The Minnesota Star Tribune reported the tragic case of Allene M. Hookom who suffered severe burns and died after falling into a tub of scalding laundry water, according to a state Health Department report that faults the home’s staff for leaving a laundry door open and unattended.
A week before the incident, a family member spoke to a facility representative about Hookom’s safety in connection with her wandering. The family member said “the facility assured her the resident was still appropriate to live there and she would be safe,” the state report read.
Hookom, who generally relied on a wheelchair to get around, was spotted three times that day approaching the end of the hall where the laundry room was and was sent away each time.
Eventually, Hookom walked through the laundry room’s unlocked door and ended up on her back in the uncovered concrete catch basin, where hot water drains from a washer hose.
A nursing assistant found an alert Hookom face up in the accumulating hot water about 3 p.m. and heard her faintly calling for help.
Hookom suffered second-degree burns to her back, waist, buttocks, legs, ankles and feet, leaving some of her skin bright red and peeling. The water was kept at that 155-degrees to disinfect the laundry. She died the next afternoon at Hennepin County Medical Center.
State Health Department investigators found that the operators of Auburn Manor were negligent when the 90-year-old resident, known to wander unsupervised throughout the facility, ended up on her back in a few inches of 155-degree waste water on Dec. 31.