount Sinai would be an excellent place for his dad as he began to need some mental health care. He never expected his dad to be killed there.
Coral Gables attorney Robert Pelier filed the legal action on behalf of the Ortega family. The lawsuit says Mount Sinai placed Brown, a convicted felon and violent and dangerous person, in the same room with Alejandro without the proper security or supervision.
"This could have been a wholly avoidable loss of life. My client is devastated," Pelier said.
The suit also says on prior visits the son noticed "obvious physical injury to his father," contusions to his eye and deep bruising, and that the hospital was told directly there was fear for Mr. Ortega’s welfare.
"My client thought that his father was going to be safe and he wasn’t. And not only that, my client actually alerted the hospital that they needed to scrutinize the security as to his dad. They failed to do so," Pelier said. "It’s truly a tragedy that could have been avoided."
The family says these warnings were giving multiple times and even on the day before Mr. Ortega died. NBC 6's check of the court records also shows when Brown was arrested police were looking for him on a felony warrant that had been issued.