Local News

Wake Forest Nursing Home Could Be Fined For Patient's Death

Posted June 22, 2006

— A Wake Forest assisted-living center has been ordered to improve its security after an elderly patient was found dead in some nearby woods.

Mickos Ankhelyi, 67, who suffered from dementia, wandered away from the Wake Forest Care Center last month and was later found dead about 500 feet away from the facility.

The center is updating its alarm system and will begin conducting weekly drills. It has also decided to stop accepting any more patients who are likely to wander.

"We believe we did everything in our power (to keep patients safe)," said the center's director, Cherry Grady. "It was just an unfortunate event."

Grady said the center is not a locked facility and that if a patient were determined to leave, he or she would find a way out.

"Mickey just wanted to get out," Grady said. "That's what went wrong."

But neighbors who live behind the facility said it was not an isolated incident.

"We've seen residents before come through the back yard, and usually, staff members come out and find them," said Adrian Young, who was on the front porch of her house when she saw Ankhelyi waking away from the center.

"My daughter and I were standing here, and we just happened to see a man coming through our back yard," she said. "I told my daughter to go over to the nursing home to tell them that one of their patients got out."

The state will ultimately decide the penalty, which could be up to $10,000, for the center. The county was expected to make its recommendation to the state on Thursday, but the center asked for more time.

There are more than 17,000 nursing homes in the United States with about 1.6 million patients. Research by Consumers Union shows North Carolina ranks 12th in the nation with nursing homes cited for putting patients in immediate jeopardy -- 8 percent.

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