By Dan Noyes, ABC 7 News, May 12 2020
The State Department of Public Health is taking action against the owner of an East Bay nursing home that has suffered one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the state, denying her license to operate nine more facilities.
ORINDA, Calif. (KGO) — The State Department of Public Health is taking action against the owner of an East Bay nursing home that has suffered one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the state, denying her license to operate nine more facilities.
They have taken that action, but nursing home advocates say there are serious problems with state oversight, even in this case.
37-year-old Crystal Solorzano told the I-Team in our interview last month that she owns and operates 11 nursing homes, including Orinda Care Center, where dozens of staff and patients have contracted coronavirus. Workers tell me at least six patients have died.
“Our condolences,” Solorzano told Dan Noyes in an exclusive interview April 13th. “This is such a terrible, terrible virus that is going across the world right now.”
But now, the State Department of Public Health has denied her license to operate nine additional nursing homes, from San Jose to Central and Southern California.
The state said she submitted a fraudulent transcript from Touro College.
The state also cited dozens of violations at her nursing homes over the past three years, among them:
- Patient raped by certified nursing assistant
- Patient fell, broken hip not diagnosed for 6 days
- Unsafe food storage sickened residents
- Failed to address aggressive patient who stabbed another with a fork
We questioned Solorzano last month about violations that the state said, placed patients in immediate jeopardy.
Dan Noyes: “What is going on? How are your clients in immediate jeopardy in those homes?”
Crystal Solorzano: “There’s a lot of things that I would like to speak about. And when the time is right, Dan, you’re going to be the first one to talk with me about them.”
Today, she emailed a statement: “The allegations in the CDPH letter you reference are false. There will be a hearing in September on the matter and we will publicly respond to these baseless allegations at the appropriate time.”
Mike Dark of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform said today, “Make no mistake that it is common throughout the nursing home industry in California to see very serious violations, meaning violations in which people’s lives are at risk.”
Dark says this pandemic is exposing problems in state oversight that have lasted years.
“They don’t stop them from operating,” said Dark. “Those operators can simply appeal any denial of their application and they can even lose that appeal, but the State Department of Public Health’s position is that they can go on running nursing homes with people’s lives in their hands.”
The State Department of Public Health responded today. They can’t comment on any specific case, but that they do all they legally can to safeguard residents of nursing homes.
Here is the complete statement from the CDPH Office of Public Affairs:
“The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has taken, and will continue to take, every action within our legal authority to safeguard residents, investigate licensure violations, and ensure violations are immediately remedied. CDPH continues to closely monitor skilled nursing facilities across the state, and is actively working with them on infection control measures for COVID-19. Facility licensing applications are accepted or denied on a per-application basis. CDPH cannot comment on the records of any specific owner or operator. To view ownership information for various health facilities, including compliance history for each facility as well as copies of CDPH investigation records, please visit our Cal Health Find database.”
And this is the complete statement sent by Crystal Solorzano and her spokesman, Dan Kramer:
“The allegations in the CDPH letter you reference are false. There will be a hearing in September on the matter and we will publicly respond to these baseless allegations at the appropriate time. Our only focus now is maintaining the health and safety of our residents. We’re happy to announce that Contra Costa Health Dept. cleared the facility and it free of COVID-19.”
“Orinda Care has followed and continues to follow infection prevention protocols to protect the health and wellbeing of the residents and staff. Adhering to CDC, CMS and CDPH publications, guidelines and recommendations, no visitors or non-essential personnel are being allowed into the facility. Our staff and ownership have taken all reasonable measures to reduce opportunities for social spreading and mitigate risks for our residents, while still providing essential care.”
“We recognized early on that the industry would be quickly be running out of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Over the last two months we have assisted in getting 2,500 American workers back to work and have produced hundreds of thousands of pieces of PPE for our facilities, hospitals and nursing homes around the country.”
“Orinda Care facility owner Crystal Solórzano’ is working with the SEIU and the Domestic Medical Supply Coalition www.dmscoalition.com to request that President Trump invoke the maximum power available under the U.S. Defense Production Act to help our nation produce more of the required PPEs and to help make America safe again. Said Solorzano, ‘Reliable international supplies of PPEs have almost ceased to exist, domestic stockpiles are dwindling. We must do something now.'”
If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours here.