See article about the tragic and preventable death of a long time nursing home resident. Mark Billiter died as a result of the nursing home’s failure to realize and communicate to police that he was missing from the nursing home. Billiter suffered from a heart attack-induced dementia which made him confused and wander away from the nursing home. Police reports indicate he used the elevator security code and walked out while following another patient’s visitor. A nursing home staff member ushered them both out, the reports show.The nursing home is required to supervise him to keep him safe.
Billiter had slipped out the care facility where he had lived for years. Billiter had not been reported missing by the time a Canton police officer encountered him hours later. The police found him but no one informed them he was missing from a nursing home. They drove him to the city limits. National Weather Service records show the temperature dropped to 32 degrees and was below freezing Monday into Tuesday with a wind chill consistently in the 20s. He was found dead there two days later.
“This is a person who has obviously lived in a sheltered care facility for three years and is now outside …,” said Tracey Laslo, the family’s attorney. “He lacks cognition to live outside of a nursing facility. This was supposed to be a safe harbor and a place of protection for him. He was a known risk. That’s the reason he was in a secured unit,” she said.
“If the nursing facility had reported this to the family and to police, this tragic ending would not have happened. The police would’ve been able to secure him and return him, and Mark would’ve been OK at this point. The travesty in this case is the nursing home did not follow (its) own policy. There should’ve been an immediate perimeter check of the facility by the staff, the family should have then been contacted so that they could assist and the police should’ve been contacted.”