Janitor Speaks Out About Last Days at San Leandro Assisted Living Facility | Ellis Injury Law

Janitor Speaks Out About Last Days at San Leandro Assisted Living Facility

July 8, 2015

Ellis Law Corporation


A janitor and a cook who took care of senior residents abandoned at a California assisted living facility when the state failed to, opened up about their nightmarish experience. Valley Springs Manor, located in San Leandro, was officially shut down in 2013 by the state’s Department of Social Services, after evacuating 19 elderly and mentally ill residents. The move was based on numerous violations, from improperly treating injuries to blatant neglect and poor employee screening. However, 16 of these residents — many of them bed-ridden and confused — were never relocated, essentially left to fend for themselves.

CA assisted living facility shut down, residents abandoned

After the facility was shut down, much of the staff left except for two kind-hearted employees who had been recently hired as a cook and a janitor. Miguel Alvarez had been brought on to clean the residential facility just three weeks earlier, and recounts the harrowing last days of attempting to feed, bathe and medicate the increasingly weakened and anxious residents.

“I felt bad for them so I helped them… I felt … who’s just going to leave these people? Just leave them for damn near dead?” Alvarez told the Contra Costa Times. “I was the person who was bathing them, cleaning them, and that was not my job.” He added, “I’m just a janitor.” Alvarez was joined by Maurice Rowland, the facility’s cook, who received his last paycheck weeks before the shutdown but returned to work every day, putting his child-rearing experience to work. “From what I understood, we were supposed to work all the way until all the residents were gone,” Rowland told reporters.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is investigating elder abuse charges at Valley Springs Manor and San Leandro enforcement officials will meet with investigators from the California Department of Justice and FBI concerning allegations.

Here at Ellis Law, we believe there are few crimes more heinous than elder neglect and abuse. As we continue to follow the investigations into this heartbreaking story, we offer our legal services to anyone who suspects their family member or loved one is suffering at a nursing home or senior assisted living facility. The Los Angeles nursing home abuse lawyers of Ellis Law will pursue all potentially liable entities in the presence of physical or emotional abuse, financial exploitation or neglect.

Facility had license suspended for numerous violations

Rowland and Alvarez told NPR that after watching the more experienced staff vacate the property, the two agreed to hold steady until the residents were safely relocated or more help came. Working virtually around the clock without pay and with few breaks, the pair took turns giving out medication, bathing residents, changing diapers, brushing teeth, preparing meals and performing tasks for which they had no professional training.

The state’s Department of Social Services took measures to revoke the facility’s license in May 2013, but the decision was appealed, allowing the center to remain open while the case was pending. On October 24, the State finally posted the closure notice for Valley Springs Manor, but none of the DSS officials were to be found when the doors shut, say Rowland and Alaverez.

Hilda Manuel owns the facility and disputes some of the claims made by the two men. Her attorney says that the facility met the state’s legal requirements for resident-to-staff ratio, but does concede to payment problems for the employees.

Nursing home abuse lawyers helping Los Angeles victims

In the months following the shocking incident, Rowland and Alvarez received several commendations for their actions, which have been labeled “heroic.” If there is one positive aspect to this tragedy, the case spurred CA lawmakers to pass the Residential Care for the Elderly Reform Act – legislation that ensures seniors at assisted living care centers are not abandoned.

Abandonment, neglect and abuse of our most vulnerable population is not something that should go unpunished. To learn more about filing a Los Angeles elder abuse lawsuit, we invite you to call Ellis Law for a free and confidential case evaluation at 310-641-3335.