Two Nurse's Aides Charged With Elder Abuse At Brooklyn Nursing Home

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that two employees at the Buena Vida Continuing Care and Rehabilitation Center in the Wyckoff Heights section of Brooklyn have been arrested for twice abusing an elderly female patient suffering from dementia and a broken hip.

Appearing last night in Brooklyn Criminal Court before Judge James Gibbons, Kesha Matthews, 22, of 785 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, and Rudles Francis-Guzman, 44, of 1014 Cortelyou Road, also in Brooklyn, were charged in a Misdemeanor Complaint with the crimes of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person and Wilful Violation of Health Laws. If convicted, they each face up to one year in prison.

According to the charges, while providing care to the 84-year-old patient on the morning of November 4, 2001, Matthews and Francis-Guzman were observed spitting in the patient's face. Guzman then allegedly expectorated into the patient's mouth and held her mouth closed.

Later that morning, the patient was observed in the shower area with feces on her face. Without removing the feces, Matthews and Francis-Guzman each took turns spraying disinfectant at the patient's face while the other aide restrained her.

Spitzer said, "We must never lose sight of the fact that nursing homes are more than just long-term care facilities, they are 'home' to over 120,000 of our most vulnerable citizens, each of whom deserves to be treated with the utmost care and respect. I hope this prosecution sends a strong message to other health care professionals that my office is committed to vigorously prosecuting those who abuse the citizens whose care and well-being are entrusted to them."

Spitzer thanked the state Health Department for referring the matter to his office. He also thanked the administration and staff of the nursing home for their cooperation and assistance in the investigation.

The Buena Vida Continuing Care and Rehabilitation Center is located at 48 Cedar Street in Brooklyn.

Matthews, who has been a nurse's aide since 1998, worked at Buena Vida since December 2000. She was charged with two counts of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person and two counts of Wilful Violation of Health Laws.

Francis-Guzman, also a nurse's aide since 1998, worked at Buena Vida since February 2000. She was charged with three counts of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person and three counts of Wilful Violation of Health Laws.

Both aides were terminated shortly after the incident.

Special Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Gordon, of the New York City Regional Office of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, is prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Special Investigator Joseph Scalogna.

The charges against Matthews and Francis-Guzman are accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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