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Psych patient charged in attack at Manchester hospital admitted to Boston facility

New Hampshire Sunday News

October 19. 2013 7:54PM
Fern Ornelas, charged after a violent disturbance in the emergency department at Elliot Hospital. 

A psychiatric patient who police say attacked an Elliot Hospital security guard last week was transferred to an undisclosed Boston hospital a day after that incident in serious condition, officials said Saturday.

Fern Ornelas, 54, of Manchester attacked guard Lawrence Bolduc, 49, in the hospital's emergency department Wednesday evening, according to police. Both men were treated there and did not require hospitalization, according to Lt. Maureen Tessier, spokesman for Manchester police.

After Ornelas was "medically released" by Elliot staff, Tessier said, he was brought to the police station for booking, then transferred to Valley Street Jail.

He was supposed to be arraigned Thursday morning on a charge of simple assault, Tessier said, but police were notified he would not make that court date, and it was postponed until Friday. He did not attend that hearing either, she said.

Susanna Whitcher, Elliot's vice president of public affairs and marketing, said Ornelas was "cleared medically" Wednesday, but returned to the hospital's emergency department on Thursday and was admitted in serious condition.

Later that day, he was transferred to a Boston hospital, but Whitcher said she could not release any additional information about his condition or whereabouts because of privacy laws.

A shift supervisor at Valley Street Jail, who identified himself only as Lt. Williams, said he could not comment on the matter and referred all questions to Superintendent David Dionne, who he said would not be available until Monday.

Asked whether Ornelas was in the jail's custody, Williams said, "He is in our custody." Asked whether Ornelas was at the jail, Williams said, "I cannot answer that question."

Tessier said a police officer stayed with Ornelas while a doctor treated him in the emergency room after the attack. She said he did not suffer any additional injuries while in police custody Wednesday.

"Once he was in our custody, there were no incidents," Tessier said.

"His period of time in our booking facility was uneventful, and he went to the Valley Street Jail with no additional problems other than the facial injuries from the initial encounter with the security guard."

At the time of the Elliot attack, police said, Ornelas was awaiting admission to the state psychiatric hospital. He became "agitated" and attacked Bolduc, who was attempting to lead him back to his room in the hospital's secure psychiatric evaluation unit.

Ornelas and Bolduc, a retired state trooper, exchanged punches, and both suffered facial injuries before Bolduc and other officers subdued Ornelas with pepper spray, according to police.

New Hampshire Hospital, the state's 158-bed psychiatric hospital in Concord, has been operating at full capacity for years, a hospital official said last week.

The lack of available beds is a growing problem for acute-care hospitals, where patients often end up waiting for days in emergency rooms.

Last week's attack at Elliot Hospital was the second in the past four months involving a psychiatric patient there.

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