Janitor and Cook Save Abandoned Residents of Home Closed Due to Elder Abuse Charges

Two Staff Members Remained to Care for Abandoned Residents After Care Facility Closed Due to State Elder Abuse Charges

abandoned residentsAfter the Valley Springs Manor care facility in Castro Valley, California closed due to serious state-level charges of elder abuse, the facility was abandoned by all the staff members except for one cook and one janitor, who remained to care for the elderly population.

The Mercury News interviewed Miguel Alvarez, the janitor at the home who was hired on October 7th. Alvarez is a stay-at-home dad, but had taken the job to help supplement his wife’s income as the Christmas season approached. However, he never saw a paycheck for his work at the facility.

Maurice Rowland, the cook, was a childhood friend of Alvarez, and got the 33-year-old father a job. Rowland himself had only been working for Valley Springs Manor for three months, and as the facility was thrown into financial chaos, he too stopped being paid. He said his last paycheck was on October 18th, but he continued to work at the facility because he thought employees were supposed to stay until the last of the residents were evacuated.

However, the Department of Social Services closed the facility on October 24th due to unfixed safety and staff violations, which had led to serious allegations of elder abuse. The facility’s owners disappeared, an administrator walked off without notice, and the rest of the nursing and custodial staff, without paychecks, dwindled away. Only Rowland and Alvarez were left, and they spent several days working almost 24-hour-long shifts at the home, taking turns sleeping in a chair so that the 19 abandoned residents would not be alone.

“I felt bad for them so I helped them,” said Alvarez, a San Leandro resident, who had no experience or training caring for elders. “I felt … who’s just going to leave these people? Just leave them for damn near dead?”

“I just tried to hold on strong for them, and that’s all I could do,” he continued. “I wouldn’t want nobody to leave my parents or my grandparents.”

Alvarez and Rowland suffered several sleepless nights, as 19 abandoned residents grew worse and worse. Many had gone days without necessary medication, and Alvarez said they grew “zombie-like.” Some even tried to escape, and one man, Edmund Bascom, who called himself Goldfinger, did not get his required medication for his mental illness and he eventually wandered away. Rowland and Alvarez rode their bikes around the neighborhood trying to find him, but he remains unseen.

Rowland and Alvarez made dozens of 911 calls over those several days, reporting that residents had been abandoned by the rest of the staff and the facility had been closed due to severe elder abuse. Finally, on Saturday afternoon after the facility’s closing, a fire captain realized that there had been no professional caregivers at Valley Springs Manor and evacuated the last of the elderly residents.

“I just know from having a son how to clean up people, changing their diapers,” Alvarez said. “I was the person who was bathing them, cleaning them, and that was not my job.” He added, “I’m just a janitor.”

The Attorneys at the Strom Law Firm Prosecute Elder Abuse

If your loved one has physically suffered, or died wrongfully, because an in-home caregiver or registered nurse in a nursing home has neglected the patient, you may have an elder abuse caseThe attorneys at the Strom Law Firm understand the sensitive nature of elder abuse cases, and will treat you with respect and compassion. It is important to fight felony elder abuse so you, your family, and others no longer suffer because of criminal behavior. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us today for help. 803.252.4800

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