OSSIPEE – The daughters of a dementia patient who walked away from Tamworth Community Living last fall and has never been found, have filed a lawsuit claiming the supported care facility was negligent.
Dwain “Dewey” Poulin, 84, had previously escaped from the assisted living facility at 22 May’s Way in West Ossipee, but was found by local first responders following a more than five-hour search and safely returned.
Cheryl Poulin of Saco, Maine, and Kim Cullins of Tamworth, claim in their complaint that administrator Jacqueline Leavitt-Grace assured them the facility was capable of keeping their father safe and that a higher level of care was not necessary.
After Poulin went missing the first time, the state Bureau of Licensing & Certification investigated and concluded that Tamworth Community Living had failed to provide the personal supervision Poulin needed to offset his cognitive decline and assure his safety, according to the lawsuit.
Following Poulin’s May 9, 2018, disappearance from the facility, his daughters purchased a keychain sized GPS tracker that could be clipped to their fathers’ clothes and be digitally connected to a caretaker’s smart phone application and provided it to Tamworth Community Living, the lawsuit states.
Attorney Benjamin Gideon of Berman & Simmons P.A., of Lewiston, Maine, who represents the plaintiffs, asserts in the complaint that the defendant returned the tracker maintaining it had not met expectations, but did not suggest an alternative device.
Over the course of his residency at Tamworth Community Living, Poulin’s dementia continued to worsen. During a July 2018 medical appointment, his primary care provider noted in Poulin’s chart that he supported the use of a daily GPS device to allow authorities to track Poulin in case he did walk away from his caregivers as he had in the past.
In addition to negligence, the suit also makes claims for breach of contract, alleging the facility failed to provide Poulin with adequate services. The complaint further makes claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress, maintaining that his daughters have suffered mental anguish arising from the disappearance of their father and the lack of closure inherent in it.
Poulin’s Sept. 10, 2018, elopement, the suit says, “was an event that is not defined merely by the instant he disappeared, but rather the harrowing search for him, his ongoing absence, and the continued lack of closure regarding his whereabouts or status.”
The complaint additionally makes a claim for violation of the consumer protection act, alleging that Tamworth Community Living misrepresented the characteristics and quality of the services that they would provide.
Leavitt-Grace declined to comment on the allegations. According to the company’s website, the facility has 15 beds with onsite licensed nursing assistants, “ensuring every resident is properly cared for.”
Poulin was last seen on Sept. 10, 2018, wearing a blue plaid shirt, blue jeans, black sneakers, and a baseball cap that reads “NH State Bird” with a picture of a mosquito. Police initially suspected he might have gotten a ride by hitchhiking trying to get to his childhood home in Wilton, Maine. Police suspended the active search for Poulin three days after he was reported missing.