Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sex abuse investigation uncovers nursing home neglect

The state investigation of patient abuse that led to the arrest of 14 nurses and aides at Northwoods Rehabilitation Center and Extended Care Facility got its start last year with an investigation of sexual abuse by a male aide.

During a six-week period in March and April 2009, investigators set up a hidden camera in the room of a 53-year-old patient identified in court documents only as S.B. What they saw led to the March 31, 2010, arrests of 14 aides and nurses on numerous felony and misdemeanor counts for not properly caring for the incapacitated patient and falsifying records to make it appear they did.

"Gundersen did not provide any information but I think that the AG's investigation of his case lead to a lot of information about the nursing home they otherwise may never have encountered," said Gundersen's attorney.

David Doyle, a spokesman for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, confirmed that the Gundersen investigation led to the probe of caregivers at the 100 New Turnpike Road facility but said he could not provide more specific information concerning an ongoing case.

Prosecutors also refused to say whether other patients besides S.B. were being neglected.

Gundersen pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree sexual abuse and was sentenced to 10 years probation earlier this year. He had to register as a sex offender and cannot work in nursing facilities.

Nine nurses and aides were arraigned in Rensselaer County Court last week after being named in a 175-count indictment charging them with falsifying business records, a felony; endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, a misdemeanor; and willful violation of health laws, a misdemeanor.

The defendants all pleaded not guilty and were released on their own recognizance. A Jan. 31 trial date was set.

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