Elderly woman with dementia found dead in hospital stairwell 11 DAYS after vanishing from care facility

A California woman with dementia was reportedly found dead in the power plant stairwell at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital 11 days after checking herself out of a care facility located on the same campus.

KNTV reported that the body of Ruby Andersen, 75, was found on the hospital’s campus Monday at 1 p.m.

The unsettling discovery comes nearly two weeks after Andersen signed herself out of the facility. Staff at the city-run facility reported Andersen missing the following day, May 20, when she didn’t return.

A deputy reportedly called the elderly woman’s family, hospital, medical examiner’s office, and local jail. The deputy also entered her information into the missing persons database, the local news station reported.

Sheriff Vicki Hennessy said a missing person flyer was circulated all over the hospital campus. Despite this, San Francisco Department of Public Health spokeswoman Rachael Kagan said it wasn’t until Wednesday when an engineering employee found Andersen inside the power plant building at the hospital, according to KPIX.

Kagan also claimed the building is secure and is mostly only accessed by engineering staff. However, the Associated Press reported that Department of Public Health’s San Francisco Health Network Roland Pickens said the building had been left open recently from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for personnel and vendors.

According to KPIX, Pickens also revealed that there were no cameras in the area where Andersen disappeared.

“We’re very concerned that this happened and we don’t know how this woman gained access to where she was found,” Kagan said.

Concerningly, the hospital underwent an overhaul following a similar incident five years earlier.

In October 2013, Lynne Spalding’s body was found in the hospital’s stairwell two weeks after she vanished from her hospital room. Officials deemed her death an accident, finding that the 57-year-old died from an electrolyte imbalance, a condition typically caused by dehydration.

Spalding’s family ultimately settled with the city for $3 million. In light of her death, the hospital implemented new policies for when a patient goes missing.

While deputies are instructed to inspect “every nook and cranny” of the hospital, the Associated Press found there’s no protocol in place for the residential care facility, which is also managed by the city’s public health department.

Pickens said Andersen’s autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.

Kagan said, “That was a terrible tragedy. We’ve made many, many changes since that time and we have no reason to believe that this case and that case are connected, but we don’t know very much about this situation yet.”

[Featured image: Ruby Andersen/Police handout]