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State investigating if Buffalo nursing home official molested resident

Officials at Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center have no information about an alleged incident of sexual assault against a resident by a former assistant director of nursing, a spokesman for the Buffalo facility said Wednesday.

The state Department of Health, when contacted by The Buffalo News about the allegation, issued a statement saying it was aware of the claim and was conducting an investigation.

"Ensuring the well-being of all nursing home residents is of the utmost importance of the state health department.  We are aware of these allegations and we are investigating.  As this remains an active investigation, we cannot comment further,” the health department said.

Emerald South spokesman Michael A.L. Balboni said the assistant director of nursing resigned from his job about three weeks ago, following an altercation with a resident.

"The assistant director of nursing said he was assaulted by the resident and the resident said the assistant director of nursing bit him. The  Health Department looked into the incident and did not make any findings," Balboni said.

"We don't have any information on an investigation of sexual assault," he said.

Emerald South was designated a "Special Focus Facility" by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid in June. The designation followed  an incident in which 87-year-old William Strasner fell to his death while using a make-shift rope to climb from the window of his third-floor room in the dementia unit at the Delaware Avenue facility.

Two years ago, 82-year-old Ruth Murray, also a resident in the dementia unit, was beaten to death when she mistakenly wandered into the room of another dementia resident, an 84-year-old man. The DOH fined Emerald South $10,000, in part, for lack of adequate supervision.

Under the Special Focus Facility designation, the nursing home is now under closer scrutiny by the state health department.

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