Weekend search raises questions over security at Vt. assisted-living facilities

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 2:07 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It was a happy ending on Monday in the search for an elderly woman who went missing for 16 hours after walking out of a Brandon assisted living facility without being seen by staff. But the incident raises questions about security at similar facilities.

Ellie Cartier went missing around 8:30 a.m. Sunday from Wintergreen North Residential Home Care. The 83-year-old has Alzheimer’s and is nonverbal. She was known for taking walks but had never left the facility before. After a massive search in 90-degree conditions, she was eventually found safe at about 12:30 a.m. Monday in the nearby woods.

The state is still investigating the incident but says Wintergreen followed protocol and notified police, family, and regulators in a timely fashion.

Monica White, the new Commissioner of the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, says the state has information available to consumers who are looking for the right facility. “We also have a tool available that is a facility evaluation checklist, and I would encourage you to meet with multiple facilities and speak with the administrators and determine whether their facility offers, services that feel, feel comfortable for your loved one,” White said.

The state also posts its assisted living investigations online.

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