Husband copes after wife froze to death at Wash. facility

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by KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on December 24, 2013 at 9:23 PM

LONGVIEW, Wash. --The husband of a woman who froze to death at an Alzheimer's care facility in Longview earlier this month has hired an attorney.  Don Sheldon told KGW he wants to make sure what happened to his wife at Canterbury Garden Alzheimer’s Care home does not happen to anyone else.

Norma Jeannette Sheldon, 88, walked unnoticed into an outdoor courtyard at Canterbury Gardens in the middle of the night on Dec. 5.  She could not get back into the building and died.  

Don Sheldon said this will be the first Christmas he's spent without his wife in 68 years. He's devastated by her death.

Staff members found Norma some time after she wandered into the courtyard, but they could not revive her. An autopsy found the cause of death was hypothermia and the coroner's office determined it was an accident, said Sgt. Reeves of the Longview Police Dept.

State investigators blamed poor security practices and Don was also told that a staff member made a mistake.  Norma was in the facility because she suffered from dementia and should not have been left unattended.

"The aide who was supposed to be doing that [evening patient] check was desanitizing wheelchairs and walkers at the time and lost track of time," Sheldon said. "He missed that midnight check while she was out there freezing to death."

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has revoked the license of the Canterbury Garden, but the facility remains open while the decision is on appeal.

Canterbury Gardens can not take on any new patients until the appeal is resolved.

Officials with the company that runs Canterbury, Koelsch Senior Communities, would not talk on camera, but shared this statement with KGW Tuesday:

"We are completely aware of the department of social and health service's concerns and we are already in the process of taking every measure necessary to satisfy each issue."

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