Capital Care Center, an Illinois nursing home, has been fined by federal health officials for failing to prevent an dementia resident from tumbling down an unsecured stairway in his wheelchair. Illinois Department of Public Health reports claim Alfred ‘Stan’ Catherwood, a World War II veteran, suffered from dementia and was considered a high risk for wandering from the nursing home.
Despite being a ‘high risk’ for wandering, the nursing home allowed Mr. Catherwood to sit strapped into his wheelchair near a second floor stairway. The stairway was unequipped with a key-code lock or automated alarm. Without knowledge of the nursing home staff, Catherwood entered the stairway and fell down weight stairs. Mr. Catherwood fractured his neck and facial bones in the fall.
As a result of this incident, Capital Care Center received a $3,500 fine for failing to provide adequate supervision. Following this incident, nursing home officials also installed a keypad lock on the door and posted signs encouraging visitors and staff to make sure doors remain locked behind them.
Once again, this incident demonstrates how simple precautions can ensure a safe nursing facility. Too often nursing homes fail to take basic steps to protect their residents. In this case, the nursing home staff redirecting a dementia patient when he is in harm’s way and installing a $10 safety device would likely have prevented a serious injury to this elderly man.