Supervisor let resident die, covered it up, state charges

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Nursing home broke federal labor law by posting memo urging staff unity, NLRB finds
Nursing home broke federal labor law by posting memo urging staff unity, NLRB finds

A nursing home supervisor in New York allegedly failed to administer CPR or direct staff members to do so, criminally allowing a resident to die, the state attorney general's office has charged. 

In addition, Patricia Smithmyer, 53, allegedly filed false records, saying she was not in the room when the patient died, authorities said. 

She could wind up being sentenced to four years in prison if found guilty. Falsification of business records is considered a Class E felony, while violation of health law is an uncategorized misdemeanor.

The incident occurred in January 2013, when the Golden Hill Health Care Center was still owned by Ulster County. VestraCare bought the facility later that year, and Smithmyer was fired not long afterward. The incident “was not a small part” of Smithmyer's termination, a current co-owner of the facility said in a local news report.

That co-owner, Edward Farbenblum, called Smithmyer “a very nice lady who made a terrible mistake.”

The 80-year-old nursing home resident who died had a standing request for lifesaving procedures, including CPR, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said. 

 “Even though [Smithmyer] knew the resident had requested CPR, Smithmyer failed to commence CPR and, despite being asked what to do by the other staff members, did not direct anyone else to initiate it,” he said. Later, she denied being in the resident's room at the time of death.

County officials said they immediately reported the incident and have “fully cooperated” with investigators. Smithmyer was arraigned June 5 in Kingston City Court and was released on her own recognizance. It was not immediately clear why charges were filed 17 months after the resident's death, nor did authorities offer any potential reasons for Smithmyer's alleged inactivity during the emergency.