Two employees of the New York State Veterans Home at Montrose, a 252-bed facility located in Westchester County, were arrested in June 2014 for allegedly neglecting an elderly dementia patient under their care. The employees apparently tried to cover up their neglect by falsifying the patient’s medical records. Licensed practical nurse (LPN) Joyce Opoku, 41, was charged with two counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, and one count of Wilful Violation of Health Laws, a misdemeanor. Certified nurse assistant (CNA) Isabelle Todman, 62, was charged with four counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree and three counts of Wilful Violation of Health Laws. Both employees could face up to four years in prison if convicted of the felony charges. They were both released on their own recognizance after their arraignments.
According to investigators, Opoku and Todman were responsible for taking care of an elderly resident on May 1, 2013. The resident, an 84-year-old Korean War veteran who suffered from dementia and Parkinson’s disease, needed to be repositioned in his bed very two hours during the night in order to prevent pressure sores. His care plan stated that two staff members were required to safely reposition him. In addition, the resident, who was identified as being at risk for falls, had an alarm in his mattress that would sound if he got out of bed on his own. Video surveillance footage showed that Todman only repositioned the patient once during the night and didn’t have the help of another staff member. However, Todman indicated in the patient’s chart that she repositioned him three times with the help of another employee. Opoku indicated that she checked on the patient’s bed alarm twice during the night. Video footage showed that she never checked on the resident.
The next morning, the patient was found on the floor next to his bed. He died a short time later. An autopsy report stated that he died of natural causes and that his death was unrelated to his fall or the result of being neglected.
Commenting on the nursing home employees’ arrest, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman remarked, “For a health care professional, there is no more important duty than providing care to patients who are fully dependent on them–in this case an ailing veteran of the Korean Conflict. My office will pursue individuals who assume the responsibility of providing care to those in need and then not only fail to provide that care, but falsify records to conceal their failure.”
In 2012, the facility was fined $8,000 for having multiple deficiencies. In 2009, the facility was also fined $8,000 for providing substandard care to residents.