SDC faces Friday deadline
A California Department of Public Health (CDPH) review of four deficiencies putting residents of the Sonoma Developmental Center in “immediate jeopardy” was due to be completed today. At risk is federal funding for 290 residents of the facility’s Intermediate Care Facility which could lose $117,000 a day if sufficient compliance has not been reached.
On Dec. 12, SDC received notice from the Public Health department that it had until Jan. 4 to demonstrate corrective action with concrete, substantive improvement in the deficient areas. The “letter of determination not to renew” stated in bold print, “A plan for correction at some future date, or evidence of mere progress toward correction, will not be sufficient.”
The demand for immediate improvement in four areas of deficiency followed a July review by Public Health inspectors that revealed 57 deficiencies. The four in question were described as creating “immediate jeopardy to resident health and safety.”
The Health Department ultimatum came in the wake of revelations that abuse cases inside the 1,000-acre rural campus outside Glen Ellen have included the rape and pregnancy of a resident, the assault of a dozen residents with a Taser weapon, other cases of sexual abuse and sloppy or negligent investigative work by the state’s Office of Protective Services which polices developmental facilities.
Hours after the Jan. 4 deadline was announced, a statement was released from Terri Delgadillo, director of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) which administers SDC, stating that, “We will work with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and CDPH to ensure the Sonoma Developmental Center’s care meets state and federal standards.”
Delgadillo outlined a host of corrective and preventative measures her department is taking, including the hiring of a regulatory compliance expert to create a “Corrective Action and Quality Assurance Team.”
Delgadillo’s statement also said her department would appeal the termination notice as it develops means to bring SDC into compliance with federal funding guidelines.
A DDS spokeswoman said Thursday that, “we’re doing the things we outlined in the (Dec. 12) statement. We’re working on those steps we outlined.”
Paul Romero, a spokesman for the CDPH, said Thursday that, “We have no idea” what the outcome of the current review will be until it is complete. He said he did not expect to have any further information about the review and the status of CDPH’s ultimatum until sometime today (Friday) at the earliest. “They’re in there surveying at this time,” he said, “and we can’t report anything until they’re done.”
Sonoma Developmental Center serves a patient population of some 517 residents with about 1,400 employees, 562 of whom are psychiatric technicians. Many of the institution’s psyche techs have experienced extended periods of mandatory overtime in the last few years, some of them working 16-hour days.
SDC’s annual operating budget is approximately $146 million a year.