19 Arrested for Neglect at Nursing Homes

Hidden cameras recorded nursing-home patients being left in their own waste while staffers watched movies, and 19 workers at two facilities have been arrested, prosecutors said Thursday.

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer also filed civil charges against the owner of one facility, saying it received state Medicare money for care that wasn't provided.

Videotape from that facility, the Jennifer Matthew Nursing Home in Rochester, showed a patient and other residents who hadn't been repositioned to avoid bed sores and were often left for hours to lie in their own urine and waste, Spitzer said. Medications and treatments were not provided as prescribed, he said.

Staff had moved call bells away from patients and stopped doing their rounds so they could socialize, watch movies, sleep or leave the building, Spitzer said. Some employees were also accused of falsely filing records that claimed they provided required care.

The arrests involved employees there and at Northwoods Nursing Home in Cortland.

The Rochester home is negotiating a settlement with Spitzer, its attorney said.

"We were obviously shocked and disappointed by those former 14 staff members who were arrested," said attorney David Lenefsky. The home's 140 other workers provide excellent care and the home meets or exceeds all government staffing levels, he said.

Eight former licensed and certified workers at the Rochester home have pleaded guilty to charges involving neglect and false records.

The civil charges came against its primary owner, Anthony Salerno. Spitzer said the home had received $10 million in Medicaid funds in the past several years.

The cameras were placed in patients' rooms with their relatives' consent, Spitzer said.

Investigations were continuing at the Cortland facility and other nursing homes statewide.