Articles Posted in Wandering

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“They get into trouble, they fix things up just enough to get back into compliance and then they let things slip again. This cycle just goes on for years. Meanwhile, there are people living in these places.”

-Toby Edelman, senior policy attorney for the Center for Medicare Advocacy to the Lexington Herald-Leader

A tragic story out of a northern Kentucky nursing and rehabilitation center has reignited a topic that we know causes a great deal of confusion and frustration for the loved ones of nursing home residents. How does one find out who the owners of a nursing home actually are and what their history of patient care is? The details of the wrongful death case of 45-year-old Bobby Crail help highlight the ability of nursing homes to repeatedly get away with maltreatment and even skirt financial and legal responsibility. It also highlights why if your loved one has been mistreated, abused, or neglected in a nursing home, you need an attorney who has both the experience and tenacity to successfully stand up to major corporations capable of these horrific behaviors.

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Last year, a 75 year old man suffering from Alzheimer’s was aggressively arrested and pepper sprayed after he was discovered wandering within the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, NJ. He was left blind as a result of the pepper spray and spent the last 10 months of his life never again able to see his daughters. According to a lawsuit filed this month in Passaic County court, Angel Pantoja was freely roaming the halls at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehab, where he was a resident. For unknown reasons, nursing home staff alerted local police that a resident was on the loose within the facility, exaggerating his behavioral and health status enough to lead police to believe that forceful arrest measures were necessary. When the responding officer came across Mr. Pantoja in a hallway, they claimed he was carrying an unidentified weapon and advancing towards the officer, justifying his use of pepper spray. The pepper spray blinded him, a pre-arrest tactic that the lawyer for his estate deemed unnecessary. As a result, Mr. Pantoja was hospitalized and was blind until he died 10 months later. He was also arrested and charged with assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. The responding officer said in a statement that he was led to believe that Mr. Pantoja was dangerous because the facility told him Mr. Pantoja had stabbed one of his own daughters in the eye, a claim his daughter denies.

While family acknowledges that the pepper spray was not Mr. Pantoja’s cause of death, the complaint filed by his family against both the local police and the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehab says they are seeking damages for their father having to “sustain mental anguish, distress and damage. [He] was never able to open his eyes again and was not able to see his daughters in his time of passing.”

Local Police Trained to Handle Situations Involving Those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

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The son of a woman whose body was found 9 months after wandering from The Wesley Residence nursing home in West Duluth, Minnesota has finally received justice. In 2013, Mark Gerard’s mother, Dale Gerard, was 74 years old and suffering from dementia, as well as behaviors that were considered aggressive and dangerous to herself. She was considered to be at risk for wandering, so much so that she was required to be accompanied both inside and outside of the facility and wore a device called a WanderGuard. A WanderGuard is designed to alert staff when a resident has left their room or designated space.

In July 2013, Ms. Gerard disappeared from The Wesley Residence. 9 fruitless months of searching went by, with the police calling on the public for help in locating her. In April 2014, her mummified body was found caught in a fence just 3 miles from the nursing home.

Nursing Home Admits Liability

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The Chicago Tribune reported that former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood discovered the body of a 40-year-old nursing home resident while he was paddle boarding in Lake Michigan on Monday morning. According to reports, the baseball star immediately called 911. Soon after pulling the man’s body out of the water, detectives were able to identify him thanks to an I.D. tag on his wrist.

The name of the victim has not yet been released, but most of the initial reports we’ve seen say that the man lived in a North Side Chicago nursing home but was reported missing after being discharged from a local hospital on June 19. Current reports have not revealed where the victim lived, but there are a number of facilities located in the Edgewater neighborhood surrounding the 5400 block of North Broadway, including All American Nursing Home and Bryn Mawr Care.

Without knowing more about this particular case, it is difficult to say who, if anyone, is responsible for his wandering and ultimate death. Through our work with nursing home residents and their families, we have handled a number of cases involving resident elopement or wandering. Many nursing home residents who suffer from dementia or mental illness pose an elopement risk, and nursing homes are obligated to provide proper supervision and assistance to reduce this risk. Residents who are unfit to leave the facility but do so may face serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Therefore facilities must be sufficiently staffed with employees who are properly trained to care for residents who have a tendency to wander.

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The Chicago Tribune reported today on disturbing news out of a Chicago nursing home. Staff members at the Alshore Nursing Home recently explained that one of their elderly residents went missing from the facility on Friday morning.

The 79-year old female resident was last seen by nursing home staff members around 9 a.m. She was walking around with an unidentified man who appeared to be in his sixties. The resident told staff members that the man was her brother; she then left the facility with him. However, it was eventually discovered that the woman does not have a brother. It is unclear how the staff members could have failed to properly identify the stranger before he left with the woman.

Police are looking for help locating the woman. She stands 4-foot 9 inches, and has brown hair and eyes. The nursing home where she was last seen is located on the 2800 block of West Foster Avenue. She suffers from diabetes on is on medication to treat it. She also may be suffering from dementia.
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A new nursing home lawsuit has recently been filed alleging misconduct following the tragic death of a 71-year-old nursing home resident

Nancy Kinder was living at the Hunter Acres Caring Center, reports KSPR News. However, while at the facility staff members did not provide the proper oversight and close care that Nancy needed. In mid-March of this year that negligent care ultimately led to Nancy’s death.

On March 18th Nancy was found dead near railroad tracks that ran close to the nursing home. At some point in the day, she had wandered out of Hunter Acres and stumbled onto the tracks where she was hit.

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Go San Angelo Standard-Times is reporting that an assisted living facility has been cited in relation to a nursing home neglect incident where a resident froze to death outside the building. The 89-year-old resident wrongfully died of hypothermia. The nursing home failed to adequately supervise the resident, jeopardizing her safety. The woman was found outside, dead on the sidewalk in the early morning. Her body was covered in ice and she had a light jacket.

According to a staff member, the resident was supposedly in her room at 4 a.m. She told authorities that she “thought” she saw the resident in her bed. This particular resident had an assessment that stated she “wanders frequently and indiscriminately.” Wandering and elopement are serious issues in nursing homes that must be addressed and monitored. The nursing home report showed that this particular patient had eloped from the facility at least five times. While the facility did have an alarm system, staff members stated that it was common knowledge that the pager system wasn’t working. To read more about this case of elopement, please click the link.

The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have seen wandering and elopement in the past. In C.B. v American Baptist Homes of the Midwest, they helped the victim reach a $950,000 nursing home negligence lawsuit. This also involved a patient who wandered from the home and froze to death. This pattern of nursing home negligence was again seen in the case of C.T., special administrator of the estate of D.F. v. Manorcare Health Services, Inc. et al. In this specific case the nursing home lawyers helped secure a $825,000 for the death of resident.

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Wandering and elopement has become a great problem in nursing homes throughout the country. When patients are not properly monitored they can leave the securities of their facilities and find themselves without guidance in the outside community.

The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have filed many lawsuits on behalf of the victims of wandering and elopement and have won favorable verdicts. For example, our attorneys helped a victim obtain a $950,000 settlement against the American Baptist Homes of the Midwest. This case involved an 85-year-old woman with dementia who was allowed to wander outside and freeze to death. This same fact pattern occurred in a case against Manorcare Health Services. In that case, Levin & Perconti helped the family of a 75-year-old victim receive an $825,000 settlement. Once again, the victim was wandering in the bitter cold and died of hypothermia. Wandering unfortunately has become all too common in nursing homes.

A nursing home can take measures to minimize elopement exposure. The first way is to establish a written elopement risk-management plan. They can also establish written screening criteria for identifying residents who may become potential elopers. By keeping normal exit alarms and making sure that all stairwells are alarmed, most nursing homes can help reduce wandering. Finally, the staff should be quick to investigate any activated door alarms. Nursing home staff should be trained to closely monitor the whereabouts of all of their patients. To learn all the ways that nursing homes can diminish wandering and elopement please click the link.

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A resident who suffered from dementia wandered out of a nursing home and was found more than two hours later, roaming in the snow and ice and subfreezing weather. The 68-year-old woman was rescued by members of the sheriff’s department. She uses a walker get around and was found behind the nursing home wearing just a golf shirt, pants and shoes. After being found wandering the victim was treated for exposure to the cold. The victim had to climb down three flights of stairs with his walker to escape the building. The victim is the second resident to wander away from the nursing home since it opened in October. The nursing home needs to address how a patient using a walker could have escaped so easily. Also all nursing homes need to ensure that wandering does not occur at their facilities. To read more about the wandering patient, please click the link.

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A former nursing assistant apologized for allowing 89-year-old Sarah Wentworth to freeze to death last winter after she wandered out of her Itasca, Illinois nursing home. The nursing assistant never checked a door alarm that sounded at two in the morning when the elderly woman left the Arbor of Itasca nursing home during zero degree temperatures. The woman offered an apology after pleading guilty to criminal neglect an obstruction of justice in the victim’s death, which an autopsy concluded was caused by hypothermia. The woman was given credit for the six months in jail that she served since her arrest and was placed on probation for 30 months. The nursing home negligence plea brought little comfort to the victim’s family, who said the penalty wasn’t severe enough given the agonizing death of their loved one. The victim had Alzheimer’s and a propensity for wandering. After she triggered the alarm the employee did not check the door as required, but simply turned off the alarm and continued watching “Dog: The Bounty Hunter.” An investigation showed that the employees at the nursing home tried to hide how the victim died by returning her to her room and changing her clothes, although no other workers were charged in her death. The woman’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home. To read more about the nursing home abuse, please click the link.