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Former Medford nursing home supervisor wants conviction vacated

Christine Boylan, a former nursing home supervisor, in

Christine Boylan, a former nursing home supervisor, in court in October 2015. Credit: James Carbone

A former rehabilitation care supervisor convicted on charges tied to a resident’s death wants the conviction vacated on grounds that state prosecutors withheld key evidence at her first trial, court documents show.

Christine Boylan, 54, of Mastic, was found guilty by a jury in July 2015 of lying and withholding information from investigators looking into the 2012 death of a resident at Medford Multicare Center. The resident who died, Aurelia Rios, 72, of Central Islip, had a tracheotomy; Boylan was the center’s director of respiratory therapy but wasn’t on duty when Rios died on Oct. 26, 2012.

The evidence that prosecutors withheld was a report by the New York State Department of Health issued in September 2015, after it investigated Medford Multicare, said Boylan’s attorney, Scott Lockwood.

Medford reported to the DOH that  the medical device, known as the Bernoulli system, used in 2015 to monitor residents’ conditions was “unreliable,” according to a copy of the survey  report.

“There are instances of no correlation between resident’s condition/status and the Bernoulli alarm reports,” reported Medford.  “In other words, residents were observed to be comfortable in bed, yet Bernoulli was sending alarms.”

Medford Multicare did not return a call for comment.

At trial, prosecutors said respiratory therapist Kethlie Joseph never attached Rios to a ventilator when she was in bed because Joseph failed to review the doctor's order. Rios’ ventilator was connected to the Bernoulli system, which monitored Rios’ breathing and the oxygen level in her blood. For two hours, prosecutors said, Rios was in respiratory distress but staff members ignored the audible and visual alerts that came from the Bernoulli system.

State prosecutors presented a case that showed that the Bernoulli system, as well as well as secondary devices, pagers and walkie-talkies, were working properly the day Rios died.

Joseph, Boylan, and seven other employees were convicted of various crimes for their roles in Rios’ death.

In response to the motion, filed Feb. 25 by Lockwood on Boylan’s behalf, the state attorney general's office said it is reviewing the facts and will "respond in court.”

DOH issued its report after the jury convicted Boylan but before she was sentenced by State Supreme Court Justice John Collins in Riverhead. Boylan is also asking to have her sentence vacated and a retrial; she served 6 months in jail and was placed on 5 years probation, Lockwood said.

The DOH survey report reflected that Medford reported the Bernoulli system did not send the audible and visual alerts in real time as it was supposed to.

Sometimes, the Bernoulli monitors lost connectivity unexpectedly, according to  Medford, as reflected in the DOH survey report.

“In short, to speak colloquially, the Bernoulli monitoring system was a piece of junk which is why Medford Multicare replaced it,” Lockwood said in court papers.

The DOH  survey  report also  reflected that Medford employees interviewed by the state for the survey reported  pagers and walkie-talkies used to monitor residents’ conditions in 2015 failed to work at times.

For instance, batteries in the walkie-talkies sometimes died or didn’t charge properly, according to the Medford employees interviewed by the DOH for the survey.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story, the source of quotations and references to a report by the New York State Department of Health issued in September 2015 was Medford Multicare Center or its employees. The statements or findings were not made by the Department of Health. 

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