The family of a Northwest Arkansas woman who suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s and died after walking out of an assisted-living home the same day she was admitted is suing the facility.
Attorneys for the family of Barbara Doyle, 74, of Bella Vista sued the Brookfield Assisted Living and Memory Care Center today in Benton County Circuit Court.
The family had intended for Doyle to stay at Brookfield just three days while her husband of 52 years, Jack Doyle, attended two of their granddaughters’ first communions in Ohio, attorneys said in a statement.
Instead, Barbara Doyle’s body was not found for 13 days, “in a ditch in a wooded area less than one half mile away from the facility, naked, decayed, and deceased. The medical examiner’s report listed her death as a result of environmental heat stress,” attorneys Sean Keith of Rogers and Tom Wagstaff Jr. of Overland Park, Kansas, said.
Doyle suffered short-term memory loss and disorientation and “was in constant need of reminders and cues,” the attorneys said. Even though she was “a known wandering risk,” Brookfield had chosen to admit her into its assisted-living unit at 11:45 a.m. Aug. 12, 2021.
Within three hours, Doyle was left unattended and she walked out of the facility by opening an exit door, triggering an alarm. A Brookfield employee saw Barbara leave but did not try to stop her, the attorneys said. Instead the worker turned the alarm off, locked the door and did not notify staff of a problem, they added.
A subsequent investigation by the Arkansas Department of Human Services found the facility was out of compliance with state standards in 21 ways.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages.