Elderly woman with dementia found dead on SFGH property

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's happened again -- a patient found dead inside a stairwell on the campus of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. In this case, it happened ten days after the woman was reported missing. San Francisco's Department of Public Health confirms the body is that of 76-year-old Ruby Lee Andersen. ABC7 News spoke to two of her children over the phone and they say the family is in "deep shock".

Andersen suffered from dementia and was being treated at one of the Department of Public Health facilities on the hospital campus. Family members put out a news release on May 22, two days after she wandered off and never came back.

It turned out, Andersen didn't go very far. A staff engineer found her body in the stairwell of the hospital's power plant building, which is supposedly not accessible to the general public.

"We don't know how this person gained access to the area where she was found and we're absolutely looking into that," Rachael Kagan, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

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It's up to the Medical Examiner to determine the cause of death. For many in the community, the discovery of Andersen's body is bringing back painful memories from five years ago. That's when the body of 58-year-old Lynne Spalding was also found in a stairwell. In her case, she had been missing for 17 days and the stairwell was in the hospital building.

"It's just something that should never have happened but the fact that it happened twice, is truly beyond the pale," said David Perry, a friend of Spalding's.

Spalding's family settled for $3 million and her case sparked changes in security, training, and protocol at the hospital.

"I can't imagine what the family of this poor woman is going through. More to the point, what this poor woman went through. You go into a place of healing and you're supposed to be safe," said Perry.

The Dept of Public Health, the Sheriff's Department and Police are investigating. An update is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday.
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