State releases details of woman’s death at nursing home

By Staff Reports -

PANDORA — A 76-year-old resident of Hilty Home spent nearly eight hours in the courtyard outside the nursing home in temperatures below zero before being found dead from hypothermia, according to an investigation by the Ohio Department of Health.

Phyllis Campbell, a resident of the facility, was discovered in the courtyard of the Pandora facility on Jan. 7. Temperatures dipped below minus-2 degrees that night. According to the report, Campbell was in Hilty Home’s memory care unit, and she frequently attempted to leave the facility.

Campbell was found 30 feet from the dining room doors, near a swing set, with a bag of Combos and a water bottle.

According to the state report, three state-tested nurses aides and a licensed practical nurse were placed on administrative leave. Two of the nurses aides acknowledged they didn’t do scheduled checks at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., even though the checks were documented as completed.

Putnam County Sheriff Brian Siefker said the sheriff’s office also completed its investigation of the incident and forwarded its findings to the Putnam County Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutor Gary Lammers did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

According to the state’s investigation, Campbell got up shortly after she was put to bed, around 12:35 a.m. She made her way past a propped-open door to the dining room and left through a door to the courtyard, which had an alarm that should have sounded for 90 seconds. She wore a device called a “wander guard” that should’ve alerted staff of her exit, but when officials tested it, it didn’t always go off when it passed sensors.

The state investigation, which included a team of investigators from the Ohio Department of Health, showed staff didn’t realize Campbell was missing until around 8:15 a.m. the following morning. Campbell apparently died between 1 and 2 a.m., according to the coroner’s preliminary investigation.

According to the reports, some procedures changed immediately following the incident, reducing the severity of the facility’s standing from “immediate jeopardy” to “potential for harm.” Hilty Home removed devices that held open doors from its memory care unit and changed its door alarm to the dining room exit doors to a continuously sounding alarm. The facility also replaced “wander guards” for the eight remaining people in the memory care unit. The facility remains out of the compliance until a plan of correction is officially submitted, investigated and approved.

Officials from Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio, which owns the facility, did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. Earlier this month, CEO Laura Voth issued a statement.

“This is personal work and our staff and elders become like family. Our sympathy is extended to the family in their time of loss,” Voth said in the prepared statement.

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By Staff Reports

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