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Nine Arrested in Connection with Long Island Nursing Home Death

Jul 8, 2014

A total of nine people have been arrested in connection with the death of a Long Island nursing home resident. The state attorney general office is investigating the situation and prosecutors say that one of the nine is being charged with criminally negligent homicide, Eyewitness News reports.

In October 2012, 72-year old Aurelia Rios died at Medford Multicare Center. She had gone to the facility for rehabilitation after being hospitalized for a breathing disorder. According to ABC7, her doctor ordered that she be connected to a ventilator; but when warning alarms blared for two hours indicating that she was disconnected, nobody responded. To make matters worse, prosecutors allege that the staff tried to cover up the negligence and told her daughter, Michelle Giamarino, that she died of a heart attack.

"I just pray that she was asleep. I don't want her to be awake, try to scream and no sound came out," Giamarino said to Eyewitness News.

Seven of the arrests occurred in February, including registered nurse Kimberly Lappe, 31, of Medford; licensed practical nurse Victoria Caldwell, 51, of Medford; aide Christina Corelli, 37, of East Patchogue; aide Patricia DiGiovanni, 62, of Port Jefferson; licensed administrator David Fielding, 56, of West Lido Beach; director of respiratory therapy Christine Boylan, 49, of Mastic; and respiratory therapist Kethlie Joseph, 62, of Brentwood. Marianne Fassino, 53, of Shirley and Leona Gordon, 35, of Medford, were also recently arrested.

Fassino was the one in charge of the facility's ventilator on the night of Rios' death. She is now facing felony charges. Gordon, who is also facing charges, was responsible for watching the monitor's alarms to ensure they were answered as soon as possible.

“The negligence alleged in this case is criminal and will not be tolerated in New York nursing homes,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. “Today’s indictment sends a clear message: We will arrest those who put our most vulnerable citizens in harm’s way, and in particular those who neglect or deny life-saving medical treatment to patients. We must and will do everything in our power to protect our nursing home residents from abuse.”

Schneiderman filed a civil lawsuit against the nursing home owners earlier this year, alleging that they committed corportate looting and fraud while denying quality care to residents. The release reads: “the civil complaint details how Medford’s owners lined their pockets with millions in public Medicaid funds while turning a blind eye to persistent neglect of residents by senior management and staff. Since opening Medford in 2003, the owners systematically looted the facility by paying themselves at least $60 million, representing 22 percent of the Medicaid funding they received in that time.”

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