Articles Posted in Wandering

This WaScreenshot-2023-12-19-153231-300x153shington Post Article on the problem of nursing home and assisted living residents wandering away from their facility is a must read. For many nursing facilities, the notion of “memory care” is little more than marketing to unsuspecting families who think mom or dad with dementia or Alzheimer’s will be receiving specialized care. Here at Southern California Nursing Home Law Group we have had several “elopement cases,” all of them resulting in fatalities.

page1-424px-Looqi_polsband_productfoto.pdfCan nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Chula Vista and Escondido do more to prevent wandering among dementia patients? According to a recent article in McKnight’s Senior Living, “wandering and elopement are among the oldest challenges senior living communities face.” While incidents of wandering often do not lead to any serious harm, in some cases, seniors who do not have proper supervision can sustain severe and even fatal injuries as a result of wandering from the facility. Typically, cases of wandering and elopement involve patients who are suffering from dementia.

Given that wandering often results from limited staffing that may rise to the level of nursing home neglect, certain innovators have begun to imagine ways in which technology might be able to help. As the article discusses, technological innovations, such as radio frequency and real-time location devices, as well as behavior-tracking tools, can allow facilities to track residents and to prevent them from wandering outside the facility.

Learning More About Statistics on Wandering and Elopement

blalock_t593.JPGA patient at the San Diego Health Center nursing home wandered away from the nursing facility on Wednesday and police have been unable to locate her. Verna Blalock, 76, who suffers from dementia was last seen at the facility located on Meadowlark Drive near Starling Drive. San Diego Health Center is one of San Diego County’s largest nursing homes, with over 300 beds, and includes a secured section for people with memory impairment like Ms. Blalock.

Ms. Blalock is described as 5 feet 4 inches in height and weighs approximately 135 pounds. She was wearing a pink and white striped shirt at the time of her elopement, which the nursing home says was the first time she has wandered away from the facility. It is currently unknown how she was able to escape from the building.

Anyone with any information about her whereabouts is asked to call San Diego Police at 619 531-2000, or the nursing facility at (858) 277-6460.

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The unspoken problem with California nursing homes is staffing. Not enough of it, and poor training for those who do it. Who knows what caused this major screw up, but you can be sure it’s related to staffing. A 94-year-old resident of Silverwood Senior Living Facility, a skilled nursing facility, went missing last month. Staff searched everywhere for the dementia patient, but couldn’t find her.

Thankfully, someone thought to check the walk-in freezer in the nursing home kitchen. There they found the resident locked inside the freezer where the temperature was set at five degrees. Thankfully she was unharmed. Still no one knows just how she got in the freezer, and the home, who has a history of regulatory violations, self-reported the incident as required by law.

Mark Mostow, a VP for the nursing home, released this obligatory statement about the resident: “We immediately conducted an investigation, and took appropriate corrective action against two employees. It’s an unfortunate incident, and we’re very sorry that it happened, and we’ll do everything in our power to ensure this does not happen again.”

The family of a man who was found dead in a ditch near a freeway overpass is blaming a Long Beach hospital for his death. Joseph Castillo, 63, had apparently been dead for several days when his body was found near the 405 Freeway near the 710 Freeway off-ramp.

According to family, Castillo suffered from advanced cancer, dementia, and diabetes, and had a trachea tube in his throat when he was released from Pacific Hospital in Long Beach at 2:00 a.m. on the 4th of July. He had been taken there when he collapsed at home the day before. After spending several hours in the hospital, he was released from the hospital, where it appears he just walked away.

When Castillo didn’t return home, the hospital called the police to report him missing. Castillo’s daughter said her family was unaware that her father was going to be released from the hospital, and expected that she, or someone else from her family, would have received a call to take the dementia suffering Castillo home. She believes her father was released prematurely because he was a Medi-Cal patient, and that he would be alive today had the family been contacted.

A few times a year we hear news stories of Alzheimer’s sufferers wandering away from their homes and becoming lost. Those stories end one of two ways, and unfortunately, too often the ending is not a happy one.

These sad stories have created a cottage industry for nursing home providers. We have all now heard of nursing homes advertising themselves with “special neighborhoods for the memory impaired.” Or providing “safe and secure” housing for the Alzheimer’s patient. But what happens when the victim wanders away from those facilities?

A few years ago, such a thing happened in Escondido. Then a 94-year-old woman walked out of Palomar Heights Care Center in Escondido and into the path of a car, killing her instantly. Caregivers told the media that they didn’t know what happened, but a subsequent lawsuit revealed some serious neglect on the part of the home.

The son of Maria Cobian, the elderly woman who was hit by a car and killed when she wandered away from her nursing home, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Vista Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleges that Palomar Heights Continuing Care Center in Escondido negligently failed to supervise Ms. Cobian, and to ensure the safety of 94-year-old resident, who also suffered from dementia. Ms. Cobian was only a few hundred yards away from the nursing facility when she walked into traffic and was struck by a car. The company of the car that hit Cobian was also named in the lawsuit.

Despite her alleged documented history of trying to leave the facility, and the nursing home’s failure to prevent it, it doesn’t appear that there are allegations of elder neglect under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act against the facility, which allows for enhanced damages against nursing homes, including pre-death pain and suffering, when certain burdens of proof are met.

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