A 59-year-old St. Elizabeths Hospital patient died Saturday of injuries and ensuing complications suffered in a struggle with five hospital workers six days earlier after the patient became "combative," D.C. police and hospital officials reported yesterday.
Charles Napp, a Southeast resident who voluntarily entered the hospital a week before the incident, was found unconscious in a seclusion room on May 2, police said.
According to police sources, Napp was bleeding from his mouth and nose and had a severely cut tongue when he was taken from isolation to St. Elizabeth's intensive care unit about an hour after the 8:30 a.m. scuffle.
The D.C. medical examiner's office said Napp died of blows to the neck and pneumonia.
St. Elizabeths spokesman Harold Thomas said Napp had become "combative" and "threatening" on the day of the scuffle. Two nursing assistants attempted to subdue him, but were able to do so only with the aid of three other workers, summoned from another ward of the facility's Dix Building, authorities said.
Thomas said hospital officials initiated a police investigation of the incident last Friday. Napp was conscious, but able to communicate with police only through a lip reader because of the tongue injury, Thomas said.
Napp was the second St. Elizabeths patient in a year to die violently in an incident involving staff members. Last September 66-year-old Robert Davis was found fatally beaten in a seclusion room, following an altercation with a nursing assistant. The worker, Janice Little, was indicated for second-degree murder in the case, and is awaiting trial.
At the time of Davis' death, hospital officials said he had possibly been beaten by other patients before staff members put him in seclusion. Napp, the officials said yesterday, might have bitten his own tongue in the struggle. Hospital spokesman Thomas said Napp had no teeth.
Police said Napp's death is still under investigation and will be presented to a grand jury.
St. Elizabeths officials would provide no information on Napp's psychiatric condition, the kind of treatment he received at the hospital, or about his background. Thomas said Napp had been admitted previously, in 1956 and 1965.
Dorothy Dennis, Napp's sister, said her brother had been a patient at St. Elizabeths "many times" before. He signed himself in the last time, on April 26, after he became upset and tried to climb through a neighbor's window near his apartment at 1232 Savannah Pl. SE, Dennis said.
Dennis said her brother, a retired D.C. General Hospital orderly and World War II Navy veteran, had mistaken a child in the neighbor's home for his 29-year-old daughter.
Napp's illness dated back to his daughter's childhood, when he "started hearing voices" because he "was worried about his daughter" after separating from his wife, Dennis said.
The sister said Napp was arrested last August on a charge of assault and "pleaded guilty to slapping his common-law wife." She said he was confined for several months at the D.C. jail, spent a month in the Ugast facility for the criminally insane and was released to her custody last January.
Dennis said Napp was "walking and talking to himself," and continued to visit St. Elizabeths for medicine and treatment until he was readmitted last month.
Napp was one of 227 in-patients at the Area D Community Mental Health Center, one of four such facilities in the District, and the only one operated by St. Elizabeths. Area D serves Southeast Washington residents.
"We will do all we can to cooperate with the (police) investigation," St. Elizabeths acting superintendent Dr. Roger Peele said yesterday. "We have no decision that a crime has been committed and we ask that no hospital staff be prejudged.'