‘This is an outrage:’ Elderly LICH patient still missing amid shock over hospital’s incompetence

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

COBBLE HILL (PIX11) —  He belongs in a hospital, not on the streets.

However, that is where Celso Heredia presumably is tonight, on the streets of a city he does not know.

PIX11 News was the first to  report the disappearance of the 81-year-old man on Wednesday.

“Celso vanished in there and nobody knew where he went,” said Josefina Novarro, a medical worker who last saw Heredia nearly a week ago.

Less than 48 hours after PIX11 News exposed LICH’s handling of Heredia, the hospital lost him.

NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was shell-shocked at the incompetence of officials after our report.

“It’s absolutely abusive to send an 81-year-old man out on the street, in a city he doesn’t know, without the mental capacity to handle the situation.”

The NYPD issued a Silver Alert hours after they received a call about 3:30 p.m from the private security team at LICH.  The hospital, which had a security detail of 58 for the day, admitted that they could not locate Heredia.

Detectives out of the 76th Precinct along with a K-9 unit were brought in to try and find the Mexican national.

Heredia, who speaks no English, was admitted on June 15 after he was picked up walking along the eastbound lane of the BQE by the NYPD.

All he had on him was a bag of possessions and $300.

He was admitted to LICH and diagnosed with “Altered Mental Status,”

PIX 11 News learned that Heredia’s only address listed is a P.O. box in Fort Pierce, Florida.  The New York Times reported that he had a connection to the address of 108th North Eighth Street in Ft. Pierce, but in a call with PIX11 News, the landlord who has rented out the property for more than 10 years confirmed that she does not know him.

As for the next of kin? He has none.

However, what adds more intrigue to the case is the one-way nonrefundable Greyhound bus ticket from New York City to Fort Pierce.  The trip was to last 27 hours and include three transfers.

The ticket was purchased on the Internet with a Visa card for a Celso Heredia.

He never made it.

The doctor who conducted Heredia’s late night discharge at 11 P.M. last Thursday confirmed to PIX11 News that the hospital had purchased the ticket.  The doctor then added that the hospital was working on purchasing an airline ticket for Heredia.

On Tuesday, hours after the initial report aired, PIX11 News learned from a source inside of the attorney general’s office that the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is now investigating the case.

Elderly patient who disappeared from hospital in crisis still missing“Indefensible” is how Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., the chairman of the City’s Public Safety Committee, describes the case adding, “This is an outrage.  It was clear that the plan from the beginning was to lose this poor man.”

DR. NG Berrill, a forensic psychiatrist considered by many as a foremost expert in his field, said Heredia’s leaving behind his belongings and $300 speaks volumes.

“It’s peculiar behavior.  It suggests that there is poor planning skills, perhaps impulsivity, it smacks of the kind of confused state that one often finds in demented patients.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, a law enforcement source informed PIX 11 News that they have video of Heredia exiting LICH. The source added that the exit requires a code.

The source also included that Heredia does have a $318 check on him from LICH but adds, “How can he cash it if he has no ID?”

LICH had no comment today on the Heredia’s disappearance.



  • natalie

    Mr. Diaz, "The Hospital" LICH did not do this. SUNY Downstate officials are responsible for what is happening at LICH. Please make the distinction. LICH is nationally ranked as the #2 hospital in Brooklyn. The actions that SUNY Downstate officials have been assaulting LICH with are reprehensible and the total disregard for the welfare of the people of Brooklyn and the patients at LICH is abhorrent. I don't know which is worse – SUNY Downstate's attack on LICH, its patients and community, or the utter silence of Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo as they stand by watching Brooklyn residents be placed at extreme risk at the hands of SUNY.


      LICH is NOT under investigation – SUNY Downstate administration is under investigation for its actions at LICH. Theres a difference there. The hospital is not buying tickets to remove this man – the SUNY Downstate Administration is. Please do not smear the good name of LONG ISLAND COLLEGE HOSPITAL LICH for things that SUNY Downstate is doing to it & causing to happen at it.

    • Dutch Schults

      I have worked fopr a Large Hospital syste in the Midwest with a total of 8 hospitals and 100 clinics in the system. Hospitals don't "write checks" or "buy plane tickets" for ANY patients let alone those with dimensia. The closest to that would be allowing a patient to use a hospital phone to do it themselves. They are lying, period.

  • DisgustedwithSUNY

    Funny thing is if this patient is admitted to the unit with Alt. Mental Status why was he not on a 1:1 watch? Why was his room down the hall near an unlocked door to the stairs when all the other patients were moved the night before to the Nursing station? The SUNY Administration bought him that ticket because they know once they close the hospital that patient would be tranferred to Downstate. A patient like this would take months to place. All the patients on the floor he was one are long term patients that SUNY can't get rid of. THeyre is way more security on duty than mentioned in your article. They have State police, Lich Security, NYPD and a private security company in Suits. (bunch of goons) An employee can't get in but a patient can elope no problem. The security is also assigned to that floor. They are too busy watching the staff go to the bathroom and their lockers. THey think the staff are going to steal something. This is the future of Brooklyn's Healthcare under Andrew Cuomo. Meanwhile, he is fishing and rafting.

  • Scottish

    this article is so poorly written, what does LICH stand for? for those of us that don't live in your area. and what date was he admitted, what dates for anything, where is your editor?

  • Amiee

    So every crazy homeless person belongs in a hospital now? They are out there because we closed all the mental hospitals for being cruelly underfunded. Now you want them back in?

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.