Murder in the Intensive Care Unit
Looking back Kevin McKeon, in his opinion, made an interesting observation regarding the Einstein Medical Center investigation. Back in 1977 Dr. Martin Cherkasky, M.D., was President of Montefiore Hospital (and later became head of the city's Health and Hospital Corporation in the Koch administration, after 30 years at Montefiore), and according to McKeon, Cherkasky was a "Bronx guy." He was also tight with Mario Merola. Montefiore is affiliated with Einstein and depended on Einstein, a teaching hospital, for a lot of its staffing. A scandal at Einstein would reflect badly not only on Bronx County but also on a major city hospital like Montefiore and on the Health and Hospital Corporation which operated all the city hospitals. In McKeon's opinion, the two "Bronx guys" had every reason in the world to keep a tight lid on the suspicious deaths at Einstein. It bothered McKeon that that is possibly what it came down to. But having been a prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney and a convict, McKeon knew the guilty didn't always get their just deserts. The bad guys sometimes get away. He's still hopeful the killer will go down for the Einstein rap, but he won't be holding his breath.
Not too surprisingly, the way Eddie Dreher sees it, it's a black and white issue of crime and punishment. He said the case should have had a different outcome.
"If my office had handled this case we would have solved it," he says resolutely, "I would have put my best guys on this 24/7 and told them not to come back until they did. The DA's office handled this case like they always did — as a nine-to-five job. Homicides don't get solved by being buried in desk drawers. Maybe one of these deaths was a target and the others were done to widen the number of intended victims to confuse matters." He rattles off other possibilities, grist for a full season of Law & Order episodes.
But what really bothers Eddie Dreher about the Albert Einstein Medical Center case is that, as far as he and McKeon know, no family was ever notified that their loved one was possibly murdered.
"That really upsets me. One of these unfortunate victims' families may be destitute because of a loss of a breadwinner," Dreher lamented from his Florida home, "...or maybe there is a family on public welfare because of this crime at a public hospital. There has to be an outrage by family members by being denied the truth as to the cause of death. Someone has to be held responsible."
His outrage is contagious and he is right, of course, but has too much time passed? The two former crime fighters, Kevin McKeon and Eddie Dreher, can only hope not. Patience is the price to pay for redemption.