Posted: 9:49 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, 2013

Neighbors speak out on Valley Manor abuse claims

Valley Manor interior
Valley Manor interior

By John Fowler

CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. (KTVU) —

Neighbors of the Valley Manor Community Care Home in Castro Valley, told KTVU Monday they’ve witnessed appalling conditions at the home for years.

While the assisted living facility’s license was suspended last week, the state granted permissions to continue operating while patients were relocated. But on Saturday authorities were called to the home after three staffers determined they could not take care of the patients.

The white stucco building now featuring an “Out of Business” sign on the front door, sits back from the street in a modest well-kept neighborhood with a fading white fence and sign flanking the now empty parking lot.  Through open windows KTVU crews got a look inside, revealing what residents left behind: Bedding was unmade, slippers and clothing strewn about small rooms; Personal items including suitcases, walkers, wheelchairs and television sets scattered throughout rooms; Food and beverages sit barely touched on dining tables.

On Monday neighbors gathered to recall their own memories of the home, explain that for years conditions there had been appalling.

“It was just elder abuse, and neglect of needy people,” said Stefan Perri who added he’d seen problems there for years.

Perri described one incident where he found an elderly woman resident of Valley Manor curled up naked and shivering in a nearby bush.

Others described wandering residents, who would sometimes ring doorbells in the middle of the night.

Eighteen-year-old Kelsey Wood’s bedroom was adjacent to the facility.

“I would hear screaming and yelling and things like ‘Get me out of here,’” Wood said.

On Saturday paramedics removed 14 residents, ten other residents had moved out in the days before. There had only been three staffers present during a September 30th visit according to a State complaint.

Through her attorney, Orrin Grover, owner Hilda Manuel, said she had spent over $100,000 in an attempt to fix the facility. Neighbors say they only saw workers replacing plumbing, which they believed was for fire suppression sprinklers.

Grover said his client was addressing deficiencies state inspectors found and ordered fixed, five months prior.

“(State inspectors) were preparing the temporary suspension order without knowing what we'd done the last working day before they started to do that,” Grover told KTVU via telephone.

Grover denied claims that any patients were abandoned at the facility, saying three staffers were enough to care for the remaining residents.

While state regulations require “adequate staffing” at assisted living facilities, they do not specify staff-to-resident ratios.

Manuel has had previous run ins with State regulators, including deficiencies at previous homes she’s owned going back at least ten years.

State Social Services is seeking to permanently revoke licenses for this and two other facilities, and instruct Hilda and Mary Manuel from any employment or contact with any Department of Social Services-licensed facility.

Grover said Hilda Manuel has requested a hearing with a judge.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department confirmed late Monday that there is a criminal investigation into the operation of Valley Manor, but no arrests are imminent.

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