Criminal Caregivers update: Felon nurse out of a job at Niagara Rehab

Problems at nursing home persist after fight
Posted at 6:31 PM, Apr 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-03 18:50:45-04

Not all nurses in New York State are required to undergo background checks in order to get a nursing license.

It's a loophole we first told you about in February during our “Criminal Caregivers” investigation – and one that allowed at least four women obtain jobs at the Niagara Rehab nursing home in Niagara Falls despite their criminal histories.

Since our investigation, 7 Eyewitness News has learned that one of those women, Christina Newman, is no longer working at the nursing home. 

She had nine felonies on her record when she was hired. 

"They fired me,” she said via text message recently. "I lost my job because of you."

She later changed her story and said "I quit...I did not get fired,” but whatever the reason, it came as good news to Sherrie Faison, whose uncle died at the nursing home last year.

"That's wonderful,” Faison said. “Well honestly I think it's a good thing. It's probably the best thing, one of the best things that's happened because she doesn't really need to be around the elderly if she's got a criminal record."

Newman wouldn't talk on camera but said she “tried my hardest to help those people.”

Faison says she shouldn't be surprised that she is out of a job.

"You can't blame getting fired on Channel 7 News,” Faison said. “You've got to take responsibility for your own actions. Your record speaks for itself.”

Even though Newman is out of the picture at Niagara Rehab, the last two weeks have brought only more signs of trouble at the nursing home.

On March 21, police reports describe a fight between Julian Russell of Buffalo, whose mother is a patient at Niagara Rehab, and nursing home administrator Craig Shaffer.

Shaffer told police Russell tried to hit him in the face before the nursing home official was able to put the man in the headlock and call the police. Russell says he was overwhelmed and upset by the quality of care his mother was receiving.

Then on Friday, police were called again after a patient with mental issues stabbed herself in the neck with a metal antenna. Staff said she suffered from depression and schizophrenia and had only been at the nursing home for a week.

Niagara Rehab has been cited for multiple deficiencies and is currently under investigation by the State Attorney General's Office.