A missing elderly man turned out to be a patient at Salem Hospital, now his friends want to know why the hospital didn't tell police who were searching for him.
The search started Monday, when neighbors reported that 81-year-old Thomas Dill hadn't been seen in several days. Employees at Josey's Restaurant said Dill would come in for coffee every day, and they became worried when he didn't show up lastFriday.
"I'm wondering if he's still alive honestly," said Adam McCormick, who works at the restaurant. "He's in his older years."
Police were concerned because Dill had a medical condition so detectives called local hospitals looking for him, with no results.
Then, onWednesday police said they learned Dill had been a patient at Salem Hospital.
"If you call a hospital and you're looking for someone who may be missing they should be able to tell you if that person's actually there or not," said McCormick, who wants to know why Salem Hospital didn't tell police Dill was a patient.
Strict privacy laws prevent hospitals from releasing sensitive patient information, but even the hospital admits that shouldn't have stopped staff from telling police Dill was there.
According to hospital policy, if police call looking for a missing person who is a patient, staff can release that information. Also, the hospital says it would call police if staff members learn a missing person is in their care.
A hospital spokesperson wouldn't comment on Dill's case other than saying, "Patient privacy and safety are our number one concern. We want to do the right thing legally for our patients. It's important that we look at this and see what happened in this case."
It remains unclear why Dill was hospitalized and when. He has since been transferred to an adult care facility.
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