New York, NY - March 25, 2014 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today filed criminal charges against 10 employees of the Blossom North Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rochester, N.Y., following an investigation into their treatment of a nursing home resident. The investigation, which relied on a hidden camera placed in the patient’s room, revealed a disturbing pattern of pervasive neglect. The six nurses and four nursing assistants are charged with a variety of felony and misdemeanor counts and will be arraigned Friday in Rochester City Court. One additional nurse is expected to face similar charges in connection with the same investigation.
The victim in this case, identified in court papers only as “M.P.” in order to protect his family’s privacy, was a double, above-the-knee amputee who also suffered from partial upper body paralysis, type-2 diabetes, impaired cognition, blood pressure fluctuation, glaucoma and other ailments. He was completely dependent on the nursing staff of Blossom North, located at 1335 Portland Avenue, for his care. The investigation was conducted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) at the request of the victim’s son, who became suspicious that his father was being mistreated. The victim has since passed away.
“Nursing home residents are among our state’s most vulnerable citizens and the perpetual neglect in this case is shameful” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today’s charges send a message that we will not tolerate anyone being neglected by those responsible for their care and will use every tool in our arsenal, including hidden cameras, to ensure that those most in need of help are safely cared for and treated with respect and dignity.”
According to the video footage recorded by the Attorney General’s Office, both nurses and certified nurse’s aides routinely ignored their duties relative to the resident and his documented needs. For instance, on a number of occasions during the surveillance period, nurses allegedly failed to dispense prescription medications, measure blood sugar and blood pressure levels or properly care for the resident’s catheter. Aides allegedly neglected the resident’s incontinence care and his prescribed range of motion exercises and several are alleged to have transferred him in a potentially unsafe manner. In some instances, the resident had no hands-on care during the aides’ entire shifts and was left to lay immobile in his bed for hours at a time. The nurses and aides then allegedly falsified documents in an effort to conceal their neglect.
The complaints, filed in Rochester City court, charge two Registered Nurses, four Licensed Practical Nurses and four Certified Nurse Aides with crimes including Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a class E Felony); Willful Violation of the Public Health Law; and in some cases, Endangering the Welfare of a Physically Disabled Person. A class E felony carries a prison sentence of up to 4 years.
The six nurses charged are Junetta Jenkins, Jasmine Franco, Champagne Anderson and Savannah Harding of Rochester, Binita Dahal of Brooklyn and Faye Aguillon of Elmhurst, Queens. The four nursing assistants charged are Rochester residents Krista Stevenson, Christy Holmes, Elizabeth Acevedo and Iesha Short.
The charges against these defendants are merely accusations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case was investigated by Special Investigator Debra Clementi and Associate Special Auditor-Investigator Jamie Russell-Thomas, with assistance from MFCU Deputy Chief Investigator William Falk. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Jennifer Sommers and Catherine Wagner of the MFCU Rochester Regional Office. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is led by Acting MFCU Director Amy Held. The Criminal Justice Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.