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Assisted living home sued year after patient disappeared

By HOLLY RAMERSeptember 14, 2019
In this June 11, 2016, photo provided by Joe Cullins, in Tamworth, N.H,. Kim Cullins, left, and Cheryl Poulin, right, stand behind their father, Dwain Poulin, who has not been seen since he wandered away from an assisted living facility in West Ossipee, N.H. on Sept. 10, 2018. The sisters have filed a lawsuit accusing Tamworth Community of Living, Inc., of negligence. (Joe Cullins via AP)
In this June 11, 2016, photo provided by Joe Cullins, in Tamworth, N.H,. Kim Cullins, left, and Cheryl Poulin, right, stand behind their father, Dwain Poulin, who has not been seen since he wandered away from an assisted living facility in West Ossipee, N.H. on Sept. 10, 2018. The sisters have filed a lawsuit accusing Tamworth Community of Living, Inc., of negligence. (Joe Cullins via AP)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A year after an 84-year-old man wandered away, never to be seen again, from an assisted living facility in New Hampshire, his two daughters have sued.

Kim Cullins, of Tamworth, and Cheryl Poulin, of Saco, Maine, filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing Tamworth Community Living Inc. of negligence and breach of contract. They said the West Ossipee business failed to adequately supervise their father, Dwain “Dewey” Poulin, who hasn’t been seen since Sept. 10, 2018.

“For Dewey’s daughters, every one of those 365 days has been a living nightmare filled with tormenting images of what may have happened to their dad and where he might be,” attorney Dov Sacks, who is representing the family, said in a written statement to The Associated Press. “This lack of closure is something no family should ever have to endure. We intend to expose Tamworth Community Living’s conduct to the light of day and to hold the facility fully accountable.”

Poulin was 84 when he was last seen wearing jeans, sneakers, a blue plaid shirt and a baseball cap with a picture of a mosquito and the words “NH State Bird.” He had moved into the assisted living home in 2014 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and according to the lawsuit, was allowed to continue taking unattended walks despite his worsening condition.

His daughters said facility officials declined to use the clip-on tracking device they bought after he wandered off in May 2018 and was brought back by firefighters five hours later, and ignored advice from Poulin’s doctor, who said in July 2018 that a GPS tracker was “required for safety.”

In late August, administrator Jacqueline Leavitt-Grace assured the sisters that their father didn’t require a higher level of care and that the facility would keep him safe, the lawsuit states. The sisters said they gave Leavitt-Grace information about a different tracking device that could fit in their father’s shoes, but the home failed to obtain one.

Leavitt-Grace declined to comment on the allegations Friday. According to the company’s website, the facility has 15 beds with onsite licensed nursing assistants “ensuring every resident is properly cared for.”

Sacks, the family’s attorney, said he believes the facility placed profits over the safety of its residents, and falsely promised it was capable of protecting residents with advancing dementia.

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