Nine home staffers face 175 charges

Nine suspended employees of Northwoods Rehabilitation and Extended Care Facility outside Troy have b

Nine suspended employees of Northwoods Rehabilitation and Extended Care Facility outside Troy have been indicted on 175 counts of failing to care properly for an incapacitated patient and of falsifying records.

The indictment was handed up Friday in Rensselaer County Court. It follows the arrest in March of 14 Northwoods employees by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The unit made the arrests after a six-week investigation using hidden surveillance at the nursing home.

David Doyle, of the attorney general’s office, said five of the 14 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, leaving the remainder to face arraignment this week.

The indictment alleges the employees falsified business records, a felony; endangered the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, a misdemeanor; and committed willful violation of health laws, an unclassified misdemeanor.

Named in the indictment were physician’s assistant Julia Roske, 43, of Guilderland; certified nursing assistants Jessica Tremper, 29, of Troy, and Sharon John, 54, of New York; and licensed practical nurses Gail Klein, 61, of Mechanicville, Linda Vogt, 61, of Schaghticoke, Leslie Mayo, 53, of Watervliet, Alicia Smith, 36, of Schenectady, and Lisa Sousie, 44, and Kathleen Osgood, 38, both of Troy.

Sousie was arraigned in court Tuesday and released on her own recognizance. A trial date of Jan. 31 was set for her case, Doyle said.

Cuomo’s investigation found that the employees failed to check a resident for incontinence or change undergarments for long periods of time and that they falsified medical records to conceal their neglect. Roske is accused of creating a phony record of an annual medical exam that never happened.

Northwoods officials said the incident occurred in 2009 and involved a resident who was later moved to another facility. The attorney general’s report does not implicate the current administration, EF Consulting, which took over management of the Troy facility and two other nursing homes in Niskayuna and Cortland, under the corporate name of Northwoods, on Dec. 1, 2008, Doyle said.

The state Department of Health cited the Troy facility in May after it conducted an investigation based on a complaint, a Health Department spokesman said. The state leveled penalties after it found violations that caused immediate jeopardy and led to substandard quality of care.

The Northwoods at Hilltop facility, at 1805 Providence Road in Niskayuna, is a “Special Focus Facility,” a federal designation that indicates it has a history of significant deficiencies. It is the only nursing home in Schenectady County with the designation and one of five in the state. The state inspects Hilltop twice a year, rather than conducting an annual inspection.

Northwoods went into receivership after Highgate filed for bankruptcy in April 2007. In August 2008, Brooklyn investor Benjamin Landa bought the Northwoods network in bankruptcy court for $23.3 million and installed the new management team.

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