The victim, identified in court papers only as “LM” in order to protect his family’s privacy, was a 56-year-old resident who suffered from Huntington’s chorea, a neurological disease that left the resident completely non-ambulatory and bedridden. He was totally dependent on the nursing staff of Highpointe for his care.
“Nursing home residents are among our state’s most vulnerable citizens, and the perpetual neglect in this case is shameful,” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said. “The charges filed send the message that my office will not tolerate anyone being neglected by those responsible for his or her care. We will use every tool in our arsenal, including hidden cameras, to ensure that nursing home residents receive the care they need and the respect they deserve.”
According to video footage recorded by the Attorney General’s Office, both nurses and certified nurse’s aides routinely ignored their duties regarding the resident and his documented needs. For instance, on a number of occasions during the surveillance period, nurses failed to dispense pain medication and check on the resident. Aides neglected to check on the resident, failed to give him liquids and failed to perform incontinent care. The nurses and aides then falsified documents in an effort to conceal their neglect.
The nurses and aides were charged with Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (class E felony), Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree (class E felony) and Wilful Violation of Public Health Laws. A class E felony carries a prison sentence of up to 4 years.
16 of the 17 charged were arraigned in Buffalo City Court Friday. They all pleaded not guilty. The 17th was out of state and not arraigned today.
The 17 employees charged are:
- Natalie Galbo, 30, RN, Amherst
- Shateeka Stevens, 39, LPN, Cheektowaga
- Michael Howell, 40, LPN, Buffalo
- Heidi Bowens, 41, LPN, Buffalo
- Rochelle McNeair-Tisdale, 55, LPN, Buffalo
- Jamie Cunningham, 26, LPN, Buffalo
- Cynthia Kozlowski, 60, LPN, Getzville
- Marlene Sims, 58, LPN, Cheektowaga
- Rubetta Harrell, CNA, 54, Cheektowaga
- Nicole Baker, 35, CNA, Buffalo
- Tiffany Heard-Williams, 35, CNA, Buffalo
- Ruteasha McCray, 35, CNA, Buffalo
- Kenissa Henderson, 27, CNA, Buffalo
- Mariah Robinson, 20, CNA, Buffalo
- Margaret Glass, 23, CNA, Buffalo
- Amanda Stuart, 34, CNA, Sloan
- Hazell Clegatt, 43, CNA, Buffalo