North Texas

Family Demands Answers After Woman with Alzheimer's Walks Away From Hospital, Is Injured

A North Texas family has been trying to find out for weeks how a woman with Alzheimer's disease could manage to walk out of the hospital where she is being treated, only to be found injured and wandering the streets nearly two miles away.

Yolanda Dillard and her son stood at the kitchen counter with the stack of hospital documents provided to them by Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas.

Dillard's finger moved from line to line, attempting to find details that she says have been hard to come by.

She still has no clear picture as to how her mother, Mary Ellen Holmes, ended up bruised and wandering outside of the hospital.

"We've been noticing that my mom has been getting worse with her Alzheimer's," Dillard said.

In order to place the 74-year-old woman in a specialized nursing facility, Holmes needed to first be evaluated at a hospital for 72 hours, Dillard said.

They were told to go to Methodist Charlton Medical Center.

Dillard said she was with her mother when she checked into the medical center at around noon on Oct. 13.

"It was supposed to be just a simple routine — them monitoring her for three days, seeing how she handled herself — but she didn't even make it eight hours," Dillard said.

She said her mother had been waiting to be placed in a room at the hospital at around 3:30 p.m.

Dillard left her mother in the care of the nursing staff, she said.

Dillard says she then received a call from the hospital at around 8:15 p.m.

"I was like, 'They can't find, you can't find my mom?'" she said. "[The caller] was like, 'Well, we don't, we've had a shift change and she's not here. Did you come get her?' I was like, 'No, I didn't come get her!'"

Holmes was still dressed in plain clothes and not a hospital gown because the room she was in was rather cold.

Dillard claims her mother managed to simply walk out of the hospital, sometime after 7 p.m.

She says she's received indications that Holmes may have asked a staff member about how to leave and was told what door she could take.

Approximately an hour passed before EMS brought Holmes back to the hospital.

"Her knees were skinned, her lip was busted, her chin, I mean purple, black and blue," Dillard said. "Everybody kept coming in saying, 'We're so sorry. Oh, we want to apologize.'"

It wasn't until later, she says, that she learned the elderly woman was found almost two miles away from the hospital. A passerby reported a woman wandering in the middle of the street along East Danieldale Road and Wood Creek Drive in Duncanville.

"I was really sad. I was sad and mad," said Dillard, describing the moment she saw her mother injured and back at the hospital.

Dillard believes her mother fell somewhere along the fields and residential areas near the hospital.

"My mom is so pleasant, y'all, she was still smiling," Dillard remembers. "And that's the disease. I'm like, 'Momma, where you been?'" She said, 'I ain't been nowhere, Yolanda! I've been right here!' She had no idea what she had done."

NBC 5 reached out to Methodist Health System representatives for details as to what happened to Holmes.

Representatives initially declined to provide details due to patient privacy, unless the patient agrees to release such sensitive information.

Dillard allowed for information to be released to NBC 5.

However, the only information Methodist Health System released was a statement reading:

"We can confirm the patient was treated at our hospital on October 13, and we are investigation the claims by her family."

Now, her daughter is searching for answers and accountability.

"It could have been anybody's family," Dillard said. "How could y'all let my mom get out? How could y'all be so careless to not pay attention to these patients? Something major could've happened to my mom. She could've gotten ran over. She could've fell in a ditch, and nobody would've found her for days. Anything could've happened, and a lot of times they say, that's 'if.' No, it could've been a fact."

Dillard is grateful for the motorist who reported her mother to police.

Holmes spent an additional three days at the hospital without incident before being transferred to her new nursing facility.

Dillard says her mother is in high spirits.

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