Assisted-living facility fined after resident with dementia wanders outside, freezes to death

The state of Wisconsin has fined a Sun Prairie assisted-living facility after an elderly resident with dementia was found frozen to death outside last year.

WISC reported that Faith Gardens was fined $4,200 and was ordered to not accept any new residents after Alice L. McGaw, 84, was found dead behind a nearby business on the morning of December 29. Reports indicated that it was -10 degrees on the morning she was found.

A 42-page inspection report, which read in full below, determined that Faith Gardens didn’t utilize a front-door alarm and left an inside door open. Additionally, the Wisconsin Department of Human Services wrote that staff failed to routinely check on McGaw, who had a history of attempting to leave the facility.

In the report, the woman’s family claimed they moved her to Faith Gardens after their mother rolled out the back door of her old facility and was nearly hit by a car.

“[T]he family decided to be proactive and look for a smaller facility, and with winter coming they wanted a more secure environment,” officials wrote.

Though McGaw’s care plan indicated that she was to wear an alarm bracelet, the report accused staff of failing to use the bracelet system. A day before McGaw’s death, administrators said she should be checked every 30 minutes instead of hourly, according to the Wisconsin State-Journal.

Alarmingly, WMTV found that Faith Gardens had violations that went as far back as early 2016 to as recent as a couple of months ago.

Since the incident, the facility started keeping a list of names of wanderers and now use a tool which assesses a patient’s likelihood of eloping, according to WISC. Documents also indicate that administrators intend to upgrade their door alarm systems.

Faith Gardens cannot accept new patients until appropriate corrections are made.


[Featured Image: Faith Gardens/WISC video screengrab]