By Jordan Missal
Kendal at Lexington is conducting an internal investigation after one of its patients went missing for several hours in the middle of the night on Jan. 27.
About 2 a.m., the patient, whom Kendal identified only as Harold, left Borden Health Center through adoor in the sunroom, a Kendal official said. Harold had been undergoing rehabilitation at the center.
After about a four-hour search, Kendal staff found him in an unoccupied cottage on the Kendal property, 62 Sycamore Lane. The cottage was only about 50 yards from the door Harold left the health center from.
Charlotte Sibold, heath services administrator at Kendal, said the workers who found Harold described his condition as “safe and warm.”
Sibold said the facility uses a computerized bracelet called WanderGuard for patients who staff think might try to leave. Harold was wearing one of the bracelets, Sibold said, which helped identify him immediately as the patient who was missing.
The door that Harold opened is equipped with an alarm, and nurses on duty ran toward the door shortly after it sounded, Sibold said, but Harold was already out of sight. Kendal staff alerted local authorities about 15 minutes after the alarm went off. They responded within 20 minutes, Sibold said.
The county sheriff’s office, Lexington police and fire and rescue workers, volunteer firefighters from Kerrs Creek and Effinger, VMI post police, search dogs from the state Department of Emergency Management and a state police helicopter all helped Kendal staff in the search.
Staff feared that Harold would suffer hypothermia in the early morning hours if he remained outside.
Lexington Fire & Rescue Chief Ty Dickerson said his people “drove … around Kendall going up and down looking for any signs of Harold.”
Since the incident, Sibold said, Kendal staff have been meeting among themselves to go over prevention measures.
“After we finish the debrief, we anticipate meeting next week with the authorities to finalize the best approach going forward,” she said.
Sibold said Kendal’s 24-hour staffing and the WanderGuard bracelet technology in the rehabilitation center helped shorten the search.
While Sibold would not provide specific identifying information about Harold, most people involved in his case speculate that he “wanted to get back to his home and farm that he loves so much,” she said.
The Borden Health Center is the main rehabilitation center on the Kendal property, which also includes numerous individual homes.
Sibold said Harold’s family sent a letter to the Kendal staff commending their effort and support during the search.