NewJersey.com ran an editorial about the resident who was allowed to wander away from Preakness Healthcare Center in Wayne. A resident with dementia wandered out of the nursing home and was found more than two hours later, roaming in the snow and ice and subfreezing weather. 68-year-old Vidal Mojica, was rescued by members of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department. Mojica, who uses a walker to get around, was found behind the nursing home on Oldham Road wearing just a golf shirt, pants and shoes. Mojica was transported to St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital, where he was being treated for exposure to the cold.
One Preakness employee said Mojica would have to have climbed unsupervised down three flights of stairs with his walker to leave the building. The employee also said Mojica is the second resident to wander away from the nursing home since it opened in October.
While we understand the need to protect the confidentiality of a patient, we are disturbed by the county’s stonewalling about the circumstances of his escape from the facility. This is an issue that concerns not just one Preakness resident and his family; it is an issue of deep concern to every county resident.
Numerous questions need to be answered:
How could a patient using a walker have escaped so easily? How could he have gotten so far so fast and remained unseen for more than two hours?
Is there some design flaw in the new building that makes it susceptible to such "escapes"? If so, what steps are being taken to correct them?
Finally, has this happened before, and how can we be assured it won’t happen again?
Such a lack of information about what appears to be a severe breach in security in a brand-new, $90 million facility that has already taken on the scorn of taxpayers is not something the county or facility administrators can afford to just slough off.
Perhaps there is a perfectly reasonable explanation of how a 68-year-old man using a walker was able to elude authorities for more than two hours. If so, we’d love to hear it.