A Bogalusa family wants change after their loved one, a 79-year-old man with dementia and Alzheimer’s, walked away from a psychiatric hospital and was found dead on Father’s Day. Fox 8 filmed an exclusive interview with the family to turn their pain into reformation. Jeff Dickens remembers his father as Huey Kennedy, a hardworking, sometimes stubborn man who would do anything for his family. But the tragedy has distorted his memories. Before being transferred to an assisted living facility, Kennedy underwent a medication adjustment at Oceans Behavioral Hospital in Hammond.
Kennedy escaped through an unlocked door before his release. “You know the trust was broken by them because we knew we couldn’t do it and we didn’t want anything to happen to him,” said Misty Dickens, the daughter-in-law of the male. Jeff Dickens says surveillance tape shows his father left after 6 p.m., but staff didn’t notice him until medical rounds at 7 p.m. Police were called more than 90 minutes later and Kennedy’s wife was alerted around 9:30 p.m. Saturday night.
Dickens said he looked for his father an hour later. Weren’t they trained? Were they absent? He asked. Kennedy was found dead half a mile away 25 hours after he went missing. Why no door alarms? Why are the cameras not guarded? Dickens continued. These $200 devices will notify you when someone enters your home. Oceans Healthcare has 26 locations in Louisiana. The Dickens family trusted the professionals to look after their relative when they couldn’t. “A few times he thought he had to go to work, he got up and started walking. But his wife managed to call me and tell me that Huey got away with it,” Misty Dickens said. I located him immediately. We could have gone if we had known immediately. But they didn’t know instantly and that’s a problem.
Jeff Dickens remembers the large number of volunteers on the research team, but not the Oceans employees. Oceans Behavioral Hospital has treated other parents besides Huey Kennedy. Misty Dickens sent her grandmother for a medication adjustment. She claims they worried too. “She was able to walk out, but she was really, really upset and wanted to leave,” Misty Dickens said. “She said she didn’t like the way things were going and the way she was being treated, and that’s very concerning. We worried. Jeff and Misty Dickens were grateful for southern Louisiana on a gloomy day. I saw so many uninvited guests at Hammond. Fathers, mothers, brothers. “They spent Father’s Day helping me find my dad in extreme heat and humidity,” Jeff Dickens said. “It was a tough day, but Louisiana’s caring culture makes me proud to be a Louisianan.”