Shameful: State-tested nursing assistants indicted for patient abuse

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury returned indictments against two State Tested Nursing Assistants employed by the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Center at MetroHealth for abusing a 78-year-old patient.

45-year-old Virgen Caraballo Cleveland was indicted on thirteen counts of patient abuse and 25-year-old Maria Karban of Cleveland was indicted on one count of patient abuse. The charges are fourth degree felonies and each carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. A conviction prevents any federally certified nursing home from employing the individual in any capacity. The Ohio Attorney General's Office conducted the investigation with assistance from the Cleveland Police Department, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, and the Ohio Department of Health.

The 78-year-old female victim has been a patient for three years at the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Center at MetroHealth located on Scranton Road in Cleveland. She suffers from Alzheimer's disease and requires assistance from staff for all her needs.

Between April 8, 2011 and May 15, 2011, State Tested Nursing Assistants Caraballo and Karban abused the victim while providing her care. The victim's son set up a hidden camera in an air purifier in the hospital room. Videos depicted acts of patient abuse involving Caraballo that included rough (forceful) transfers from the bed to the wheelchair, tossing the patient in a rough manner onto the bed, and pushing the patient's face into her bed while performing personal hygiene. Additionally, one of the videos depicted Karban spraying the patient directly in the face with body spray.

"The video of the treatment this woman received is shocking," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "We began an investigation as soon as the video came to light."

"The elderly are our most vulnerable," said Prosecutor Mason. "The victim relied on these assistants for care but instead was neglected and abused."

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