** This article has been updated to reflect that Joan Meredith was a resident of The Merriman’s assisted living facility. She was initially reported by Summit County officials as a resident of its nursing home.
AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — An 82-year-old woman reported missing from her assisted living facility on Tuesday, Nov. 8, was found dead in a wooded area behind the facility.
Joan L. Meredith, 82, was a resident at The Merriman, an assisted living and skilled nursing care facility at 209 Merriman Road in Akron.
She had a history of dementia, according to information from the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office. She was last seen by residents at the facility on Sunday, Nov. 6, two days before she was found.
” … Staff presumed she had taken a leave of absence from the facility with family,” said Medical Examiner Gary Guenther in a Thursday email to FOX 8.
Workers called Meredith’s family to ask when she would be returning, but family members said they did not pick her up. Merriman workers then began searching the grounds around the facility and found Meredith in a wooded area behind the facility.
Meredith died of hypothermia, and the manner of her death was accidental, Guenther ruled.
A representative of The Merriman issued a statement Friday:
In general, the residents of the assisted living have less clinical needs than the residents of the skilled nursing facility, and are on a whole more physically able, tending to move more freely both within and outside of the assisted living building.
During the week beginning on Sunday, November 6, 2022, one of the residents of the assisted living section of The Merriman exited the building and was subsequently found deceased. The Merriman is devasted [sic] as a result of this unfortunate tragedy, and is continuing to investigate the incident in order to determine what happened.
Beyond the above, we cannot share any further detail at this time out of respect for the privacy of our resident and her family, and we ask that all media sources that report on this unfortunate incident in the future respect their privacy as well.
The Merriman’s 60-bed, for-profit skilled nursing facility has a two-star “below average” rating, out of a potential five stars, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Its staffing levels received the lowest one-star ranking, or “much below average.”
In the past three years, the facility has been cited six times during routine health inspections — which is below the state and national averages, however — and three times in infection control inspections. It’s been fined twice in the last three years by the federal government: a $20,000 fine in January 2022 and a $13,000 fine in March 2021.
Assisted living facilities are not subject to the same Centers ratings system, according to a Merriman representative.