Nurse Charged After Patient, 92, Hurt

The photo from the Huntington Hills Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Melville.

The photo from the Huntington Hills Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Melville.

A certified nurse aide injured a 92-year-old Huntington Hills Center patient then lied in an effort to cover it up, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleged.

Claudia Desulme, 32, a former employee of the Huntington Hills Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Melville, allegedly moved the woman from her bed to a wheelchair on Dec. 18, 2012 without the assistance of another staff person, as required by the resident’s care plan.

The 92-year-old woman, described by Schneiderman as suffering from dementia and other ailments and who “is totally dependent on others for care,” suffered a laceration to her right leg. Desulme and another aide, who was not charged, allegedly bandaged the wound and did not report it.

According to the complaint, when questioned by nursing home staff, Desulme lied “multiple times”; she claimed another aide assisted with the transfer and said the patient was not injured.  

Schneiderman vowed to crack down on caregivers “who hurt patients, who ignore the law and safety protocols.”

“Our healthcare workers have a basic duty to care for their patients, to keep them safe and not to injure them further,” Schneiderman said.  

But Desulme’s attorney, Garden City-based Karl Seman, questioned the motives of pressing charges nearly two years after the fact. He said the evidence against his client, whom he described as a “hard-working, married mother of three” with no criminal record, is flimsy.

“If this is what we prosecute people for criminally – doing more than their job and taking immediate medical action with no intent to deceive – it would seem to me that just about every daily worker could be criminally prosecuted,” Seman said.

He also said there’s no evidence that Desulme tried to cover up the incident and stressed the laceration did not cause “permanent debilitating health” to the woman.

“She never disguised the injury. She noticed it, she reported it, and she had another person put a bandage on it. If she was going to disguise it, she would have hid it,” Seman said.

Schneiderman said Desulme faces up to four years in prison if convicted of felony first-degree falsifying business records, misdemeanor endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, and misdemeanor willful violation of health laws.

Desulme pleaded not guilty and was released on her own recognizance. She is due back in First District Court Jan. 25.