I doubt that the facility even knew he was missing.  Staten Island Live had a story about a resident who walked away from the facility on Friday but the facility failed to either recognize that he was missing or failed to contact the police or his family for 48 hours.  This is outrageous but not a surprise knowing how short staffed most facilities are these days.

The man, identified as Richard Constable, 66, walked off the grounds of the 200-bed facility sometime Friday but staffers didn’t call police until Sunday morning, when a therapist finally noticed his patient was missing a session.

"They felt they would get a better [police] response if they waited until Sunday," said Claudia Hutton, spokeswoman for the state Health Department that licensed the facility. "We were surprised by that. You call the police as soon as you realize a person is missing."  Hutton, of the Health Department, said Lakeside probably would be given a citation in the case, and called the response "inappropriate policy."  Probably?  Why not definitely?

Lakeside has drawn complaints from neighbors who say the residents there are publicly drunk, urinate on lawns and litter properties with trash and cigarette butts. But Anthony Caccamo, who lives across the street, said the patients aren’t the problem.

"It’s the staff; they’re just nasty, miserable people," said Caccamo, 35. "They don’t care."

 

 Fox8.com out of Cleveland had a recent story about a nursing home resident who was left unattended and allowed to leave the facility unsupervised.  The resident ended up walking on the road and getting hit by a car.  She died from injuries sustained in the  "hit and run" accident.  What is amazing about this story is how the article concentrates blame on the driver of the vehicle instead of the nursing home which was responsible for keeping this resident safe and out of harm’s way.  The nursing home should have been watching her and not allow her to leave the premises unsupervised.

Citing declining health, her family recently convinced her to check into the nursing home.   She was very unhappy there and wanted to return home.  This is a clear sign of a risk for wandering.  Her family says she was supposed to be staying in a "locked-down area" when she somehow was allowed to escape.

"There was a security door in her room that she was able to disable at 87 years old. They appear to be very short staffed at night. We were told there was a loud alarm going off but no one went looking to see what was going on," says Meldrum.

According to the Avon Police Department, several 911 calls came in Friday evening alerting them of a car versus pedestrian crash in front of the Good Samaritan Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center on Detroit Road. When officers arrived to the scene, they found Warren lying on the side of the road.  Police say the suspect vehicle did not stop after the accident and drove away from the scene.

Is there any investigation as to why and how she was able to leave the nursing home without being noticed?  how long was she missing?  Why didn’t anyone hear the alarm or respond to it? Was the nursing home short-staffed?

Wickedlocal.com had a recent article about the wrongful death of a resident caused by the neglect and incompetence of the nursing home staff.  This death was clearly preventable if the facility was not understaffed and the employees were doing their jobs.

Julia McCauley was a resident who on the morning of Aug. 17, 2004, rolled her wheelchair unattended out the front door of the Life Care Center of Acton, and tumbled down a flight of stairs causing her death.  McCauley was not wearing a doctor-prescribed WanderGuard bracelet designed to set off an alarm and lock the doors if McCauley got too close to the exit.

Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office believes that McCauley’s death could have been avoided had she been wearing her electronic bracelet and that the nursing home’s parent company, Life Care Centers of America, is culpable.

Of course, Life Care Center officials deny any wrongdoing and refuse to accept responsibility.  What ever happened to accountability?  Life Care Center is charged with manslaughter and neglect of a long-term care facility resident.   If convicted, the Tennessee-based corporation would only face a possible fine not to exceed $6,000.

Life Care operates more than 200 facilities in 28 states, including several that have come under scrutiny in the past.  In 2005, the company paid $2.5 million to resolve allegations of billing Medicaid and Medicare for services that were never provided or were useless to the residents of a Lawrenceville, Ga., facility.

The Acton facility in the past was fined $2,112 in the fall of 2005 and $11,147 in December 2006 for various deficiencies found during routine state checks. In July 2007, state and federal regulators imposed fines totaling more than $164,000 for deficiencies that jeopardized residents’ safety. But the fines were rescinded after the facility promised to correct the deficiencies.

 

 

 

 

The Chicago Tribune has had a series of articles about the tragic death of a nursing home resident who was unsupervised and allowed to wander away from the facility.  The articles are good although many questions remain unanswered.  See articles here, here, here, and here.  Below is a summary of what I believe has been found out thus far.

Sarah Wentworth — who suffered from dementia — was found in a snowbank outside The Arbor of Itasca the cold morning of Feb. 5.  She had been exposed to the elements for at least 90 minutes and more likely 5 hours. Wentworth was unable to leave her bed without assistance.   No one is sure how she could have left her room and the building without being noticed by staff.  Staff are required to do a bed check every two hours.  She was known by staff to be a wanderer and wore an ankle bracelet that reminded the staff.

Wentworth was wearing only a hospital gown when police arrived at the nursing home.  She had on an ankle bracelet that should have (and may have) triggered an alarm at the facility’s nursing station when she passed through the first of two exit doors.   Inside the nursing station at The Arbor of Itasca is a handwritten note reminding staff that "if this buzzer sounds, staff must go out to the courtyard to check for a resident."

Nursing home staff members told Itasca police they checked the door to the courtyard when the alarm went off, but did not see anyone.   No mention of a polygraph test was noted.

Neglect and obstruction of justice charges may be filed against as many as four employees. Heidi Leon, a 23-year-old staff member on duty the night of the incident, was watching TV in a room adjacent to the nursing station when Wentworth exited a door and triggered the alarm.  She watched three straight episodes of "Dog The Bounty Hunter" and "shrugged off " an alarm that indicated a resident had wandered outside into near-zero conditions.  Instead of checking the courtyard as instructed, the staff member assumed someone "stepped outside to have a cigarette" and turned the alarm off "so it didn’t distract her television program."

Tom Hendrix, an attorney for the nursing home, did not respond directly to the allegations but said that "policies and procedures were in place for the supervision and safety of residents, including an alarm system which was in working order." Hendrix did admit that some employees had been suspended.

Mr. Hendrix nor the nursing home employees can explain how she got outside.   She was unable to get out of bed on her own.  Although an alarm sounded at a secure door during the middle of the night when Wentworth left the building, no nursing home employee checked on her.   The outside temperature that morning was about 1 degree.

Heidi Leon was charged Tuesday with criminal neglect of a long-term-care facility resident, criminal neglect of an elderly person and obstruction of justice. If convicted, she faces up to 7 years in prison.

 

 

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.

 

 Richard Wagamese had a revealing story for the Calgary Herald about accountability and the preventable death of a friend’s loved one at a nursing home.  Below are excerpts and a summary of that tragic story.  The mother of one of his friends was found frozen to death outside the nursing home the day after Christmas. She was 84 year-old and had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.   Her name was Juliette (Julie) Bombardier and she was a great-grandmother, grandmother, wife, friend, confidante and valued member of her community.

Mr. Wagamese mentions that Julie inexplicably managed to get out of doors that were ostensibly locked, but are often propped open by staff who pop outside for a smoke. In the early morning hours, dressed in a nightgown, she froze to death in a snowdrift, a few yards from that door. She died there, alone and unprotected. Nearly three hours after the search for her was initiated, my friends were there when she was discovered.

The real tragedy according to Mr. Wagamese in Julie’s death is not the loss itself.  It’s the refusal of the company that runs the nursing home to take responsibility. Instead of saying, "there was a failure in our system that resulted in a death and we’re taking immediate steps to prevent it happening again" and honouring the loss of Juliette Bombardier, they rely on the standard "we’re conducting our own internal investigation". There doesn’t need to be an investigation. The system failed. Period.

The obfuscation and shrugging off of direct responsibility is a dishonouring of Julie’s death and a dishonouring of her family’s grief.

They tell us that all the doors were locked until staff had finished their search of the building.  What they are asking all of us to believe is that an 84-year-old dementia patient managed to negotiate her way through a secure facility, passed trained supervisory staff, out a locked door and then somehow managed to lock it behind herself again and froze to death.

To suggest we believe that is a dishonouring of everyone.  There are a lot of seniors in care in such facilities all across the country. They are not just Alzheimer’s patients, stroke victims, addled, debilitated, frail, helpless or needy. They’re somebody’s grandmother, somebody’s mother and somebody’s friend. They are not numbers in a ledger, not a part of somebody’s financial bottom line — they are a part of our collective history and they are valuable.

Richard Wagamese, a former Calgary Herald columnist, is the 2007 recipient of the Canadian Authors Association Award for fiction and a former National Newspaper Award-winning columnist.

 

The Tampa Tribune had an article about a resident missing from a nursing home.  How can the facility allow a vulnerable elderly person to wander way from the facility?  Who is supervising the residents? Why didn’t the door alarm go off?  Or did the staff fail to respond to the alarm?  Were they short-staffed?

A search is under way for Carl Seiden who disappeared from The Fountains, his assisted living facility in North Tampa.  Seiden suffers from dementia.  The sheriff’s office describe him as 6 feet tall with a thin build and beard. He walks with a cane and was last seen wearing brown pants and a beige shirt, the sheriff’s office said.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (813) 247-0929.
 

This entry is a follow-up to the entry about a resident in Concord, N.C. who was allowed to wander away from the nursing home and fll off a loading dock.  A state investigation shows that a nursing home in Concord made several mistakes, which played a role in the death of a patient.  The 21-page report says that the staff and director of Five Oaks Manor knew that 87-year-old Annie Bell Scarboro was at risk for wandering because she had wandered off before.

State inspectors from the Department of Health and Human Services went into Five Oaks Manor in December after the Alzheimer’s patient died. The report shows Scarboro got through three sets of doors unsupervised.

First, she went through the dining room doors. A worker says those doors hadn’t locked properly for at least eight months. Then, Scarboro went through the kitchen doors and out a back door leading to the loading dock. The back door, according to the report, had no alarm.

Scarboro fell 4 feet off the loading dock .The "merry walker" chair she used to get around landed on top of her. A nurse who found Scarboro told inspectors, "I went out there and saw her blood was running everywhere."

A nursing assistant at Five Oaks told investigators, "Everyone knew that she wandered around. We all knew that she did that. She got out that kitchen door before."  The report shows that on May 22, 2008, Scarboro had exited the building through the same kitchen door.   The solution then was to check on her every 15 minutes.

The state investigation found the nursing home failed to meet several federal standards of care, meaning Five Oaks could be forced to pay a big fine and could lose their funding altogether.

NewsChannel 36 tried to get comment from the director, but he hung up on us.

To view the full 21-page report, click here.   The report does not mention the staffing levels at the time of the incident.
 

Fort Worth Star Telegram had an article about a nursing home facility that allowed a resident to wander away from the facility unsupervised.  The resident is a 67-year-old woman with an aggressive form of Alzheimer’s disease who walked away from a Fort Worth nursing home.

The woman was last seen about 5 a.m. at the Tanglewood Oaks nursing home.  Police described the woman, Linda Kay Eichelberger, as white, 5-feet 3-inches tall, weighing about 135 pounds, with blond hair. Police think she may have tried to walk to her home near TCU.

Anyone with information about Eichelberger can contact Fort Worth police at 817-335-4222.

I am not sure how this happens when the facility knows that the woman suffers from dementia. Why weren’t they keeping an eye on her?  How long was she missing before they even noticed?  Did they have a wanderguard on her? Were the doors locked to the facility?  Did they have enough staff to watch her?

 

The Charleston Gazette out of West Virginia had an article about the tragic and clearly preventable death of a nursing home resident who wandered away from the facility unsupervised and was struck by a train on nearby tracks.  Why didn’t the facility notice he was missing?  Why weren’t they able to prevent him from wandering away from the facility? What was their staffing level on that day?  Did they have a wanderguard on him?

In a lawsuit filed in Kanawha Circuit Court, George W. King Sr.’s children, Sharon Milam and George W. King Jr., allege that Heartland of Charleston, a subsidiary of Health Care and Retirement Corp. of America, LLC, failed to properly monitor the 73-year-old former owner of Pineview Cemetery in Orgas.  "George King Sr. could not care for himself or be allowed to walk outside the facility and the staff of the facility at Heartland of Charleston was aware of this fact," the suit reads.

Workers at the facility failed to follow the company’s established protocols for missing residents and failed to adequately supervise King.  "The staff of Heartland of Charleston failed to keep him secure in the facility, failed to immediately discover that he had left the facility, searched for him in the wrong area (because they confused him with a different person who had left the facility on a prior date), failed to use the exterior security cameras to identify the direction in which he left the facility and failed to utilize all available resources to locate him quickly [such as a search dog team]," the suit states.