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Gowanda nursing home fined in connection with sexual assault

A Gowanda nursing home has been fined $10,000 by the state Health Department in connection with the sexual assault of an 88-year-old resident by another resident.

The Gowanda Rehabilitation and Nursing Center waited more than six hours to report the May 29 assault to police and destroyed possible evidence related to the assault, the state Health Department concluded this summer.

The penalty was noted on the department’s website among information about fines issued in recent months. The fine was issued on Oct. 15, according to the website, in connection with “multiple deficiencies” found by the department in a report this summer.

A staff member heard the woman calling out, “No, no” in her room around 4:30 a.m. May 29 and found a 73-year-old resident on top of the woman in her bed, with his pants around his ankles, according to a Gowanda Police Department report. The woman’s underwear was partially off and her gown was over her head.

Both residents have been diagnosed with dementia, according to the state Health Department’s report. The woman also suffers from severe cognitive impairment and is not able to get out of bed without a mechanical lift.

Jennifer Page removed her father from Absolut Care of Aurora Park nursing home in East Aurora because she said it provided poor care. She's started an online petition asking New York State to shut down the facility and is organizing a protest outside the facility at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 28. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

A staff member checked on the woman and said she found no evidence of assault. A few hours later, another staff member cleaned the woman and changed her underwear.

It was not until nearly 10 a.m. that a physician assistant examined the woman and determined that she had been sexually assaulted and sent the woman to the hospital to be assessed, according to the Health Department report. About 25 minutes later, the nursing home contacted police.

The woman’s daughter, who has power of attorney, filed a civil suit in September against the nursing home and its owners, Personal Healthcare, which is based in Tarrytown, and Ephraim B. Zagelbaum. The nursing home and its owners have denied responsibility in court papers filed Nov. 4 in response.

Jennifer M. Puglisi, the attorney representing the nursing home and its owners, could not be reached Monday for comment.

Nursing home staff interrupts sexual assault of patient, waits to report it

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