Caregiver says assisted living center’s lack of training led to resident’s death in the cold

Employee says door propped open, alarm disarmed

A caregiver at Faith Garden Memory Care assisted living center said a lack of training and failure to follow proper protocol led to a woman’s death .

Chelsi Pulvermacher is one of two employees at the center who found the body of 84-year-old Alice L. McGaw outside the facility on Dec. 29. Pulvermacher said she spotted the body lying in the snow outside the building.

Officials at the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office said hypothermia was likely a contributor to McGaw’s death .

Pulvermacher believes McGaw was able to leave the building because the doors were unlocked. She said all employees are required to have mandatory training to care for the facility’s residents, but she suspects not all of them have completed that training.

“They should’ve had proper training. They had mandatory meetings but only (the) a.m. shift showed up, because it (training) was always on a.m. shift,” Pulvermacher explained. “They should’ve had proper training for everyone who needs to know this kind of stuff.”

News 3 reached out to Faith Gardens several times but has not heard back.

This is not the first time the facility has lost track of a resident, according to Pulvermacher. Since she started working at the facility last April, she said there was one other incident of a resident leaving without the staff knowing. It was last summer, but that person quickly returned. News 3 has not found public records confirming this incident.

Records obtained by News 3 show the facility was cited in December for eight violations two weeks before McGaw’s death.

Pulvermacher said shortly after she arrived to work on Dec. 29, she realized McGaw was missing. She and other employees looked for the woman for over 20 minutes before her body was found outside. Pulvermacher suspects McGaw left the facility sometime before the start of her shift, when the night crew was responsible for checking in on the residents.

“The front door is supposed to be locked and it has an alarm on it, but it wasn’t on that day. The door was propped open,” she said.

That same day she worked a double shift at the facility. Sunday, she was told by a manager to not come into work on Monday or Tuesday due to an ongoing investigation into McGaw’s death . Since then, the mother of four says she has not been allowed to come back to work.

According to Pulvermacher, each time she calls her managers, they tell her she is not allowed to come back to work and fail to offer any additional details as to why. She says they have repeatedly hung up on her.

Pulvermacher said she was informed that a caregiver on the night shift was immediately fired. However, she claims she is the only employee out of the four people who were working at the time the body was found who has not returned to work.

“I didn’t quit. I never got fired. They’re not giving me any answers or nothing. Besides hanging up on me and I don’t feel like that is proper management. I would like to know what is happening with my job. I feel like I’m getting singled out for some sort of reason they can’t explain why,” she said.

Pulvermacher said the status of her job is not her only concern. After working as a caregiver for more than a decade at different facilities, she said it is important that she expresses her condolences to McGaw’s family.

“Usually I’m there and I can speak to them (resident’s families) and say I’m sorry for your loss. This incident is beating me up because I cannot say I’m sorry to that family. Their family touched me. Because I took care of them, they are part of my family, too,” Pulvermacher said.

Caregiver says assisted living center’s lack of training led to resident’s death in the cold