Nursing Home Workers Charged by Attorney General

Four nursing home workers caught on tape mistreating a patient  were charged yesterday with falsifying records and endangering a resident at a Suffolk County facility familiar with such problems, according to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.  This case represents the fourth recent <"">nursing home abuse case in the state, it is the first to originate out of the New York City area in which hidden camera technology was used to obtain evidence against nursing home employees, Cuomo says.

Cuomo said the hidden camera technology has been used upstate, producing 26 convictions and forcing one nursing home into receivership.  Cuomo also said that small cameras are installed at facilities across Long Island.  “We’re going to be using this technology aggressively,” he said.  “It gives us a whole new avenue for making these cases,” Cuomo added.  In the recent case, the tiny camera was placed in the room of an 84-year-old man at Long Island’s Medford Multicare Center for Living.  Investigators monitored the camera feed from January to March in 2007, officials said.

The charging documents state that the camera revealed that
Betty Cheslak, 52, of Rocky Point, a certified nursing aide, was talking on a cell phone while using a machine to transfer the patient from a wheelchair to the bed.  Cheslak roughly bumped the patient’s head against the railing and did not turn him to prevent pressure sores nor help him with exercises.  Also, Jacqueline Francis, 45, of Jamaica, Queens, a certified nursing aide, changed the man’s underwear only once during an eight-hour shift, despite that she was required to change him once every two hours; Francis neglected to shower him and did not turn him in bed. 

Rima Chaudhry, 46, of Smithtown, and Toni Miller, 37, of Middle Island, who are both licensed practical nurses, failed to take the man’s heart rate before giving him heart medication and failed to give him water through his gastronomy tube.  Apparently, Chaudhry did not give the patient his medication at times because the facility had run out; however, she later marked records indicating
that the medications had been withheld by doctors.

All four healthcare workers were arraigned in First District Court in Central Islip and were charged with endangering the welfare of a physically disabled person, a misdemeanor.  They were also charged with falsifying records for changing documents to show they provided treatment when they actually did not, a felony.  All four workers pleaded not guilty and were released without bail.  Cuomo declined to release video evidence, but at a Mineola news conference yesterday, he showed another hidden camera video that led to criminal charges at a Rochester facility.

Meanwhile, the 320-bed Medford facility has faced accusations of patient mistreatment previously and was fined $6,000 by the state Department of Health in 2003 for care lapses that included not hydrating patients.  In 2004, it was fined $2,000 for pressure sores, and had 47 violations in its latest inspections, which is nearly double the state average.  Mordechai Klein, of Brooklyn, the facility’s majority owner according to Health Department records, was in Israel Tuesday and could not be reached. 
  Cuomo said the investigation was ongoing. The facility could face civil charges, officials said.

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