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Post date: November 14 2001

Nurse's Aide Charged With Endangering Patient At Columbia County Nursing Home

Attorney General Spitzer today announced the arrest of a certified nurse's aide for endangering an elderly female patient at a Philmont nursing home last August.

Alicja Sulkowski, 49, of 4542 Burnett Street in Valatie, was arraigned last night before Philmont Village Court Judge Robert M. Lagonia. She was charged with Wilful Violation of Health Laws and Endangering the Welfare of a Physically Disabled Person. If convicted, she faces up to one year in prison.

According to prosecutors, while employed as a nurse's aide at Pine Haven Home on August 25th, Sulkowski was assigned to bathe the 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, cataracts, amputation of two toes, and degenerative problems with her feet. 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 before turning and stepping 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 abuse and neglect," said Spitzer. "It is obvious, based on her actions, that this aide should never again work with patients in a health care setting."

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.

Pine Haven Home is a skilled nursing facility run by Columbia County. It is located at 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, is prosecuting the case. All cases are handled under the direct supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jos? Maldonado.

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