Dementia resident's death at Faith Gardens raises concern over security

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Sun Prairie assisted living facility had until today to file an appeal for four citations the Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued to them 10 days ago.

NBC 15 asked Faith Gardens Memory Care whether they planned to appeal and they declined to comment.

The Notice of Violation will not allow the facility to take in any new patients and requires Faith Gardens to pay $4,200. The notice comes after a resident with dementia was found dead outside of the facility in December.

The resident, 84-year-old Alice McGaw, was known by her family to wander- which is why they chose to move her from a traditional nursing home to an assisted living facility that specializes in dementia.

According to documents from the DHS, Faith Gardens had documented McGaw wandering throughout the facility on several occasions, and knew she had a tendency to wander.

On the night she escaped, it appears the front doors were propped open and alarms weren't activated, according to the DHS.

Rob Gundermann, a dementia advocate from the Alzheimer's and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin, said that the State doesn't have concrete requirements for differences in practices at assisted living facilities that specialize in dementia.

"If you are going to say you provide specialized care for people wiith dementia, you have to provide specialized care for people with dementia. In Wisconsin, we don't have requirements for what that is. And that's a big part of the problem here. We've tried to get a thing called 'special care unit disclosure' and that would not mandate anything for what a special care unit is, but that you would have to disclose what is different about it," Gundermann explained.

At a basic level, however, he says any assisted living facilities should be secure for residents.

"You have to have doors that are alarmed and you have to have those that are listening for those alarms. An alarmed door cannot go off, close, and not be checked. That is absolutely unacceptable and the department has reached the same conclusion," said Gundermann.

This isn’t the first time Faith Gardens has had violations. State records show a number of violations at the facility stemming back from early 2016, and many as recent as a few months ago.

McGaw was found dead outside of Faith Gardens Memory Care on December 29th. The preliminary autopsy results from the Dane County Medical Examiner show hypothermia was likely a contributor to her death.