July 13, 2001

VUMC pulls together to find missing man

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The volunteers discuss the search efforts in the incident command center at Vanderbilt. (photo by Anne Rayner)

VUMC pulls together to find missing man

Teamwork proved successful after a massive volunteer effort led by Vanderbilt and community agencies resulted in the location of Kenneth Gifford on Monday.

Gifford walked away from the hospital on July 6 where he was being treated for an infection. Because of Gifford’s limited mental abilities, his need for dialysis treatment on Monday, and the heat, it was urgent that he be found before suffering life-threatening complications.

Vanderbilt responded to the situation by activating the incident command system to coordinate search and rescue teams.

Over 200 VUMC volunteers along with Metro Police, Metro Police Academy recruits, and the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department participated in the search effort.

“The command staff began recruiting volunteers early Sunday afternoon, and within hours we had numerous people reporting to help form search parties,” Jerry Jones, information officer and command center staff member, said.

At approximately 11 p.m. on Monday, Metro Police Officer Chad Barth discovered Gifford near the Old Metro General Hospital off Hermitage Avenue, bringing to an end the three-day search led by Vanderbilt Police and the Metro Office of Emergency Management.

Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs, thanked all Vanderbilt employees who volunteered to help find Kenneth Gifford, the patient who wandered away last week.

“I want to personally thank all of the Vanderbilt staff who volunteered on Sunday and Monday to help search,” said Jacobson. “This speaks volumes about our commitment to this community and our concern for our patients. It demonstrated both a tremendous concern for this patient, and a commitment to the work we do every day.”

According to Jones, Gifford was eventually found under the protection of a group of homeless people. After being positively identified by his family, Gifford was readmitted to the hospital.