Three nurse's aides who admitted they did nothing for more than an hour as alarms sounded notifying them and the staff at a Medford nursing home that a resident was in medical distress were sentenced Wednesday to 3 years' probation, and one was ordered to perform 840 hours of community service.
The women who worked at Medford Multicare Center for Living -- Patricia DiGiovanni, 64, of Port Jefferson Station, Christina Corelli, 35, of East Patchogue, and Leona Gordon, 36, of Medford -- did not apologize to the family of Aurelia Rios, 72, of Central Islip, who died on Oct. 26, 2012.
All three women declined to address state Supreme Court Justice John B. Collins before he imposed the sentences, which were negotiated as part of the plea agreements reached with Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office.StoryNursing home guilty of trying to hide deathStoryEx-nursing home official tried to thwart probesStoryEx-nurse's aide: 'Yes, I did' hear patient's alarms
The women are also barred from working in jobs that require them to care for incapacitated individuals during their probation.
DiGiovanni was also ordered to perform 840 hours of community service, which her attorney, Brian Davis of Garden City, said will be done at her local church.
"She'll do what the church asks -- cleaning, stuffing envelopes, answering phones," Davis said.
Rios' daughter, Michelle Giamarino, 53, of Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, who had been in Riverhead to witness most of the court proceedings since the arrests in February 2014, was not in court for the sentencing. She could not be reached for comment.
The nurse's aides are among nine employees, along with the nursing home, who have pleaded guilty or who were convicted at trial in Rios' death.
"The neglect shown by these defendants will not be tolerated in New York nursing homes," Schneiderman said in a statement.
Rios, who had a tracheotomy, was admitted to the Medford facility's short-term rehabilitation unit in September 2012 to help wean her off the ventilator, which state prosecutors said she had depended on to help her breathe when she was lying down.
On the night of Oct. 25, 2012, Rios' respiratory therapist forgot to attach Rios to the ventilator after she was in bed. No one noticed the mistake. Several layers of safety measures were put in place, but were ignored by the staff. Rios died several hours later.
On the day Rios died, DiGiovanni's only job was to sit in Rios' room, monitor the ventilator-dependent resident while she slept and call for help if needed. When DiGiovanni went on her hourlong break, Corelli relieved her. Gordon was assigned to the nurse's station, and her duty was to watch two computer monitors and be on the lookout for red blinking lights, which indicated one of the residents on the 40-bed unit needed help.
Prosecutors have said audible and visual notifications were sent continuously to the staff's pagers and to monitors throughout the unit between 1:40 a.m. to 3:36 a.m., alerting them that Rios' pulse rate and the oxygen level in her blood were low or nonexistent.
Gordon said she notified the nursing staff one time, then did nothing more even though no one responded and the alarms continued to sound.
DiGiovanni was in Rios' room between 1:07 a.m. and 2:18 a.m.; and Corelli was in Rios' room between 2:15 a.m. and 3:23 a.m. Both women have not said what they were doing during those hours, but an ex-colleague, Maria Borgatta, had testified DiGiovanni was asleep and Corelli was playing Candy Crush, a mobile game.
The staff tried to cover up the circumstances surrounding Rios' death, which the nursing home initially said was a heart attack, prosecutors have said.
A whistle-blower on Nov. 5, 2012, reported the suspicious death to New York State health regulators, which launched an investigation and referred the matter to Schneiderman's office.
DiGiovanni and Corelli each pleaded guilty to one count of willful violation of public health laws. Gordon pleaded guilty to one count of endangering the welfare of an incapacitated or disabled person.
The nursing home and six other staff members are awaiting sentencing.