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State investigating dispute that preceded attack at nursing home

The state Health Department is investigating what prompted the daughter of a Buffalo nursing home resident to attack the administrator of the facility earlier this week, according to an agency spokesman.

Charita N. "Rita" Gossom, 42, of Buffalo, allegedly attacked Sharon Zeames, the administrator at Safire Rehabilitation of Southtowns, during an argument over why the facility had stopped giving her diabetic mother, Maura Radford, insulin injections on Sunday.

Zeames was treated for an apparent neck injury Tuesday at Mercy Hospital, and has not reported back to work as of Thursday.

“Upon learning of this incident, we immediately opened an investigation regarding the quality of care being provided at Safire Rehabilitation of Southtowns," said Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman for the Health Department.

"The state was in here this morning and interviewed my sister," Yonna Harper, Radford's sister, said Thursday, adding that Radford was given an insulin shot on Wednesday at the nursing home.

An official for the facility said the administrator has been traumatized from the attack.

“It is a terrible thing. We are in the business of caregiving. That is our whole focus. To have this family discussion erupt into violence is absolutely counter to what we have experienced or could expect,” said Safire Southtowns spokesman Michael Balboni.

Balboni, who has worked in the long-term care industry for a decade, said that to his knowledge Tuesday’s incident was the first time an administrator at any nursing home in the state has been assaulted.

“I have never heard of this or seen reports on this,” Balboni said.

The Health Department, Hammond said, does not maintain information concerning assaults committed at nursing homes on nonresidents.

Buffalo City Court Judge Kevin Keane on Tuesday issued an order of protection against Gossom to stay away from Zeames. The judge also released Gossom on her own recognizance and ordered her to return to court Monday. She was charged with third-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury, a misdemeanor and second-degree harassment, a violation, according to Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo.

Gossom got into a confrontation with Zeames after Safire of Southtowns staff claimed that Radford, 69, was not on insulin when she was admitted to the nursing home this month for rehabilitation of a fractured right foot, and declined to give her an insulin shot, according to relatives.

"She received insulin on Wednesday and will continue to receive it when her blood sugar levels are high," Harper said, adding that the facility has now found records showing that Radford was receiving insulin shots when she was admitted.

Harper says the family is sorry that the situation "got out of hand," but that it could have been avoided if nursing home officials had addressed the situation in a timely manner.

Buffalo nursing home administrator attacked by daughter of resident

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