A former certified nurse's aide at Ludlowe Health Center has been charged with assaulting an 84-year-old patient, who suffered head injuries described in the arrest warrant as potentially life-threatening.

The patient takes a blood thinner, which could have led to internal bleeding and fatal complications from the assault and broken bones, a doctor at St. Vincent's Medical Center told the elderly man's son.

The police investigation into Tina J. Blake of Park Avenue in Bridgeport began in April after the Jefferson Street nursing home contacted the elderly man's son to inform him that his father, who suffers from dementia, had been injured after bumping his head on a bed rail.

However, when the son came to the nursing home to check on his father's condition, he found that his father's face was swollen and black and blue from the eyebrow to the back of the neck. His left ring finger was also disfigured from some kind of injury.

The son reportedly made several requests over the next few days that his father be checked by a doctor, according to the police report. Two days later, when the elderly man was finally checked by a doctor, he was sent to St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport for additional treatment.

He was diagnosed with a bone fracture in his face and a broken finger, police said.

The patient takes a blood thinner, which could have led to internal bleeding and fatal complications from the assault and broken bones, a doctor at the hospital told the man's son. The victim may require plastic surgery to repair the damage to his face, the affidavit states.

The assault was reported to police by the victim's son, not by nursing home administrators.

"I think it's a family's worst nightmare," Police Chief Gary MacNamara said Monday. "We're thankful the family came forward and reported it."

Blake was interviewed by police several times, and at first told police that the elderly man was combative and had bumped his head.

Later, she told police that she was angry and frustrated because the man had defecated on himself and spread feces around the room, leaving her responsible to clean it with 30 minutes left in her shift. Blake was quoted in the affidavit saying that she knew that she'd injured the man, but that he would not be able to report what happened because he suffers from dementia.

Blake was charged with cruelty to persons, third-degree assault on a victim over 60 and first-degree reckless endangerment.

She was suspended from the nursing home when the investigation began and has since been fired, police said.

"We are unable to comment on what could be an ongoing investigation, but I can say that we take all complaints of patient mistreatment very seriously and comply scrupulously with both state and federal regulations in regard to investigating and reporting all allegations to the appropriate agency," Kelly McCallister, vice president of marketing and business development for National Healthcare Associates, said in a statement Tuesday.

"We have worked closely with the authorities on this issue and we will continue to take whatever action is necessary to protect the patients in our care," said McCallister, speaking for the Wethersfield-based parent company of Ludlowe Health Care.

The investigation is not closed, police said, and there may be other arrests made in connection with the incident.

Blake turned herself in at Police Department headquarters Monday. She was released on a $15,000 bond and is scheduled to appear Oct. 24 in Bridgeport Superior Court.