Contract nurse accused of setting staffer on fire, hitting her with wrench at Hackensack hospital

A contracted agency nurse allegedly set a Hackensack University Medical Center staff member on fire while they were in the break room.
The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office says that the incident happened around 5:15 a.m. Monday. They say that the staff member was attacked and suffered third-degree burns over her upper body and hand, as well as a laceration to her head that required stitches.
The alleged attacker was identified as 31-year-old Nicholas Pagano, of West Deptford.
A spokesperson for HUMC says that Pagano is an independent nurse contractor, which is a health care professional who works on a contract basis instead of being employed full time by one hospital. The contractor typically travels to different locations to help during staff shortages.
“Violence will not be tolerated in our network. Our doctors, nurses and teams are true heroes and deserve our respect. The safety of our patients and our team members is Hackensack Meridian Health’s highest priority,” a spokesperson for the hospital said in a statement.
Officials say that Pagano burned the 54-year-old victim and struck her in the head with a wrench. He then fled the hospital and drove away in a 1998 white Jeep Grand Cherokee with license plates S57NJH. She was treated in the emergency room and then transferred to Burn Center at St. Barnabas.
Pagano is still on the loose, and officials say that he should be considered armed and dangerous. He is wanted for attempted murder, aggravated arson, assault and weapons charges.
Officials say that Pagano passed all the necessary background checks before he was hired.
Anyone who may have information about the attack is urged to contact the Hackensack Police Department at 201-646-7777.