SUFFERN, N.Y. -- "Horrifying images" captured on video show a former Suffern registered nurse slapping and roughing up a paralyzed, ventilator-dependent patient she was hired to care for in his home, authorities said Tuesday.
Dorothea Harvilik, 64, who's since moved to Saddle River, N.J., faces up to 18 months in state prison if convicted of assaulting the 23-year-old patient, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said.
Footage of the abuse was captured by a hidden video camera set up by the man's mother, who suspected her son was being mistreated, Porrino said.
The video, and other caught-on-tape examples of patient abuse, led to the creation of New Jersey’s “Safe Care Cam” program, which offers micro-surveillance cameras free on loan to residents who suspect a loved is being mistreated by an in-home caregiver.
“The horrifying images of Nurse Harvilik striking this defenseless patient and wrenching his head as she tended to him, underscored our need to ensure that all New Jersey families, regardless of their income, have access to state-of-the art technology they need to watch over their loved ones,” Porrino said.
Hidden cameras "not only expose patient abuse," he added. "They can provide the ‘smoking-gun’ evidence that helps bring abusers to justice.”
Harvilik is the third caregiver in recent weeks charged with patient abuse by the OIFP.
Harvilik and the others have all been stripped of their professional credentials as a result of their alleged abuse, authorities said.
In November, the State Board of Nursing permanently revoked Harvilik’s nursing license, after viewing the video of her striking the bed-bound patient, Porrino noted.
Assistant Attorney General Robert Grady presented Harvilik’s case to a grand jury, which returned an indictment charging her with assault on Monday.
Detective Sgt. Kevin Weinkauff and Detective Celeste Dowd coordinated the investigation, with assistance from Investigators John Musiello and Catherine Butter of the state Division of Consumer Affairs.