Leverne Reed was unaccounted for and possibly dead for nine days before his body was found April 18 in a North Charleston marsh, yet was never reported missing. No one was out searching for the 63-year-old mentally ill man because the operators of the assisted-living home where he was a resident thought he was in the hospital.
Reed, whose exact diagnosis is unknown, had been taken by Charleston County EMS to Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in West Ashley on April 9 after suffering seizures, according to a North Charleston police incident report. When he didn’t return that day, the operator of the Cabading Home on Dorchester Road assumed he’d been kept overnight at the hospital.
Administrator Allan Cabading said it is normal procedure for officials to contact the group home to say one of their residents had been discharged.
“If we don’t hear from them in a couple of days, we assume that he’s in the hospital,” Cabading said Friday.
But Reed never was admitted to the hospital. Instead, he was discharged the same day, hospital spokesman Andy Lyons said Friday.
Because he had come in alone and had no family with him, the hospital paid for a taxi to take him home, Lyons said.
Staff saw no reason to be concerned about putting him in a cab, Lyons said, and there was no reason to contact the Cabading home because Reed didn’t require special medical instructions or follow-up.
The hospital doesn’t have a set policy when it comes to sending patients home by cab, Lyons said. Generally speaking, though, a taxi is an option when someone is alert, in good condition, they understand their discharge instructions and they’re leaving of their free will, he said.
“It’s something we want to do for the patient,” Lyons said, adding that the hospital covers the bill for the ride.
After Reed was discharged, the cab driver let him out near Rivers Avenue and Dorchester Road, the corner near the group home, Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said at a press conference on Thursday.
It was the last time anyone so far has reported seeing him alive, police said. His body was found more than a mile from the group home.
A representative for Charleston Cab Co., whose driver took Reed home from the hospital, declined to comment Friday.
Reed’s body was identified by the Charleston County Coroner’s Office, which is still appealing for help in locating family members.
Other residents of the Cabading Homes, 2149 Dorchester Road, said Reed had been living there for at least several months and possibly years. One man said Friday that Reed slept most of the time, rarely venturing out of doors.
“He’d talk once in a while, but not for long,” said Herbert Grant. “Most of the time he lay in bed all day and all night long.”
A staff member at the assisted living facility told police she gave EMS a medical release form that included instructions to notify the facility when Reed was released, according to the incident report.
The hospital staff did not get any such instructions, Lyons said.
The coroner has not said how Reed died or when.
Cabading said they didn’t know there was a problem until the coroner’s office contacted them looking for records.
Two representatives of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging visited the assisted living home Friday for a preliminary assessment, a spokesman said.
The only recent complaints about the assisted living home Reed lived in were about bed bugs, the Department of Health and Environmental Control spokeswoman Cassandra Harris said in an email Friday. DHEC conducted a complaint investigation and received an acceptable plan of correction from that facility, her email stated.
DHEC has no record of any accident or incident reports involving the home in the past year .
State authorities temporarily suspended licences for two other Cabading facilities in North Charleston in November 2011, DHEC records show. In both cases, the facilities failed to conduct TB exams on residents and failed to properly maintain records, among other violations, according to the records.
Licenses for both facilities have since been restored, records show.
Reed’s body was found April 18 in a marsh next to a dead-end street in the Chicora community more than a mile away from where he’d been let out by the taxi, just behind the Military Magnet School.
Officials have not been able to find any of Reed’s family members to inform them of his death. Anyone with information is asked to call the coroner’s office at 746-4030.
Christina Elmore contributed to this report. Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553. Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.