Elmcroft Senior Living in Lebanon must pay $2,000 for failing to provide daily awareness for the whereabouts of two residents who briefly escaped from the secure memory unit on March 2.
The couple, a husband and wife team who remain unnamed in public records, suffers from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but they had their wits about them as the husband used his military training with Morse code to figure out the facility's electric lock code, the Tennessean reported.
The husband would listen as staff punched the code in, and he was able to figure out the pattern. He made a break for it with his wife, managing just 30 minutes of freedom before a stranger found the couple wandering two blocks from the facility.
Staff were meant to increase their check-ins with the husband starting in February after he displayed concerning habits, such as wandering about and repeatedly seeking exits, FOX 23 reported.
He had scheduled times to walk outdoors to mitigate these habits, but it did little to deter his urge to escape.
"The safety of our residents is the top priority at our senior living community. We are thankful both residents were returned to the community safely," read a statement from Elmcroft. "We reported the situation to the state and their family immediately after it happened and fully cooperated with the state during its review."
The facility changed all of its exit codes following the incident.