Former Southampton nursing home employees arrested

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A former administrator and a former nurse's aide at a Southampton nursing home were each charged with falsifying records in unrelated instances, one involving a missing patient and the other over a patient seriously injured at the facility, authorities said Tuesday.

Nancy Szydlowski, 54, of Islip Terrace, was the administrator of The Hamptons Center For Rehabilitation and Nursing when a dementia patient with a history of wandering off went missing for five hours Aug. 23, 2009, and was later found walking on Montauk Highway, according to the complaint filed by the state attorney general's office.

When a state health department investigator arrived about a week later, Szydlowski directed a nurse supervisor to write a note in the records saying she caught the patient trying to leave at the front door, court papers said.

Szydlowski was arrested Monday by Southampton Village police and released on her own recognizance after being arraigned on felony charges of falsifying business records, tampering with physical evidence and offering a false instrument for filing.

Calls left at her home Tuesday evening were not returned.

Under her care plan, the whereabouts of the dementia patient were supposed to be documented every 15 minutes, court papers said, and the patient wore a wrist wander guard that should have set off an alarm but didn't the day she left the grounds.

The patient, identified in court records only by the initials S.R., was spotted walking on Montauk Highway in Water Mill by a jitney driver who also worked as a housekeeper at the nursing home, the complaint said.

The driver called a nurse at the facility, who searched fruitlessly for S.R. at the home and then drove out, and found the patient on the grass along Montauk Highway, court papers said.

But when a state health department investigator arrived Aug. 31 to look into an anonymous tip about S.R.'s disappearance, Szydlowski directed the nurse supervisor on duty at the time of the incident to write a note saying she had spotted S.R. just outside the front door and directed her back to her unit, the complaint said. The administrator told members of her staff the fake version of the story, the papers said, and another nurse saw the supervisor writing the note as Szydlowski told her to "hurry up" because the health investigator was waiting.

The state health department closed the investigation, based on the note and Szydlowski's statement that the patient tried to leave but was stopped, authorities said.

In the second case, former nurse aide Ray Okaham, 31, of Islandia, was also arrested Monday by village police after a 97-year-old patient was injured when he transferred her from bed to wheelchair without help on Nov. 19, 2011, court papers said. Her injuries included bleeding in the brain and a fractured clavicle, and Okaham lied about having another aide help, authorities said.

According to the state attorney general's complaint, the 97-year-old patient had a history of fractures and other problems, and orders required two aides and a mechanical lift whenever she had to be moved, the complaint said.

But hallway surveillance cameras showed Ohakam entered the patient's room alone and wheeled her out alone, court papers said.

Ohakam was arrested by Southampton Village police Monday and arraigned on a felony, falsifying business records, and on a public health law violation. His bail was set at $250, the attorney general's office said.

He could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

He and Szydlowski were fired, said a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office. She declined to comment on why the two were arrested more than a year after the incidents.

Nursing home officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

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