ALLENTOWN, Pa. — State regulators have yanked the license of a nursing home for “gross incompetence” followed the death of a 77-year-old Alzheimer’s patient who wandered away from the home.

Audrey Penn’s body was found in a roadside ditch in Lower Macungie Township, near Allentown, nearly a month after she was reported missing from Woodland Terrace at the Oaks nursing home.

The Department of Human Services revoked the home’s license on Friday, LehighValleyLive.com reported. Woodland Terrace said it will appeal.

The agency said that on the morning of Penn’s Aug. 23 disappearance, a staffer noticed she wasn’t in her room but violated policy by waiting 90 minutes to alert a supervisor and start a search.

Penn, identified as “Resident 1,” had a history of trying to leave the home’s secure dementia unit. Earlier this year, the report said, she used a keypad to unlock a door and went to a staff break area. At other times, she was seen pushing on doors in the dementia unit and pressing buttons on the keypad.

The agency said Woodland Terrace failed to “adequately address the resident’s exit-seeking behaviors,” calling her a “victim of neglect.”

The staffer who delayed reporting Penn’s disappearance has been fired. The home has started taking corrective measures, including hourly resident checks and drills that simulate a resident wandering away, according to the report.

Woodland Terrace said in a statement to WFMZ-TV that it will “continue to work with the state during the appeal process so that it can maintain its health care license and provide services for its residents.”


Information from: The (Easton, Pa.) Express-Times, http://www.lehighvalleylive.com