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State health officials and police are investigating whether a workerat a Severna Park nursing home hit a 79-year-old patient in the facewhile putting him to bed.

The patient told county police that a 52-year-old nursing assistant at Meridian Nursing Center struck him and had threatened other patients in the past.

Richard Kincaid, the nursing home administrator, reported the incident to police Wednesday and dismissed the employee.

The police report says that the patient apparently was hit while the nursing assistant and two aides were struggling to put him to bed. The aides, in written reports to police, said the patient was swinging his arms andmay have inadvertently hit the employee.

The employee retaliated by allegedly hitting or slapping the patient's face, causing a bruisebeneath his left eye, according to the police report.

As soon as he was informed of the incident, Kincaid said, he called police and state health officials, as required by Maryland law.

He told policethe former employee had worked at the 9-year-old nursing home since 1985. The patient was admitted eight years ago.

"Our residents areimportant to us," Kincaid said. "We immediately did everything we could. The patient is fine -- we had X-rays done and there are no problems with him physically."

He told police that the patient has trouble conveying correct information.

However, the police report saysthat there is "little question" that the patient was struck, based on the bruise and statements taken by police.

The nursing home has passed its annual state inspections, said Carol Benner, director of licensing and inspections for the Health Department. State investigators routinely visit nursing homes to check on their supervision, record-keeping and any instances of patient neglect or abuse.

The Meridian chain also operates a nursing home on Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park.

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