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Homicide is catastrophic. When it happens to someone you love, it hurts even more. One of our patients, Mrs. B, a delightful 94-year-old blind female living in a community high-rise building was recently murdered. She was found in the morning by one of our home care aides. Our agency had been providing personal care for Mrs. B every morning between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. for several years.


There was no sign of forced entry; her neat little apartment with treasures from her life had been viciously ransacked. Our aide had phoned Mrs. B. the night before to inform her she would be visiting in the morning, but Mrs. B did not answer her phone. The aide made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Mrs. B and decided to call in the morning before visiting.


The following morning when the aide arrived at Mrs. B's apartment building the aide still had no response when she buzzed Mrs. B's room from the security area. A man-a resident or perhaps a visitor-unlocked the entry security door and the aide entered the hub of the building. Proceeding to the 10th floor, she knocked but received no answer. Mrs. B's family was contacted by a neighbor's phone and sped toward the high-rise. They all walked in on a terrifying sight.


Our agency staff has been in shock with disbelief and pain and is horrified by this senseless tragedy. We recently purchased a new building; this spring we will plant a tree in Mrs. B's memory. We are dedicating our new building to our community of patients for whom we love and care.


I write this note to you, my home care colleagues throughout the country, to remind you to teach safety to our patients, many of who are alone and totally dependent on outsiders like us. We have the opportunity and the responsibility to educate our patients, families, and staff concerning safety precautions at every visit. The reminders are critical during holidays, special occasions, and in these times of economic stress.


Remind everyone they must never let anyone bypass any safety measures in a secured building. Instruct your patients not to open their door to strangers and know who is on the other side of the door before opening it. Tell them its okay to say "No" and to call security. Remind staff to always use the security measures so residents don't let down their guards.


The news of Mrs. B's death was only a short sound byte on the evening news. It was mentioned that a home care nurse found her. Determined to keep her memory in the news we have posted a reward for the capture and conviction of Ms. B's killer. I met with the mayor of Elkhart and suggested approaches to protect senior citizens in high-rise buildings and received a favorable response.


Any man's death diminishes me, Because I am involved in Mankind. - John Donne, Meditation XVII: No Man is an Island


Not every incident can be prevented; we may never know how the murderer gained access to Mrs. B's apartment. Home care is provided to thousands of people every year. We can make a difference by educating and reeducating patients and staff to protect themselves. Help us prevent another senseless tragedy.