MANCHESTER — The charge against Fern Ornelas, 54, who is accused of attacking a security guard in the psychiatric holding section of the Elliot Hospital emergency department Wednesday night, has been upgraded to felony second-degree assault.
Ornelas, of 54 Lancaster Ave., had been scheduled for arraignment Friday in Circuit Court-Manchester District Division on a misdemeanor simple assault charge.
Police filed the more serious charge and intended to drop the misdemeanor at the arraignment session, but Ornelas remains hospitalized and no new date for arraignment has been set. Ornelas was at Elliot Hospital awaiting transfer to the New Hampshire State Hospital, which has a waiting list, when the incident occurred Wednesday night.
Hospital officials declined to say how long Ornelas had been held in the secure psychiatric section, but police said he became increasingly agitated Wednesday evening and was disturbing other patients.
When a security guard, a retired New Hampshire state trooper, sought to return Ornelas to his room, Ornelas attacked him. Police said that although retired State Police Sgt. Lawrence Bolduc gave as good as he got, it took several security guards, a Manchester police officer who was on a detail at the Emergency Room and pepper spray to get Ornelas under control and handcuffed.
Both Ornelas and Bolduc were treated for facial injuries.
Hospital officials did not confirm that changes had been made since a July 8 incident in the unit in which a patient who had been held there for three days, awaiting transfer, allegedly assaulted two hospital employees.
But Elliot President and Chief Executive Douglas Dean said after the July assaults that there would be changes in security, with an armed security guard on duty around the clock in the emergency department.At the time of the July incident, there was only a security officer on duty in the emergency department on weekends.
The man accused in the July incident, Ansel Kinglocke, 34, who has been indicted for the assaults on nursing assistant Donald Wyman and hospital employee Melissa Clermont, is also awaiting a competency hearing.
Wayman, who suffered serious facial and head injuries, was hospitalized for some time in Boston. Clermont, who sustained a fractured cheekbone when she sought to stop Kinglocke from using Wayman's identification tag to get out of the unit, was less seriously injured and has since returned to work.