EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Nassau University Medical Center worker arrested two weeks ago for allegedly choking a 6-year-old patient is back on the job and it’s causing an uproar at the hospital.
Angela Medalla visits her son every day at NUMC, where he’s a patient. Angela and husband Rafael pray for their 21-year-old child’s recovery. But after finding out that the aide is assigned to his floor, the couple said they also now pray for his safety.
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“Our fear is — first of all — for our son,” Rafael Medalla told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.
The caregiver behind the controversy is Azoumana Ouattara and two weeks ago he was charged with the choking and attempted strangulation of a 6-year-old patient, who is also in NUMC’s psychiatric ward. At the time of Ouattara’s arrest, CBS 2 interviewed the victim, who suffered abrasions to his neck.
“First he went like this, and when I kicked him, he went like this,” the young boy said earlier this month, describing in detail what Ouattara allegedly did to him.
Ouattara is free on bail and recently resumed work at NUMC — though the hospital is keeping him away from child patients until his criminal case is resolved.
Angela Medalla said she remembered seeing the story about Ouattara in the news and said she is fearful.
“I said ‘I know this man’…and now it’s like, I’m afraid. He tried to choke a little kid. He can do any damage to any other person,” she told McLogan.
The Medallas said they worry that their anxious and highly-medicated son will be vulnerable to the same kind of attack as the 6-year-old, whose attorney, Ken Mollins, spoke with CBS 2.
“I believe it’s an inexplicable decision to place an individual, who the police have probable cause to believe strangled a patient, back in the patient venue,” he said.
The Medallas have asked the hospital and Ouattara’s union to place him on administrative leave or desk duty — away from patients like their son — until a court decides his fate.
While Ouattara fights the strangulation and assault charges, his union, CSEA, said “he has been cleared” for patient care. The hospital cannot respond due to ongoing litigation.
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