By: Sarah Weiss
A woman entered Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx New York with respiratory problems - and she came out a victim of sexual assault.
Hilda Polanco, a Manhattan mother was sexually abused by a psychiatric patient after checking into a hospital in the Bronx in February, authorities said.
Polanco’s pain did not end there. Hospital staff downplayed the horrific crime, according to interviews and documents obtained by the news media.
Polanco’s attacker got away with only a slap on the wrist - and his 38-year-old victim was forced to stay overnight in the same room where she was attacked, exacerbating her trauma.
"If someone goes to a hospital, they should not leave the hospital worse than when before they came," Polanco told the news media.
She now struggles with depression and insomnia.
"After that day, my life has not been the same," she said. "Who can give me back my life?"
The shocking incident took place after Polanco, who suffers from chronic arthritis and severe allergies, came to the emergency room at Lincoln Hospital on February 7, with difficulty breathing.
Polanco was admitted and moved to a room on the eighth floor of the hospital at 6 am. During the next few hours, hospital staff saw a male patient lurking around her room.
At one point, the man rushed to his room, then stopped, said Polanco. Alarmed, Polanco asked a nurse who was the chubby man.
"A person with mental problems," said the nurse, according to Polanco.
Polanco went to sleep for about 3 hours and awoke to a horrific scene;The man was on top of her, grabbing her breasts and other private parts.
"I took his hands off my body and cried," Polcano said, who lives in Washington Heights, with her 12-year-old daughter. "He gave me a look of fear and ran from the room."
Polanco said it took several minutes for nurses to respond to her cries. When they finally appeared, they were scornful, she said.
"One of the nurses laughed and said, "All he wanted was to wake me up. All he wanted was to play,” said Polanco.
She filed a $20 million lawsuit against the hospital.