Resident spends night unnoticed outside sr. home

Despite overnight lows of 28 degrees, woman survives night with only bruises

Posted: Tuesday, April 08, 2003

A woman who lives at the Juneau Pioneers' Home spent Saturday night on the ground outside the building after falling Saturday morning, said Dwight Becker of the Alaska Division of Senior Services.

"We think it happened at about 10:30 in the morning on Saturday," said Becker, the agency's program coordinator for assisted living licensing. "She apparently fell and ended up being found the next day, Sunday, we're not sure what time yet. It appears she had spent all day Saturday until the next day out in the yard, and that can be pretty serious."

The woman is "OK and safe," Becker said, expressing his understanding that she suffered only bruises. The temperature dropped to 28 degrees that night, according to the National Weather Service.

The Juneau Pioneers' Home is one of six assisted-living and nursing homes in the state run by the Division of Alaska Longevity Programs.

Rosemary Gute-Gruening, administrator of the Pioneers' Home, would not release any information about the incident, citing a confidentiality request made by the resident's family.

"We're very, very conscious of the family's rights and the resident's rights in all of these matters," Gute-Gruening said.

The state Division of Senior Services, which licenses the Pioneers' Homes, is investigating the incident and will determine consequences for the home, if any.

"It's possible they weren't in the wrong at all," Becker said.

If the home was in violation of safety regulations, there are a number of options for the division.

"There's different sanctions we could impose," he said. "The normal procedure would be to issue a notice of violation, then we would decide where to go from there."

If a problem is found, corrective measures could include a change in the home's resident-tracking procedures, or establishing a patrol of the yards in the evening or during the day, Becker said.

Though Gute-Gruening would not comment on this specific incident, she did say the home keeps close track of its residents.

"We have a sign-out situation and everybody that leaves or leaves with someone signs out and signs back in," she said.

Ron Cowan, the long-term care ombudsman for the state, had not heard of the incident as of Monday morning, but he said his office should receive notice soon.

"If it involves an assisted-living home and the resident is over 60, we are to be notified by the Division of Senior Services," Cowan said.

An investigation by the ombudsman would determine whether the home was negligent in its care-providing duties, Cowan said. If the home was negligent, Cowan would produce a report of the investigation and distribute the report to the complainant, the resident, the home and the licensing agency.

Christine Schmid can be reached at

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