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Post date: December 5 2001

Nurse's Aide Admits To Endangering Patient At Columbia County Nursing Home

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a former Philmont nursing home aide has admitted to endangering an elderly patient earlier this year.

Alicja Sulkowski, 49, of 4542 Burnett Street in Valatie, appeared last night before Philmont Village Court Judge Robert M. Lagonia and pleaded guilty to Wilful Violation of Health Laws in satisfaction of the charges pending against her.

Judge Lagonia immediately sentenced Sulkowski to a conditional discharge, the conditions being that she surrender her nurse's aide certificate; refrain from working in a health care facility or in any position involving direct or primary patient care for five years; and perform 50 hours of community service.

According to prosecutors, while employed as a nurse's aide at the Pine Haven Home on August 25th, Sulkowski was assigned to bathe an 82-year-old patient who was unable to care for herself as a result of her age and numerous physical problems - including a history of falls, diabetes and cataracts. After bathing the patient in a tub chair with a safety belt, Sulkowski raised the patient out of the tub and stopped the chair approximately three feet off the ground. At this point, Sulkowski unbelted the patient and then stepped away. Unattended, the patient fell from the chair and hit the floor, fracturing both legs. She died the following day.

"We have a special responsibility to protect our defenseless and infirm citizens from such neglect," said Spitzer. "This conviction sends a clear message to all health care workers that my Medicaid Fraud Control Unit will continue to protect the elderly."

Pine Haven Home is a skilled nursing facility run by Columbia County. It is located on Route 217 in Philmont. Sulkowski was employed at the facility from September 1994 until her suspension immediately following the incident.

Special Assistant Attorney General Michael C. Clarke, of the Albany Regional Office of Attorney General Spitzer's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, prosecuted the case. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado.