PORTLAND - An 82-year-old Alzheimer's patient who was dumped at an Idaho dog track in the midst of a state investigation of his finances has been returned to the safety of a Portland nursing home.
Nurses, aides and administrator Hal Elliott crowded the sidewalk outside the Laurelhurst Care Center yesterday as John Kingery arrived in a white van. They cheered and waved as an attendant removed Kingery in his wheelchair.
Holly Berman, the Multnomah County public guardian appointed to his case yesterday morning, accompanied Kingery from the airport to the nursing home.
"He doesn't understand much of what's happened to him," Berman said.
Kingery, a Ford Motor Co. retiree, did not acknowledge the crowd as he was wheeled up the ramp past blooming rhododendrons. His eyes were turned down beneath a blue cap that sported the motto: "Proud to be an American."
"He looks a little confused and worn and tired," Elliott said. Kingery has a urinary-tract infection but otherwise is in good health, he said.
Kingery was left at a greyhound racetrack in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Saturday night with a bag of diapers and a note identifying him as an Alzheimer's patient. Coeur d'Alene is 320 miles from Portland.
The note identified Kingery as "John King," a Spokane farmer, and said he had no family or money.
However, Elliott said Kingery received a pension of about $600 a month and about $400 a month in Social Security payments.
Under Medicaid rules, a patient is required to put any income toward payment of health-care costs. Medicaid pays the rest, allowing the patient to retain about $30 a month in spending money.
But Elliott said that while Kingery's daughter, Sue Gifford, of Hillsboro, Ore., signed over his Social Security payments to the nursing home, she withheld his Ford pension.
Sherryll Johnson, a spokeswoman for the state Senior and Disabled Services Division, said the state had been investigating the Kingery case since March 13.
The abandonment, reported by the news media worldwide, prompted more than 400 phone calls to police in Idaho. Kingery was identified Tuesday by Laurelhurst employees who saw the news reports.
The case drew responses from around the world.
"I guess it's because of the fact the man was abandoned in a state where it's not against the law to do that," Elliott said. "You can go to jail for abandoning a horse or a dog but not for abandoning a person."
Detectives were trying to find out how the man got from Oregon to Idaho, and who removed labels from his clothes and wrote a partially inaccurate note that was taped to his wheelchair, Hayes said.
"Maybe it was frustration, who knows?" police Detective Harlen Fritsche said. "It's despicable. There are other ways to handle things like this."
Kingery was moved from Laurelhurst three weeks ago by his daughter to another Portland nursing home, the Regency Park Living Center. Regency Park employees said Gifford removed him Saturday morning.
During the next month, Berman said, Kingery's case will be investigated and long-range plans will be made for his care. She said Kingery's future custody had not been decided, but he would not be returned to Gifford.
Kootenai County, Idaho, Prosecutor Bill Douglas said he could find no Idaho law against abandoning an adult. The case was referred to authorities in Oregon.
Alzheimer's disease attacks the brain, robbing its victim of even the most routine memories, abilities and behavior patterns.
Elliott said Kingery is in the final stages of the disease.