Deputies describe search for Alzheimer's patient

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Local authorities said they did all they could to find an Alzheimer's patient who was missing three days before she was found dead Sunday in a wooded area off Clarkston Drive.

Deputies spent the holiday weekend searching the neighborhoods and woods near Belair and Wrightsboro roads after 85-year-old Elizabeth Bert walked away from the House of Life Personal Care Home in the 3500 block of Wrightsboro Road on Thursday. Sheriff's deputies from Richmond and Columbia counties, men on horseback, members of the Alzheimer's Association and a Georgia State Patrol helicopter helped to locate the body of Ms. Bert shortly before noon Sunday -- about 72 hours after she wandered away. Members of the victim's extended family also traveled to Augusta from Louisiana to aid in the search, according to Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Gay.

Ms. Bert's cause of death is still unknown, but authorities have said they don't expect foul play.

"It looks like she was exhausted and with her medical problems she just passed out," said sheriff's Sgt. Chew.

An autopsy performed at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Crime Lab in Augusta on Monday proved inconclusive, according to Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten. He said the results from a toxicology test are pending and might shed more light on how Ms. Bert, who also suffered from diabetes, died.

Sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles said Monday that authorities were still investigating the case and that no charges had been filed against the care home.

"The case is still under investigation, but before we did anything like that we would consult the district attorney," Lt. Peebles said.

The Georgia Division of Healthcare Facility Regulations is aiding the Sheriff's Office in an investigation of the personal care home, a state spokeswoman said Monday.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

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cajunnana2000
2
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cajunnana2000 07/07/09 - 03:07 am
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I cannot believe that a State

I cannot believe that a State Approved Nursing Home,does not have monitors on their doors. Be they human or those like I have in my home from a local security company that alerts me when a door is opened. How often does Staff check on the patients? Even if its every half hour, she should have been found. There is no excuse for this. May God bless her love ones. I hope they own this place when it's all over. This is a poor excuse for a Care Facility. Over at the Animal shelter they keep better control of dogs.

Just My Opinion
5878
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Just My Opinion 07/07/09 - 04:40 am
0
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When humans are involved you

When humans are involved you will ALWAYS have cases of human error. It's sad, but it's true. The only thing I'm glad about is that it sounds as if this lady died in her sleep, and that's a much more peaceful way to go. It is rather ironic that this lady wasn't so much as seen by anyone in the area, but over in Columbia County, that wandering bear couldn't even take a potty break without being spotted!

witness
0
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witness 07/07/09 - 07:38 am
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Cajunnana2000, a Personal

Cajunnana2000, a Personal Care Home is different than a Nursing Home. A personal care home is a step before a nursing home and you are right, there should be some type of mechanism to notify the staff should a door is open and especially when there is a person living in their facility with Ms. Bert's medical diangosis. May God bless her family and my her soul be at rest.

AAQueen
18
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AAQueen 07/07/09 - 08:06 am
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I hope she's at peace.

I hope she's at peace.

Franciscan
0
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Franciscan 07/07/09 - 09:49 am
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I agree that there should

I agree that there should have been some type of alarm system that whould have alerted the staff that a door was opened. Putting blame on the personal care home involved in this tragedy is not going to bring 85 year old Elizabeth Bert back. But the authorities should do everything in their power to make sure another tragedy like this does not happen again.

Bored in GA
2
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Bored in GA 07/07/09 - 10:00 am
0
0
Maybe some of the extended

Maybe some of the extended family should have provided her care in their home.. But oh I forgot that constitutes them changing their habits! God give them peace and Ms. Bert too!!

DEVGRU
0
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DEVGRU 07/07/09 - 10:24 am
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It doesn't say but I would

It doesn't say but I would expect that they used a tracking dog also. I hope they would. Bloodhounds are amazing at finding people.

Franciscan
0
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Franciscan 07/07/09 - 10:28 am
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This is for Bord in GA. Have

This is for Bord in GA. Have you ever taken care of or worked with any Alzheimer's patients? If you had, you would realize that they can wonder off at all hours of the day and night. Are you going to stay awake to make sure they do not wonder off? Are your family members going to take turns watching them 24 hours a day?

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
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BakersfieldCityLimits 07/07/09 - 10:31 am
0
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To those of you that denied

To those of you that denied that Lt. Gay was the one that led the search, and discovered that the sick lady had died, this should refute your claims. I, for one, am getting a little tired of your attacks on the police in general and Lt. Gay in particular.

cricketflea
3
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cricketflea 07/07/09 - 10:55 am
0
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Alzheimer patients will

Alzheimer patients will wonder off before you know it. They disappear like a two year old in a store. They should wear one of the ankle bracelet alarms like house arrest people do that are set to go off at the main or front desk at the personal care home. That way you know where your alzheimer patients are AT ALL TIMES!!! It's that important.....

Jillian
2
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Jillian 07/07/09 - 11:31 am
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This personal care home was

This personal care home was not equipped to provide care for someone with the medical needs, esp. supervision of this patient. I hope they are shut down perm. and made to pay,..however, the family has to bear some of the responsibility for signing her over to a place that had no provisions in place to monitor a person with such needs.

I agree with the poster about the bear- when it comes to the elderly it's easier to just not give a 88888.

Grinder
0
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Grinder 07/07/09 - 11:41 am
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Well of course "Local

Well of course "Local authorities said they did all they could" but I'll bet if she were white they'da found her! When are al sharpton and jesse jackson scheduled to arrive?

Son of God
0
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Son of God 07/07/09 - 11:42 am
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This young lady is now

This young lady is now wandering around in Heaven. She does not have to worry about anyone watching her, putting her in a home, or feeding her. She is safely in the arms of Jesus. When you all were looking and worrying for her, she was being taken up in the Heavens like Enoch. She left us with the bag of cares for these worldly posessions. She walked safely in the arms of Jesus. She challenges us to do the same instead of pointing fingers at and blaming each other. To die (if you die in Christ as she did) is GODLY GAIN. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Read Pomans 10:9, 10 , Psalm 51 ans repent. Amen

gemini1030
0
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gemini1030 07/07/09 - 01:00 pm
0
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For those who have no

For those who have no experience with a personal care home. The facility can not prevent the patients from leaving. The patients can come and go at will. There is staff on hand that monitors and reports. That is by design. They are more of an assisted living facility than a nursing home. They provide a safe place to stay and meals. The staff can not actually administer prescribed medications. They supervie the patient taking his/her own meds. Most of these facilities (5 in my neighborhood) are actually the homes of the owners that are opened up to the patients.

This is a tragic occurance and my thoughts and prayers go to the family.

truthsetmfree
94
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truthsetmfree 07/07/09 - 01:40 pm
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bakersfield, i am saddened

bakersfield, i am saddened that you live such a sheltered non-informed life.......Maybe you could call Lt. Gay on the phone and get him to help you understand things a little better..........your mind is a dangereous thing.....

calihali
0
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calihali 07/07/09 - 02:33 pm
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Grinder - my aunt was an

Grinder - my aunt was an Alzheimer's patient and she drowned through neglect in the lake in front of the nursing home where she lived. Guess what? She was white.

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 07/07/09 - 02:56 pm
0
0
BoredinGA, obviously you hae

BoredinGA, obviously you hae never cared for a family member with Azlheimer's it is a sad disease and it can truly take an emotional toll on a family, when we decided to put my grandfather in a home it was the hardest desision we have ever made and it was not made lightly but this illness is much more than just forgetfullness, they can also become enraged, throw things at you , try to hit you because they don't know who you are so I can see why she was in the home and until you are faced with it you should not pass judgement.

klsm
0
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klsm 07/07/09 - 03:56 pm
0
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Posted by

Posted by BakersfieldCityLimits on Tue Jul 7, 2009 10:31 AM ... are YOU on crack? Sgt. Ronnie Sylvester spent the entire time out there without going home. You do not have a clue what you are talking about!!! Speak what you know.

klsm
0
Points
klsm 07/07/09 - 04:04 pm
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To Randy and the rest of Mrs.

To Randy and the rest of Mrs. Bert's family ... I am so sorry for this outcome. I know that everyone was praying for the best. My husband spoke very highly of you and your entire family. May your "mother" rest in peace. Karen McDaniel, Missing Persons Inv. Shane McDaniel's wife.

ladyjanegrey
0
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ladyjanegrey 07/07/09 - 05:27 pm
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These patients almost always

These patients almost always go to the woods or water....they are heading for home...RIP Ms. Bert...................

whyme
2002
Points
whyme 07/07/09 - 06:13 pm
0
0
This is truly a sad

This is truly a sad situation. Apparently it is against the law to lock the doors of a personal care home or even make them take medications, but that may be why you would want your family member in a home to start with! Who knows what the policy was of the home to keep account of its residents. To the person who blames the family for not keeping the woman, yes there are some who are happy to dump Grandma in a home but more often than not, this is a difficult and heart-wrenching decision and you only hope that your loved one is cared for as you would have. Even the nursing homes where people with $$ go are still seriously deficient, like that should even matter.

corgimom
34079
Points
corgimom 07/07/09 - 07:26 pm
0
0
It is SAD that the sheriff's

It is SAD that the sheriff's department feels they have to justify what they did. Personal care homes are not locked facilities. Locked wards require a very low caregiver-to-patient ratio, making them very costly. Most families don't want to put their loved ones in a facility until a life-threatening crisis happens- and sometimes, the crisis ends in death. If you have an Alzheimer's patient, the odds are very high that they will wander. Many families are in denial and think that because their family members can still walk and get around that they don't need to be in a facility. Unless they are in a locked ward, the possibility of wandering and subsequent death is there 24 hours a day. Personal care homes, like assisted living facilities, provide help but patients have freedom-including freedom not to take medication. The only way a facility can MAKE someone take meds is with a court order- and that applies to nursing homes, too.

leoswife
0
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leoswife 07/08/09 - 02:55 pm
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Grinder....are you kidding

Grinder....are you kidding me? Race has nothing to do with it! The Deputies do their job and help people no matter what color their skin is..... That's just an ignorant statement.

The family was doing what they felt was right for their loved one. Care for an Alzheimer's patient is costly and can go on for years, making it hard on the family. They did what they could. The fault lies with the care facility for not having enough people to watch their tenants. They should be fined if anything... If I had a parent there I would be moving them out immediately!

May Mrs. Bert be free from her mental prison and walk in heaven with the Lord!

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