Adult Care Facilities Not Required to Call 911 When A Resident Is Missing
Waxahachie, TX (Law Firm Newswire) December 12, 2012 - According to elder care advocates, approximately 2,000 dependent adults go "missing" each year from adult care facilities.
Advocates are calling for a standard, quick response which would start with dialing 911, and are pushing for that 911 call to be law.
In Concord, CA, 86-year-old Yolanda Membreno left a residential facility and was later found by police dogs, deceased, at a playground just 100 yards away from the facility's front door. While caregivers had searched their facility for signs of Ms. Membreno, they did not call 911 when they noted her absence – a step which might have saved her life.
While caregivers at residential adult care facilities are required to contact the state immediately when someone has left the residence and may be in danger, there is currently no law that says they must contact the police. Now advocates are pushing for State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo to help draft a mandate to require authorities, including the police, be contacted immediately after a resident is deemed missing, or fails to return at a scheduled time.
"A family depends on a care facility to look after and care for their loved one, including keeping them safe from harm and from wandering away," noted Dallas elder law attorney John Hale.
The push for the new law currently has its sights set on adult care home facilities that are regulated under the California Department of Social Services by the Community Care Licensing Division. It does not, at this time, include skilled-nursing facilities, which follow different rules about what to do for residents, as licensed by the California Department of Health Services. But this law may have a ripple effect for other facilities and other licensing agencies.
Yolanda Membreno's family is questioning how her exit from her care facility went unnoticed, why staff did not call the police within the first hour of noting her absence, and why, the family says, they were informed that she had died peacefully in bed from a heart attack. Her daughter-in-law stated that the coroner informed them of what happened when he called them the next morning.
The facility denies that the family was told Ms. Membreno died in her bed. An investigation is pending.
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