Dementia patient opens window, exits room
by Keith Stewart
An elderly woman residing at Mason Point and who suffered from dementia, was found dead Friday, October 4 after appearing to have exited out a window of the second floor of the Collins building, which houses those with Alzheimer’s and other similar degenerative diseases, according to Moultrie County deputy coroner Dave Reed and Chief Deputy Sheriff Chris Sims.
According to both reports, Connie Wren, 92, formerly of Decatur, was first found wandering on a nearby road prior to the incident and was subsequently placed in a room on the second level of the Collins Building; Wren previously resided in the Annex.
According to Sims’ report, Mason Point staff entered Wren’s room on the second floor at approximately 3:30 a.m. for a procedure that Friday, only to discover the window open and the screen placed under the bed. Soon after staff began searching for Wren, she was found outside on the ground, beneath the second floor window.
Reed was called to the scene and pronounced Wren dead at 4:12 a.m.
When asked in an email about the difficulty in opening the windows on the second floor and whether they should have been more secured, Mason Point administrator Darin Wall declined to comment, instead, explaining, “Unfortunately, the facility is not at liberty to release details of our ongoing internal investigation.”
Wall also explained that due to confidentiality concerns, Mason Point was not able to comment on Wren’s health condition and that the health center has released the following statement:
“The facility and staff are cooperating fully with all agencies investigating this tragic occurrence and will continue to do so. We are doing everything we possibly can at this time to provide any and all support needed to everyone involved in this terrible loss. Our hearts go out to the family and all who loved this wonderful person. Her death was a shocking and unexpected event that no one could have predicted or prepared for. She was loved by all who cared for her. We ask at this time everyone respect the privacy of the family and the staff dealing with this sudden and tragic loss. It is our understanding investigations are ongoing at this time and we have been advised not to comment further until all those investigations are complete.”
Wall also told the NP in an e-mail on October 7 that the facts Reed provided in his report were “incorrect”–however, the Mason Point administrator declined to identify the errors he alleged. When asked, Sims stood by the accuracy of his report, which mirrored that of Reed’s and noted the only dispute was the location Wren had been wandering prior to being placed in the Collins Building.
As required by state law whenever any death occurs at a nursing home or similar health center as a result of something other than natural causes, Wren’s death has been reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
According to a Department spokeswoman, Melanie Arnold, the Department is investigating the incident. If the healthcare facility is found in violation of the state’s Nursing Home Care Act, a penalty could be assessed in addition to other provisions designated by the Department.
Mason Point, which according to the Department’s website houses 106 residents, last underwent its annual inspection June 28. In its report, the Department noted just one deficiency, which was unrelated to proper facility accommodations or the care and handling of dementia patients.
Prior to the annual inspection, a separate survey was conducted January 9 of this year after receiving an unspecified number of complaints. The resulting report by the Department cited three deficiencies, all of which again were unrelated to proper facility accommodations or handling of residents with dementia.
The website also cites that Mason Point has not been penalized in the last three years and that it currently enjoys four out of five stars for its health inspection as well as for its overall rating from the Department.