The Daily Herald had a story about another woman found dead outside a nursing home.  Nursing homes have a duty to properly staff and supervise the residents especially when they know a resident is demented or confused and attempts to wander off the premises. 

The article mentions that authorities are investigating the death of an 89-year-old Itasca nursing home resident, found in her nightgown and bare feet outside in subfreezing temperatures.  Sarah Wentworth died last week at the Arbor of Itasca.

Police said they received a 911 call and rushed to the private facility at 5:43 a.m.  By that time, the resident was unresponsive but covered in blankets, lying on a gurney inside the facility.  Nursing home staff reported they tried to revive Wentworth after finding her in an outdoor courtyard. She was pronounced dead shortly later. She had dementia, but the nursing home never documented a history of wandering off.

The circumstances that led to her tragic preventable death have sparked at least three investigations. Itasca Police Chief Scott Heher said police uncovered conflicting information after interviewing the nine Arbor employees who were on duty. He said police were told Wentworth was sleeping in her bed during a 3 a.m. well-being check, but that she disappeared by 5 a.m. when staff looked in on her again. An employee reported hearing an alarm door sound, but Heher said it was not investigated beyond a cursory hallway check.

Police question whether the 3 a.m. check ever occurred. Furthermore, Wentworth was not dressed in the same clothing when police arrived as she was earlier that morning.   Her clothing could not be found.

"I think she wandered out there alone," Chief Heher said. "It’s an absolute tragedy. There are a number of mechanisms in place at the Arbor to ensure these things don’t happen. Obviously, there was a systems breakdown that night. We’re investigating to see if criminal charges apply."

Reports on more than a dozen other unrelated Arbor complaints are listed on the state’s Web site.  The facility has a one-star rating, much below average, based on prior complaints, staffing levels and the results of its three most recent inspections, according to the Federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

 

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