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Police: Three nurses stabbed with scissors at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady; patient charged

Police: Three nurses stabbed with scissors at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady; patient charged

Suspect released after posting bond
Police: Three nurses stabbed with scissors at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady; patient charged
Ellis Hospital
Photographer: File photo by Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer

SCHENECTADY — A patient at Ellis Hospital allegedly stabbed three nurses at Ellis Hospital Thursday morning with medical scissors. 

The nurses suffered cuts to their head, neck and back areas, authorities said.

All three required treatment and were later released. 

Patient Ian U. Castaldo, 27, faces multiple counts of felony assault, as well as a felony weapons count and misdemeanor menacing counts.

He is accused of stabbing the two registered nurses and one student nurse just before 8 a.m. at the hospital, according to police allegations filed in court. Staff members rushed in in response, pulled Castaldo off and subdued him until police could arrive, officials said.

One nurse suffered wounds to her left ear, the other suffered wounds to her upper back and neck. The student nurse suffered a wound to her neck, according to police.

Castaldo was charged on Thursday with a total of five counts of second-degree assault and one count of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, all felonies. The felony weapons count is based on Castaldo having been previously convicted of a crime.

He was also charged with three misdemeanor counts of second-degree menacing. 

Castaldo was arraigned and ordered held on $10,000 bond, which he has since posted, authorities said.

"This was an unfortunate and frightening incident for our team members and Ellis Medicine commends them for their professionalism in the face of danger, and for their compassion for the patient," said Ellis Medicine in a statement. "We are making counselors available for involved team members should they wish to avail themselves of the service."

Following the attack, nurses are calling for the facility to re-examine its security policies.  

“This hospital needs to address our concerns with safety and with safe staffing," said Denise D’Avella, a critical care nurse at Ellis Hospital, in a statement issued through the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA). “Nurses shouldn’t have to fear for their well-being while tending to their patients’ needs.”

But security personnel, D'Avella contended, are more concerned about parking issues and the presence of union representatives in the building. 

"When there’s a violent incident, security is nowhere to be found," she said.

Nurses at Ellis Hospital and Bellevue Woman’s Center are currently engaged in contract negotiations and share the same management, policies and procedures, according to NYSNA, who said nurses have repeatedly brought forward safety concerns at labor management meetings.

Others asked why a patient with previous felony convictions and who was well-known to hospital staff was placed in an open patient unit. 

“No one wants a violent incident like this to happen," said Sarah Cornett, a registered nurse and membership chair of the Bellevue Woman’s Center Executive Committee. "It’s another thing to put safety policies and procedures in place to actively prevent incidents like this from happening. That is what nurses need and what management has refused to address at the bargaining table.”

In response, Ellis released the following statement Friday night:

"The health and well being of both our patients and staff is of utmost importance to Ellis Medicine, and we do all we can to ensure their safety at all times.

"We intend to work with law enforcement authorities to fully investigate this incident and continue to take appropriate measures to protect our patients and staff.

"The nurses involved in [Thursday's] incident, as well as the Ellis security team, performed admirably in an extremely difficult situation. It is unfortunate that NYSNA would issue a press release exploiting the incident as a bargaining tool in our contract negotiations rather than giving their members the credit they deserve for their professionalism and excellence in patient care."

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