- Associated Press - Friday, April 25, 2014

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Eight nurses and nine nurse’s aides were charged Friday with endangering the welfare of a nursing home patient after a hidden camera revealed they hadn’t given him medicine or checked on him at times their paperwork said they did, the attorney general’s office said.

All but one of the employees of the Highpointe on Michigan Health Care Facility pleaded not guilty in City Court. The other was out of state. All must return for felony hearings in mid-May.

All have been fired, said their employer, Kaleida Health, the Buffalo area’s largest health care and hospital organization.

“Nursing home residents are among our state’s most vulnerable citizens and the perpetual neglect in this case is shameful,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office is prosecuting the group.

The 56-year-old victim, who has since died, was bedridden with Huntington’s chorea, a neurological condition, at the time of the alleged neglect in June 2013, said Special Assistant Attorney General Thomas Schleif. Prosecutors have not alleged that the neglect contributed to the man’s death.

The employees were charged with felony counts of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person and falsifying business records, along with misdemeanor violations of health laws requiring timely and appropriate treatment.

They declined to comment to reporters following their arraignments.

A Kaleida spokesman said the facility cooperated in the investigation.

“This behavior, and lack of appropriate care, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” spokesman Michael Hughes said. “When we were made aware of the situation, we took action.”

Schleif said the charges relate to two patient care documents required of caretakers, one indicating when nurses have administered medication and the other proving that a patient has been checked on every two hours.

“Video surveillance showed they were either not in the room or did not administer the medication or did not administer the care that they purported that they did,” Schleif said. Investigators do not believe the employees conspired with one another, he said.

The felony charges each carry a maximum prison term of up to four years. Conviction on the misdemeanor counts could result in up to a year in prison.

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