Mental health technician accused of neglecting patient

Police: Victim suffered fractured back, ribs

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor
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PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - A South Florida mental health technician has bonded out of jail, after she was charged with neglect to an elderly or disabled adult with great harm.

Police say in December 2013, Deborah Judge Thomas neglected to provide a 62-year-old mentally disabled man with the proper care, supervision and services necessary to maintain his physical health.

The incident happened at the South Florida State Hospital, a GEO Care facility in Pembroke Pines.

According to authorities, Thomas notified her supervisor, registered nurse Aida Cortes that the victim was hitting her. The victim then agreed to go into a room called the "comfort room" so he could calm down. But once inside, Thomas allegedly locked the man in for 45 minutes and shut off the lights.

The victim pounded on the door and fell off a bed in the room several times, causing him to injure himself in several areas of his body, including the back of his head and back. An emergency room physician says he had abnormal blood level and fractured his back and ribs.

Police say a registered nurse can admit a patient into a "comfort room" or "seclusion room," but must immediately call a doctor, who will either give the order to keep the patient in the room or remove him from it.

It's unclear at this time what charges Cortes could be facing for her involvement in the incident.

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