Assisted living facility fined after residents used Morse code to unlock keypad, escape

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Posted at 1:05 PM, Apr 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 14:14:16-04

LEBANON, Tenn. (WTVF)  — An assisted living facility in Lebanon was fined after two residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease used Morse code to unlock a keypad and leave, according to documents from the Tennessee Department of Heath.

Documents revealed that the incident happened in March 2020 at the Elmcroft of Lebanon, an assisted care facility.

According to documents, both residents left the memory care unit and were spotted 30 minutes later a couple of blocks down the road. A stranger picked them up and returned them to the facility.

When asked how they got out, one of them said he previously used Morse code in the military and was able to decode the keypad just by listening to staff members punch in the numbers.

The Tennessee Board For Licensing Health Care Facilities said the facility “failed to provide daily awareness” and “safety” for the couple. In an order signed on April 7, the board fined the facility $2,000.

In addition to the fine, the facility has changed all the codes on exit doors in the memory care area.

This story was first reported Friday by The Tennessean.