Probe Begins Over Patients Left at Closed Long-Term Care Facility
The Alameda County Sheriff's Office has launched a criminal investigation of an assisted-living facility in Castro Valley that left numerous residents behind after it was shut down by the California Department of Social Services last week, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
On Saturday, law enforcement officers discovered that Valley Springs Manor left 19 residents behind after it was shut down by the California Department of Social Services (O'Brien, San Jose Mercury News, 10/31).
Social services closed Valley Springs Manor last week, and only three employees stayed behind -- without receiving pay -- to take care of the remaining residents, according to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
The residents included:
- Amputees; and
- Elderly individuals with dementia.
On Saturday, the three employees called emergency dispatchers to report the situation.
Michael Weston, a spokesperson for the social services department, said there was a "history of concerns" with the facility (California Healthline, 10/28).
On Tuesday, DSS announced that it will continue to assess why the patients were left at the facility. So far, the department has determined that proper patient relocation procedures were not followed (California Healthline, 10/30).
Details of Criminal Investigation
The Alameda County Sheriff's Office said it is pursuing a criminal probe of the incident that could last for months.
Law enforcement officials said they plan to discuss the incident in a meeting on Thursday with other groups, including:
- A Federal Bureau of Investigation health care fraud division; and
- The state Attorney General's office.
Emmanuel Christy, a lieutenant with the sheriff's office, said, "[I]f you're entrusted to care for someone who can't care for themselves, and you walk away, it's abandonment" and could be "considered elder abuse."
Fourteen of the former residents of Valley Springs Manor are being relocated to skilled nursing homes as the investigation continues.
However, investigators on Wednesday said they have been unable to find a 65-year-old resident with mental illness who wandered away from the facility on Friday (San Jose Mercury News, 10/31).
Facility Owners' Response
Orrin Grover, an attorney for the owners of Valley Springs Manor, said the employees left behind at the facility were caring for patients while the owners arranged for transfers to other sites.
"We feel like the residents were not abandoned," Grover said (Collins, AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.