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Post date: June 29 2004

Syracuse And Oneida Nursing Home Aides Charged In Separate Elder Abuse Incidents

Attorney General Spitzer today announced the arrest of two nurse aides for separate acts of abuse and neglect to nursing home residents.

Mona L. Williams, a certified nurse aide formerly employed at the Vivian Teal Howard Residential Health Care Facility in Syracuse, was arrested on an Information for punching a partially paralyzed stroke victim twice in the face.

Williams, 48, of 1211 Midland Avenue in Syracuse was arraigned yesterday before Syracuse City Court Judge Stephen J. Dougherty on charges of Wilful Violation of Health Laws and Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person. If convicted, she faces up to a year in prison. According to the Information filed in the case, Williams, while working as a nurse aide at the Vivian Teal Howard Residential Health Care Facility on December 28, 2003, twice punched a 58-year-old male stroke victim in the face, bruising him around the eye and cheekbone.

In a separate action, certified nurse aide Penny L. Searl, 39, of 314 Sayles Street in Oneida, was arraigned today before Oneida City Judge Anthony Eppolito, on an Information. She has been charged with one count of Wilful Violation of Health Laws, one count of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person, and three counts of Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree. If convicted, Searl faces up to one year in jail.

According to the Information, Searl endangered the welfare of an 80-year-old incapacitated patient at the Oneida Healthcare Center in Oneida on March 12, 2004, when she improperly attempted to move the patient without the assistance of another staff member and a mechanical lift in knowing violation of a nurse's order, the patient's care plan and the patient's repeated request. During the attempted move, the patient fractured her right ankle. In addition, it is alleged that Searl falsified facility records concerning the patient's injury to cover-up her misconduct.

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

Williams worked as a nurse aide at the Vivian Teal Howard Residential Health Care Facility, located at 116 East Castle Street in Syracuse, from May 2002 to January 2004, when she was terminated as a result of this incident.

Searl worked as a nurse aide at the Oneida Healthcare Center, located at 323 Genesee Street in Oneida, from December 2001 to March 2004, when she was terminated as a result of this incident.

Special Assistant Attorney General Norman S. Hatt, assigned to the Syracuse Regional Office of the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, is prosecuting both cases. Assisting in the investigations are Supervising Special Investigator Michael J. Brady and Special Investigator Patrick M. Lynch.

The charges against Williams and Searl are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.