Attorney General Eric T. Schniderman announced the arrest and arraignment of four former nursing aids in Oswego, NY on September 15, 2016. The aids were arrested for cases regarding nursing home abuse at two Oswego nursing homes. All four aids were charged with misdemeanors and felonies for taking “undignified” photographs and videos of residents at Pontiac Nursing Home and St. Luke Health Services; both facilities have strict policies forbidding cell phone use. A.G. Schneiderman stated that residents of nursing homes and their families deserve peace of mind knowing their loved ones are being properly cared for and respected by their caregivers. He continued to say recording residents for amusement is a “blatant violation” of residents trust and privacy in a place they call home.
In one case, nursing aids Matthew Reynolds and Angel Rood, former employees of Pontiac, took demeaning photographs of a resident using an iPhone. A.G. Schneiderman said there were multiple pictures showed Reynolds and Rood lying in bed with the resident and touching them in a “taunting and abusive manner.” John Ognibene, Administrator at Pontic fired both aids immediately. Ognibene stated the staff at Pontiac is educated in patient rights during orientation as well as at their annual inservice training. Inservice training reviews the restriction using cell phones, social media and taking photographs of residents. Ognibene continued to say any violation of the policies or implementation of them is unacceptable.
In the second case, aids Austin Powell and Brittany Bolster filmed themselves physically and verbally tormenting a resident. One video, recorded by Powell, shows him and co-defendant Bolster touching a residents nose repeatedly and taunting her, causing the resident to become extremely upset and agitated. As a result of their taunting, the resident experienced emotional trauma and lashed out in a violent manner to stop the abuse, which could have caused her to physically harm herself. A statement was released by St. Luke Administrator and CEO, Terrence Gorman Powell states was fired in February 2015 and Bolster was fired a year later for being seen in the video and not reporting the incident. In an effort to prevent something like this from happening again, Gorman said they will be vigorously reviewing existing policies and have additional inservice training related to resident’s right to safety and privacy.
All four aids were charged with Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent of Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, a class E felony, and two counts of Willful Violation of the Public Health Law, an unclassified misdemeanor. They were released on their own recognizance and have appearances scheduled for October 19, 2016.
Gallivan & Gallivan is a law firm dedicated to holding nursing homes accountable for abuse. If you or a loved one has experienced abuse in a nursing home, please contact the aggressive and experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan.