Sonoma Center Appeals Decertification

State officials yesterday announced an appeal has been filed over the decertification of the intermediate care facilities at the Sonoma Developmental Center.

An Aug.8 letter from the executive director of the Sonoma center called for a full evidentiary hearing on the findings and decertification decision by the California Department of Public Health.

That appeal will give the center valuable time to correct problems CDPH found and to bring the facilities fully into compliance, said Nancy Lungren, assistant director of communications at the Department of Developmental Services, which oversees Sonoma Developmental Center. 

“We stand to lose $2.5 million a month for every month Sonoma is out of compliance,” Lungren said. “It’s important to appeal to give us time to bring the center into compliance.”

The decertification of the Sonoma center does not go into effect for 90 days from the decision by CDPH, which was rendered July 25. The appeal gives DDS and the center an additional 120 days beyond that to correct everything.

That means, come February, the center can ask for a second survey by CDPH, Lungren said.

“Some things they can make immediate improvement on, and there are some things that may require more retraining or more monitoring or updating,” Lungren said.

The relatively minor concerns in the 200-page CDPH report include such things as too many weeds and discovery of an anthill on the grounds, Lungren said. Those things can be corrected immediately, while other issues, such as better training of the staff, are long-term projects.

Lungren said many improvements have been made in the past year, including expanding an integration-into-the-community program, adding staff, developing a re-training program for staff, changing administration leaders and putting in place a system of review processes.

CDPH survey monitors saw those positive steps forward, Lungren said.

“They definitely told the executive director that they’d made a lot of progress,” Lungren said, “but there are also a lot of little things that are out of compliance now. We have made improvements.”

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