A 94 year-old resident of Palomar Heights Care Center in Escondido died early Thanksgiving morning after wandering out of the facility and being struck by a car. To compound matters the resident, Maria Cobian, was wearing a bracelet intended to alert staff if she attempted to leave the facility. According to Escondido Police, the only door the bracelet doesn’t trigger an alarm. “Either she went out a door and set off an alarm that wasn’t heard or she went out the front,” said Escondido Police Officer Mike Garcia. Repoertedly, staff told Ms. Cobian’s grandson that they were distracted with another resident at the time. This is not the first time Palomar Heights has been hit with allegations of elder abuse or neglect.
According to an article by the San Diego Union-Tribune, this is not the first time Palomar Heights has been the subject of scrutiny. Last year the facility was hit with a $100,000 fine from the California Department of Health Services after a 66 year-old patient died after being left alone while smoking a cigarrette while connected to an oxygen machine. That resident burned for for six minutes and eventually succumbed to his injuries. In addition, while under previous ownership, the facility was hit by a sting operation by the State Attorney General resulting in the arrests of 12 staff members for elder abuse.
This appears to be yet another sad case in which a nursing home is short-staffed and it is the residents who pay. There should have been enough staff in the facility to take care of the other resident and still have someone watching the front door or listening for alarms.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Nursing Home and Elder Abuse.