A resident of the Oak Park Healthcare Center in Oak Park, Illinois wandered away from the facility in the early morning. He was found 12 hours later and almost five miles from the nursing home where he lived. The man crossed at least one four lane road before he was found sitting on a crate in the back of an office park.
The resident has Alzheimer’s Disease, a condition that causes profound and relentless memory loss. He was left to wander the facility in an area that contained an unalarmed elevator and he left the area.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has levied a $10,000 fine against the Oak Park Healthcare Center. The fine is partly because they allowed the error, but also because of the extended period between the discovery that the resident was known to have been missing and the time that the police and other authorities were finally alerted to the absence.
When a resident goes missing from a nursing home, the first thing staff and administration need to do is notify the police, hospitals, and other proper authorities. There is a 30 minute window in the Oak Park policy between the time a resident is discovered to be missing and the time when authorities need to be notified. This time frame was ignored. According to interviews given after the incident, the nurse on duty said that she did not contact authorities during that window because she was engaged in the search.
Obviously to the IDPH, that answer wasn’t nearly good enough, and it shouldn’t be. One additional searcher is no substitute for the legion of public servants who would have been alerted to the disappearance if they had been notified.
This is the second time in less than a year that we’re writing about a serious problem at Oak Park Healthcare Center. Last year a resident was beaten to death by a fellow resident during an altercation.
If you have a loved one in Oak Park Healthcare Center, and you feel they have been the victim of nursing home neglect, contact our experienced Orland Park nursing home attorneys for a free and confidential evaluation of your case.