A woman at a Minnesota nursing home died from severe burns after she fell into a tub of boiling laundry water in December, authorities and state health officials said.
Allene Hookom, an Auburn Manor resident who had Alzheimer’s disease, suffered second-degree burns to her back, waist, buttocks and legs after she fell in a few inches of 155-degree water on Dec. 31, according to police records released Wednesday and cited by the Star Tribune.
The medical examiner’s office ruled the 90-year-old grandmother had died from “thermal (scald) injuries.”
State health department officials found that the Auburn Manor staff was negligent when it left the laundry door’s lock unattended and was “held open using a magnetic latch on the wall behind the door,” the Tribune reported.
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The state said the nursing home, which is run by Auburn Homes and Services, had no formal policy of locking laundry doors.
Auburn Homes CEO and President Mike Senden called the resident’s death “a really heartbreaking accident (that) affected our staff greatly and the family greatly,” according to the newspaper.
Senden added that the facility will continue to improve the laundry room’s supervision and safety.
Investigators say Hookom wandered near the laundry room three times before the fatal accident. Each time, the housekeeping manager would send her away.
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Eventually, Hookom — who relied on a wheelchair to navigate — managed to open the laundry room door where a nursing assistant found her on her back desperately calling for help from the catch basin.
Hookom’s injuries were so severe that her skin turned bright red and was peeling. She was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center where she died the next day.
A week before her death, the nursing home reassured a family member that the facility was safe enough for Hookom to continue living there, according to the state’s report.
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