Patient Stabs 2 Nurses with Medical Scissors at Ellis Hospital

Published: March 3, 2020

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – A patient is facing multiple felony charges after police say he stabbed two nurses and assaulted two others at Ellis Hospital.

Three nurses and a nursing student suffered injuries after 27-year-old Ian Castaldo attacked them with medical scissors just before 8 a.m. on Thursday, reports The Daily Gazette. Additional staff members intervened and were able to subdue Castaldo until police arrived.

One nurse suffered wounds to her left ear and another suffered wounds to her upper back and neck. The nursing student suffered a wound to her neck. All were treated and sent home to recover.

Castaldo was charged Thursday with five counts of second-degree assault and one count of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, all of which are felonies. 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.

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“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,” Ellis Hospital officials said in a statement Friday.

Following the attack, nurses are calling on the hospital to reexamine its security policies. A statement from the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), a union representing 42,000 frontline nurses, faulted hospital security for the stabbings, according to Security Info Watch.

Denise D’Avella, a critical care nurse, said in the group’s statement that Ellis security is “more concerned about where we park and whether our union rep is in the building, than with the safety of our staff. When there’s a violent incident, security is nowhere to be found.”

Registered nurse Sarah Cornett, membership chair of Bellevue Woman’s Center Executive Committee, questioned why Castaldo, who has a history of felony convictions and is well-known to hospital staff, was placed in an open patient unit.

Nurses taking care of Castaldo had issued a “code gray” multiple times before he got ahold of the scissors, reports WNYT. “Code gray” typically is called when a security officer is needed to help put a violent patient in restraints.

“This is something that’s there on a daily basis,” said registered nurse Fred Durocher. “The police, when they have someone who they can’t control but they don’t know why, they can’t arrest them, they bring them to us. Then they unhandcuff them and then they have to leave if they’re not arrested and we’re there to deal with that.”

NYSNA nurses at Ellis Hospital and Bellvue Women’s Center are currently engaged in contract negotiations and share the same management, policies and procedures. NYSNA said several nurses have raised safety complaints at labor management meetings. NYSNA representative Lisa Blodgett said they have met with hospital staff 16 times since last summer but are no closer to reaching a deal.

Ellis officials said 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.”

One significant measure the group is pushing for is minimum staff ratios. Ellis nurses are planning to go to the Capitol on Tuesday to push for its legislation.

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