Janitor And Cook Care For Helpless Seniors After Staff Abandons Elder Care Facility (AUDIO)

Published On November 23, 2014 | By Bob Rowen |

The baby boom generation is reaching their golden years, and with that wave of new senior citizens comes a boom of another kind. From the traditional nursing home to the assisted living facility, Adult Care has become an increasingly large segment of our economy.

For the most part, this emerging market has been populated by well-run organizations offering a wide variety of services and taking good care of our parents and grandparents.But when the system breaks down, the potential for disaster is vast as the recent case of Valley Springs Manor makes all too clear.

In October of last year, the assisted living facility in Castro Valley, California was ordered closed by state authorities after numerous health code violations, giving them several days to find new arrangements for the residents.

The story should end there, but it doesn’t. Staff members left when management stopped paying them, leaving 16 residents behind. It was only the incredible compassion of two staffers that kept the situation from becoming a tragedy. Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez, a cook and a janitor, stayed behind without pay and worked around the clock taking care of the abandoned residents.

NPR reports that the two knew they couldn’t in good conscience abandon the seniors. Said Rowland;

“There was about 16 residents left behind, and we had a conversation in the kitchen, ‘What are we going to do?'”

34-year-old Alvarez said;

“If we left, they wouldn’t have nobody.” 

In an extraordinary display of humanity to the seniors in the twilight of their lives, some suffering dementia, Alvarez  – himself abandoned as a child – added;

“You know, you feel sad, but you don’t want to show them you’re feeling like that, you know? My parents, when they were younger, they left me abandoned. Knowing how they are going to feel, I didn’t want them to go through that.”

The months that followed were filled with finger-pointing from both the operators of the facility and the State of California. A probe of the incident found that State Social Services,

“…fell short of its mission to protect the health and safety of residents in Valley Springs Manor.”  

Subsequently, California passed the Residential Care For the Elderly (RCFE) reform act of 2014, which establishes parameters for a smooth and safe transition in future closures. In the future, the state will work to ensure that residents are relocated when a facility is closed and that licensed personnel are required to stay behind while arrangements are made.

In the case of Valley Springs Manor, possible tragedy was averted here only because two selfless men refused to let it happen.

California has taken steps to avoid future problems, but as Adult Care becomes an ever larger part of our collective lives, we must do more to ensure it doesn’t happen again anywhere.

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Listen to the incredible story here:


Watch Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez being honored by thier community HERE:


Bob Rowen
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Bob Rowen

A lifelong politics junkie with particular interests in privatization and other business and labor issues like minimum wage and immigration.Robert Rowen is also a writer of fiction.His first novel is called The Ballad of Llewellynn.

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