The California Veterans Home in southwest Fresno took a major step toward opening Monday when Rojirio "Roy" De La Cerda was sworn in as its administrator.
De La Cerda, 39, was sworn in during a brief ceremony outside the veterans home, which will open Oct. 18 after nearly 18 months of delays since its completion. A home in Redding will open the following week, giving the state eight veterans homes.
"This home has been a very long time in coming," said state Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Peter J. Gravett, who swore in De La Cerda. "This is the very next step in having the home open."
De La Cerda was raised in the Fresno-area and is the grandson of a veteran.
He comes to the Veterans Home after two years as administrator of California Correctional Health Care Services at Corcoran State Prison. He graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor's degree in social work and was in the private sector, working from 2000 to 2011 at Golden Living Centers, a chain of skilled nursing facilities based in Fresno.
Because of the time he spent caring for and helping his grandparents and working in skilled nursing facilities, De La Cerda said he has a unique perspective that goes beyond the business side.
"I come here with a human background and I will make sure our residents have the best quality of life," he said. "My education in social work and running and operating a facility is a great combination."
Prior to working at Golden Living Centers, De La Cerda worked as a service coordinator at Central Valley Regional Center in Fresno from 2000 to 2001 and eight years as a dialysis patient-care technician at Reedley Dialysis.
De La Cerda lives in Fowler with his wife, Sonia, and their four children.
J.D. Bennett, a board member with the Central California Veterans Support Foundation, said he was encouraged that a person with local roots will lead the operation.
"His being from the Valley adds a special touch," Bennett said. "He's got family that are veterans so he knows what it's like to serve the needs of vets."
The foundation is continuing to raise money to assist veterans at the home.
The home, which can house 300, will open with eight veterans next month and expects to have 25 by the end of the year. Veterans can still apply for a room. The cost is on a sliding scale based upon income and health-care needs.
The Veterans Home also is seeking employees. At full staffing, the home will employ 450. So far, about 100 have been hired.
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