When the California Department of Social Services shut down a facility caring for ailing seniors Thursday, most patients evacuated and the employees, without the promise of pay, walked out.
But KTVU-TV reported that 14 bedridden or wheelchair-bound patients were left behind, and only three employees -- a cook, janitor and one caretaker -- at Valley Springs Manor stayed to care for them. The San Jose Mercury News reported the 33-bed facility apparently had 25 patients prior to it being shuttered.
A sign outside the now-shuttered Valley Spring Manor home, at which most of the staff abandoned more than a dozen residents. (Image source: KNTV-TV video screenshot)
Two days after the state department shut down the Castro Valley facility for health and safety reasons, paramedics arrived to remove these final patients after receiving a 911 call Saturday, according to KNTV-TV.
"We're talking about human beings here. How do you just abandon them? It's heartbreaking," Alameda County Sheriff spokesman Sgt. JD Nelson told KTVU.
"These patients had no way to fend for themselves, but out of the goodness of their hearts, three people stayed to try to care for (the patients)," he said to the Mercury News.
Families of patients told KNTV they didn't know what had happened until authorities became involved.
"It's brutal and horrific to know," a woman whose mother-in-law was left at the facility said, according to KNTV. "It's not even just her. There were over a dozen people that were left behind that couldn't fend for themselves."
The woman, who declined to be identified, said Sunday she still didn't even know where her husband's mother was.
"I'm actually pretty upset because we have no idea where his mom is," she said. "The officers are trying to figure out where they relocated her to, so it's really infuriating."
"What they've done is negligent, and they should be prosecuted for what they've done at this facility and other facilities," Burton Nash, a man whose mother was in the facility, told KNTV. "Abandoning elderly people and elderly abuse is just criminal."
The patients evacuated Saturday were brought to local hospitals or relocated to family.
The owners of Valley Spring Manor are facing abuse charges. Other facilities owned by the same person were shut down at least temporarily.