Nursing Home Official Convicted Of Covering Up Patient Abuse At Long Island Facility
Attorney General Spitzer today announced that following a two-week jury trial in Nassau County Court a registered nurse at a Uniondale nursing home has been convicted on felony charges of tampering with evidence and directing her staff to rewrite statements to cover up the circumstances surrounding a patient's death.
After deliberating for two days, the jury found Audrie Brown, the former Director of Nursing at the Townhouse Extended Care Center, guilty of three counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree and one count of Tampering with Physical Evidence. Judge Daniel Cotter, who presided at trial, set sentencing for June 5th, at which time Brown faces up to twelve years in prison.
Spitzer said, "Today's guilty verdict not only signals a major victory for nursing home patients and their families across the state, but represents a turning point in my office's efforts to improve the safety and quality of care for patients residing in our 670 nursing homes. Moreover, this conviction gives voice to society's growing abhorrence of this type of crime."
Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado, Director of Spitzer's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), which prosecuted the case, said, "This case should put nursing home operators and their managers on notice that instead of simply prosecuting aides who engage in abusive conduct, we will critically examine owner/management policies or practices that contribute to abuse or neglect in nursing homes, and will hold such managers responsible for the conditions found in their facilities."
Mr. Maldonado added that the Townhouse case was the first to result from Attorney General Spitzer's statewide nursing home initiative in which he directed each MFCU regional office to examine nursing homes for quality of care issues.
On the morning of April 5, 1997, an 87-year-old female patient being fed through a nasogastric tube died after Townhouse staff failed to administer nourishment in accordance with her physician's orders. Her liquid supplement was supposed to be regulated to flow over the course of ten hours. Instead, the entire feeding supplement was delivered in an hour or less. As a result, the patient experienced numerous episodes of vomiting and diarrhea throughout the night before dying.
When the State Department of Health (DOH) began an investigation into the patient's death, Brown tried to cover up the circumstances surrounding it. She directed staff who had cared for the patient to rewrite their nursing notes and statements to falsely indicate that the feeding was properly administered. Brown then submitted these false statements to DOH.
Two of Brown's staff - Roseann Colon, the former Assistant Director of Nursing, and R.N. Supervisor Jewel Dwyer - were acquitted today of the charges against them. Two other Townhouse employees - R.N. Supervisors Joye Brewer and Barbara Martinez - are awaiting trial.
Brown, 55, lives at 10771 N.E. 30th Street in Bronson, Florida. Townhouse Extended Care Center is located at 755 Hempstead Turnpike in Uniondale.
Special Assistant Attorneys General Veronica E. Bindrim-MacDevitt and Alan Buonpastore, Director of the Long Island Regional Office of the MFCU, prosecuted the case. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado.