Resident with dementia leaves Washington County nursing home, climbs fence without detection

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ARGYLE — The staff at Washington Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation is investigating how a resident with dementia was able to get out of the facility, climb a fence and make his way to Route 40 one night last week.

Police were called the evening of April 10 after an employee of the nursing home noticed a resident walking along the highway shortly before 5:30 p.m.

The employee stopped and stayed with the man and called 911. Washington County sheriff’s officers and state police responded and the resident was brought back to the home.

Jeffrey Jacomowitz, a spokesman for Centers Health Care, the company that owns the home and a number of others in the region, said the resident was checked by the facility medical staff, including a physician, and found to be unharmed.

He said the company was reviewing what happened, and he said it appeared the resident was able to override a door locking system by holding the handle for an extended period of time.

The man then climbed over a 6-foot-high fence to get off the grounds and started walking east through a field toward the highway.

Jacomowitz said an alarm was triggered, but staff either didn’t hear it or didn’t react to it in a timely manner, and the man was able to get off the property.

“The ‘No-Wander System,’ technology put in place to prevent elopement, was reviewed by the facility administrator, director of maintenance and nursing, indicating that the alarm was activated,” Jacomowitz said. “Since the incident, the administrator said that all staff has been re-educated on the system in place and an ongoing investigation continues.”

The state Department of Health will be notified as required, he added.

The Washington Center was formerly known as Pleasant Valley Infirmary when Washington County owned it. It was renamed Washington Center when Centers Health Care purchased it in 2013.

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