ALAMEDA COUNTY, CA (KGO/KRON/CNN) - It was nothing less than chaos. Medics were racing to rescue more than a dozen elderly residents after they were abandoned by the majority of the caregivers at Valley Springs Manor Home.
"How could somebody do that? We're talking about human beings here. How do you just abandon them? It's a bad situation," J.D. Nelson of Alameda County Sheriff's Department said.
A bad situation is exactly what the State of California says was happening here for years according to a complaint from the Department of Social Services, which was in the process of shutting the place down.
Last Thursday, the state suspended Valley Springs' license, citing a long list of violations, including insufficient employee training, failure to provide necessary medications to patients, not properly treating or reporting patient injuries, and poor maintenance and cleanliness.
Once the government stepped in, the owners were not allowed near the facility, end of story. But the patients were still there. By the close of business on Friday, anyone with any authority was gone, nowhere to be found.
The residents were left with two caregivers and a cook who said they didn't have the proper training to do all that they were doing but felt compelled to stay.
Maurice Rowland, a cook at the home for three months, said he and the other untrained workers took over, trying to do anything they could to look after the residents, who needed round-the-clock care.
"I was already overwhelmed on day two," he said.
Rowland was overwhelmed, he said, because the patients needed help with everything from using the bathroom, to preparing their meals and even taking medication, which no one was authorized to provide.
"We definitely wasn't the people who were supposed to be passing out their meds," he said.
Rowland said he felt compelled to stay "because I, in my eyes, I had to stay. I couldn't leave the residents there by themselves. Ain't no telling what would have happened if I would have left."
Rowland said so many residents needed urgent care that he kept calling 911 for different patients.
"We just get up there and find the 14 people with nobody really there to care for them, so paramedics plus ambulance company got them all transported to the hospital," Nelson said.
What's more, the families of the people abandoned at the home didn't even know it had been shut down.
Jean Pong paid the facility $3,000 a month to care for her sister - but she arrived to find she wasn't cared for at all.
"I think they should be held accountable," Pong said. "You just can't vacate and leave your residents without proper care. I mean, this is what you pay for."
There were no answers at the facility and at the homes of the owners Hilda and Mary Manuel.
The Department of Social Services closed the facility.
"Staff at the facility had indicated that they could provide care of the residents over the weekend," said Michael Weston, deputy director of public affairs. "That should not have occurred."
They said there is no doubt they dropped the ball.
"We have procedures that should have been followed, and they weren't, and we are going to figure out why that was to make sure that doesn't happen again," Weston said.
A lawyer for one of the owners, Hilda Manuel, said the patients were not abandoned. Attorney Orrin Grover said, "Someone jumped the gun" and that it was a "premature judgment to move the residents."
He also said the owner "would not, did not and has not abandoned these patients." She just wanted to transfer them in an orderly fashion.
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