Nurse's Aide Charged In Attack On Incompetent Patient At Buffalo Nursing Home

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a certified nurse's aide at the Delaware Heights Health Care Center in Buffalo has been arrested for physically abusing an elderly male patient. A warrant for the arrest of a second male aide who took part in the attack has also been issued.

Arraigned today in Buffalo City Court before Judge Andrew C. LoTempio was Jeffrey Cheatham. He was charged with Wilful Violation of Health Laws and Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent Person. If convicted, he faces up to one year in prison.

"We have a special responsibility to protect our defenseless and infirm citizens from abuse and exploitation," said Spitzer. "Today's action sends a clear message to all health care workers that we will move swiftly and aggressively to prosecute those who mistreat patients in their care."

On the morning of June 14, 1999, Antowane Simmons, an aide at the Delaware Heights Center, entered the room of an 82-year-old male patient suffering from dementia and, taking a water pitcher from the patient's nightstand, poured the contents on his head. Simmons then backhanded the patient across the mouth and about the head. Shortly thereafter, a second aide, Jeffrey Cheatham, entered the room and gave Simmons a "high five" before laying on top of the patient in the bed and pounding on the mattress three times with his hand, as if he were pinning an opponent in a wrestling match. After Cheatham left the room, Simmons yanked the patient from the bed and slammed him into a wheelchair. Simmons then repeatedly struck the patient in the head.

Cheatham, 44, lives at 327 Monroe Street in Buffalo. He was employed at Delaware Heights Health Care Center from February 1997 to August 27, 1999.

Simmons, 29, formerly lived at 229 Courtland Boulevard in Buffalo. He was employed at Delaware Heights Health Care Center from November 1998 to June 19, 1999.

Delaware Heights Health Care Center is located at 1014 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. The Attorney General thanked the State Health Department for referring the matter to his office. He also thanked the nursing home for its cooperation during the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Gary A. Baldauf, of the Buffalo Regional Office of Attorney General Spitzer's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado.

The charges against Cheatham are accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.