Was negligent security to blame?

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On Wednesday evening, January 27th, an Alzheimer’s patient residing at Sandhill Gardens Retirement Center in Port Charlotte, Florida, apparently was able to open a sliding door and leave the premises.

Law enforcement officials said she was subsequently found dead on Thursday morning. While we emphasize that no accusations regarding negligent security have been made at this time, our experience tells us that this could be a factor in this tragic death.

Now, so many questions come into play regarding what happened to the patient, Sandra Ward. If you have a family member who lives in an assisted living facility, which is what Sandhill Gardens is classified as, you would expect there would be ample safeguards in place to prevent a resident from leaving at will. Sadly, it seems like it takes a tragic event like this before anyone responsible for operating and managing an assisted living property to pay attention.

These types of facilities, which are very prevalent in Southwest Florida because of our large number of elderly people and those suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, have a duty to provide a safe environment for their residents, and to do everything within their power to ensure something like this does not happen.

So many questions are now aimed at homes where these types of instance occur:

  • Did the assisted living facility have adequate locks on the doors that are accessible by the residents?
  • Are there security cameras set up to monitor the activity of the residents?
  • Are there adequate personnel on staff to monitor the cameras, if they have any?
  • Does the assisted living facility employ any on-site security staff?
  • Are security personnel properly and adequately trained and supervised?

An assisted living facility has an obligation under Florida law to exercise reasonable care in assuring that the dwelling itself is safe, and that all staff members are adequately trained in security measures designed to keep their residents safe and secure.

Authorities are said to be reviewing the security policies, if any, at Sandhill Gardens, and Ms. Ward’s exact cause of death has not been determined at this time.

The attorneys at Goldberg, Racila, D’Alessandro & Noone are well versed in the issues of negligent security, nursing home abuse and other legal cases that affect the elderly. It does not cost a thing to speak to us and determine if you may have a legal course of action should you find yourself in a similar situation as what just happened in Port Charlotte. We can be reached at 239-461-5508, or just complete this simple form and an attorney will contact you within 24 hours.

Don’t let someone push you around, or deny you your full legal rights.

(The news story via WBBH NBC-2 can be found here.)