LI nursing home employees charged

October 7, 2008 3:42:12 PM PDT
An investigation using hidden surveillance cameras inside a Long Island nursing home has led to criminal neglect and other charges against four employees, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday. The employees of Medford Multicare Center for Living in Suffolk were accused of failing to move and turn over a patient for hours on end, Cuomo said. The employees also denied the patient water and left him sitting in his own waste, the attorney general said.

Two licensed practical nurses and two certified nurses aides were charged with felony counts of falsifying business records and misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a physically disabled person.

An attorney for one of the accused vehmently denied the allegations of wrongdoing, but suggested if prosecutors wanted to target anyone, it should be nursing home management.

"She didn't make any independent decisions about care," said attorney Oscar Michelen, who represents Rima Chaudhry, an LPN who pleaded not guilty at her arraignment in District Court in Central Islip. Suffolk County officials did not immediately have information on the arraignments of the other three defendants.

"There was no harm to the patient," Michelen protested. "They are going after people who had no authority."

A woman answering the administrator's telephone in Medford said the nursing home had no comment.

Cuomo's investigation also found the four employees falsified records. Michelen said his client did enter false information on the patient's chart about failing to administer a heart medication, but only did so at the direction of her supervisor because the facility did not have the medication in stock.

Prosecutors also contend that the workers failed to change the resident at least every two hours, leaving him in his own waste for as long as seven hours at a time. They also said that at one point during the surveillance, which took place for about six weeks in early 2007, the resident had not been showered for more than a week.

The defendants were released without bail and are due back in court on March 20. Cuomo said the investigation was continuing and further arrests were expected.

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