In the end, Rodney Riviello was just a few blocks from the emergency room he walked out of in the scorching heat late last Tuesday morning.

His body was found Saturday near the shore at the end of a private way called Blackmer Lane. The narrow road, adjacent to 10 Warren Ave., is only about a half mile from Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, where Riviello was taken on June 18 by emergency medical services after falling in his Manomet neighborhood.

It’s not clear why the 69-year-old Riviello wasn’t found earlier, since searchers, drones and dogs, scoured the area multiple times after he disappeared.

Some Plymouth residents, including Riviello family members, have raised questions about the effort the hospital made to ensure his safe return home.

Late Monday, Beth Israel Deaconess president Kevin Coughlin referred questions to “media relations,” which so far has not offered any details about the circumstances that led to Riviello leaving the hospital’s grounds.

“The hospital is committed to the safety of its patients and its employees,” Coughlin said in an email.

Riviello was evaluated in the emergency room, where he appeared to have a fractured nose and had suffered a bruise on his head. After receiving treatment, he was offered a voucher for a Lyft ride home — a ride that he never took.

Rodney Riviello’s body was found by the shoreline, at the end of Blackmer Lane, off Warren Avenue. Credit: (Photo by Mark Pothier)

No one made sure he got into the car, according to his family and a nurse who works at the hospital.

The hospital could have contacted Riviello’s wife, Julie, who is listed as his contact in her late husband’s medical records. His primary care physician is affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess, his son, Dan Riviello, said.

Rodney Riviello appeared “alert and oriented” said the nurse, who wasn’t directly involved in his care, but spoke with hospital employees who were. She said “he was able to make his own decision.” She requested anonymity because employees are not allowed to speak to the media.

The hospital can’t hold someone against their will, she said.

Nonetheless, Dan said, his father should not have been let go without a caretaker. He had suffered a series of mini strokes resulting in impairment that would have shown up in a brain scan he underwent while being treated at Beth Israel Deaconess, he said.

“Protocols aren’t in place to protect an elderly person with cognitive issues who has nobody to pick him up… They can’t just let him go,” he said.

“He never took a Lyft in his life,” he continued. “A lot of people have a story where someone was let go from the hospital without a caretaker. This is the most tragic example.”

The family’s focus now is on figuring out “how we can make sure this never happens to anyone again,” Dan said.

From left, Rodney Riviello’s wife, Julie Riviello; his son, Dan; his daughter, Michelle Norris; and Rodney. This photo was taken at Michelle’s wedding to her husband, Patrick, in 2017. Credit: (Photo courtesy of the Riviello family)

Hospital workers and relatives of other Beth Israel Deaconess patients – some of whom have taken to social media to criticize the hospital’s handling of the case – agreed.

Emergency room employees, overworked and understaffed, apparently did not make sure he got into the car it called for him, according to the nurse.

“This was a situation that was waiting to happen,” she said. “All of this would be avoidable if the hospital hired a couple of drivers…We frequently have issues with people getting rides home.”

She said that in other parts of the hospital staffers escort patients to a waiting car.

The nurse said that devastated staffers feel they are being blamed for Riviello’s death. They have been told verbally not to discuss the incident, even amongst themselves, and no one from the hospital is defending them, she said.

“I am extremely angry at how Beth Israel has handled it,” she said.

“People are eviscerating us,” she said. “People have been threatening hospital workers. It’s infuriating We are members of the community — we care and are grieving too.”

The nurse also accused Plymouth police of taking too long to issue a Silver Alert — it came out at 8:30 p.m., more than nine hours after he left the hospital.

As soon as the alert was issued, the nurse said, she went to the command center set up at the Plymouth courthouse on Obery Street and volunteered to search but was told police didn’t need the help.

“I told (an officer) I worked at the hospital and wanted to help, and I was interrogated like a suspect,” she said. “He turned me away.”

She said she then searched on her own for 3-1/2 hours and never heard a police officer call his name. “I was screaming for three hours,” she said. “I’m still hoarse.”

Police spokesman Jason Higgins deferred questions to Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz, who is responsible for investigating any unattended death.

His spokeswoman, Beth Stone, said Riviello’s death “remains under investigation.”

Higgins insisted police did everything they could to find Riviello.

“Within hours, we conducted a reverse 911 MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency) notification that alerted cell phones within Plymouth, and put out a Silver alert,” he said.

“Any information that says otherwise is inaccurate,” Higgins said.

He said that department never dissuaded civilians from looking for Riviello.

“On the contrary,” Higgins said. “We thanked them in our public responses, and I also went in front of a group searching, thanking them.”

Dan Riviello agreed.

“We have no issues or criticism whatsover with the police response,” he said. “We believe they went above and beyond for the search of our father,” he said.

‘I’ve had personal interactions with the police and they have been amazing. We really don’t think there was anything more they could have done. We can never thank them enough.”

On Monday, Rodney Riviello’s grieving family visited the spot where he was found —in a marshy area near the water.

“I think he found a calm, quiet place with a beautiful view of the harbor,” said Dan. “You wouldn’t even know it was there.”

“I’m going to take solace in the fact that he found a beautiful place. He probably sat down to rest and never woke up.”

Andrea Estes can be reached at

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