Midtown nursing home loses track of resident, again

By Jason Miles - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A technician took apart an alarm system Wednesday to try and determine if it malfunctioned when a dementia patient wandered out of Poplar Point Health and Rehab.

"I can confirm that we did have a person elope," said administrator Kelvin Hazel.

"Elope" is the preferred term of nursing home officials when speaking of a resident who escapes a facility undetected.

"We assess every resident for the likelihood of them eloping, or the risk of that," Hazel said.

He said measures should have been in place Tuesday to keep a 57-year-old man who suffers from dementia from walking out around 6:30 p.m.

He remained missing until nearly 7:00 a.m. Wednesday.  He was found miles away walking along Chelsea Avenue in North Memphis.

"If we feel like a patient is in danger or their safety compromised," said Hazel, "of course, we're very concerned about it."

Another Poplar Point patient with memory loss walked out in the middle of the night a year and a half ago.  A good Samaritan found her outside sitting on a curb in the freezing weather.

Action News 5 spoke with the 87-year-old woman's family at the time as she recovered in a hospital.  They were unsure of how she received cuts and bruises.

"When you have Alzheimer's or dementia you can't tell anybody what happened," said the woman's daughter.  "So, you're at the mercy of these people."

"I don't think there's a facility you could go in Memphis and Shelby County that has not had similar issues," said Kelvin Hazel.

Poplar Point was formerly known as Overton Park Nursing Home and has been the target of multiple DHS investigations.  One national watchdog group currently gives it a "much" below average rating.

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