On Wednesday, February 27th, Ancora Psychiatric Hospital patient, Felicia DeBraux died at the William B. Kessler Memorial Hospital in Hammonton, NJ. The 45-year-old from Atlantic City, NJ, had been a patient at the poorly managed hospital for an unknown period of time. According to a Camden County spokesperson the cause of death is still unknown.

An Atlantic City attorney, Stephen Hankin, was asked to help by one of DeBraux’s brothers. He had read a Gannett NJ newspaper synopsis on patient conditions at Ancora and DeBraux’s death was not mentioned in Thursday’s legislative hearing.

Although, DeBraux’s cause of death is unknown, it is being treated as a natural death.

“There was no calculated attempt to withhold this death, but it’s not the kind of death we normally throw into the public arena,” says Ellen Lovejoy, spokesperson for the Department of Human Services.

“The department made all required notifications” about DeBraux’s death, she added.

Many family members said they did not know DeBraux had been an Ancora patient, but expressed favoring words about her “reserved and quiet” demeanor.

This event is yet another blemish on the tarnished reputation of the facility.

In September 2007, convicted killer, William Enman, walked out unnoticed, but was found two days later on the grounds.

Another killer, DeWitt Crandell Jr., disappeared on December 9, 2007. After his return, he committed suicide by hanging in the bathroom, even with two assigned guards on watch.

Ronald K. Chen, a New Jersey Public Advocate, recommends Ancora “reduce the number of patients, find a new team to run the facility and better train staff.”

Felicia DeBraux’s funeral is at 7:30 tonight and she will be buried at 10am Thursday at Seaside Cemetery in Palermo, NJ.

Tamika M. Murray

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