CARY, N.C. — An elderly Alzheimer's patient wandered away from an assisted living facility over the weekend unnoticed. Although he is safe and sound, there are more questions than answers about who is responsible.
On Saturday night, officials said the wheelchair-bound 89-year-old patient ventured outside of the Alterra adult-care facility in Cary and was sitting alongside the road. According to a police report, the patient's name was Joseph Seidenberg.
Tara Cobb and Corinne Hill were driving on Chapel Hill Road outside of the adult-care facility when they noticed Seidenberg outside on the side of the road. They said his wheelchair was struck, trying to get back up on the curb of the road.
"I think the only reason we stopped was because we questioned, 'what was that," Cobb said. "Why would someone be out in the middle of the road that old in a wheelchair in the freezing cold. It was 22 degrees outside."
The women pushed him back to the facility where facility staff members said Seidenberg was a resident.
Alterra officials released a statement saying, "we are very glad that our resident was found nearby without any injury and would like to thank the motorist who took the time to return the resident. As the law requires us to uphold our residents' rights of privacy and confidentiality, it would be inappropriate to provide further comment."
"They did not think he had been gone for very long, but he was pretty cold," Hill said.
Alterra officials said people need an security code to enter or exit the facility.
Officials with Wake County Human Services said they are aware of the incident and they are conducting an investigation. According to a Wake Human Service representative, the agency has not determined whether to file a report with the state, which could impose penalties.
WRAL has learned that in the eight to 10 years that the facility has been at its current location, there were reports in the past that residents had wandered into parking lots and there were concerns about patient care. County officials told WRAL that patient care has improved considerably recently.
Wake County Social Services is also investigating the
death of an Alzheimer's patient
who walked away from a rest home in Wendell.
Police say 85-year-old Willard Raper wandered out of the Oliver House in early January. He walked into traffic on Wendell Boulevard and was hit and killed by an SUV. The Oliver House has a clean record of care in recent years, but, under past owners, the facility has had several problems.