This nursing home sent her back home where cockroaches and maggots had attacked her

Fresno Bee Staff Photo

A 74-year-old woman is suing a Fresno nursing home that she alleges dumped her outside her home where she had been found soiled with vomit and feces, with cockroaches crawling on her and maggots in a wound on her right foot.

Virginia Santillan is suing Manning Gardens Care Center for elder abuse, neglect and violation of patient rights.

In addition to the alleged illegal eviction, Santillan says the nursing home failed to provide adequate care and did not protect her from a male resident of the nursing home who she says preyed upon and stalked her, violating her privacy and dignity.

Jody Moore, a Thousand Oaks lawyer who is representing Santillan, said Manning Gardens has a history of dumping patients.

The home was cited three times this year for improper patient transfers by the California Department of Public Health, which investigates nursing home complaints.

In Santillan’s case, the state fined Manning Gardens $20,000. State records show Manning Gardens also was cited for the improper transfer of an 82-year-old man who fell and broke a hip after being sent to a facility that was not equipped to take care of his needs. And in a similar case, the state said a man was sent to a facility that could not provide the 24-hour care he required to remain safe. In each case of the two cases involving men, the state fined the nursing home $2,000.

“Three citations by the Department of Public Health indicate a pattern, that Manning Gardens has no interest in following the rules regarding safe discharge,” Moore said.

Santillan now lives in another nursing home and is getting the care she needs, Moore said. “She’s better now.” But the lawsuit includes a request for an injunction to make the nursing home comply with laws governing the admission, transfer and discharge of residents, she said.

Calls to Ron Kinnersley, listed in the lawsuit as Manning Garden’s owner, operator and administrator, were not returned.

A civil lawsuit represents one side in a legal dispute.

Pat McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said Manning Gardens is but one example of problem transfers made by nursing homes.

“It’s good to see this lawsuit,” she said. “You want this to be an example that you can’t do this and get away with it.”

According to Santillan’s lawsuit, Manning Gardens made no arrangements to make sure she would have appropriate care before calling a transport company to take her home last Nov. 7. The 59-bed nursing home, about eight miles south of Fresno at Manning and Cedar avenues, opened in 1962. Santillan was admitted there on May 17, 2016.

Under state law, nursing home residents have the right to a 30-day notice of a discharge, the date of the discharge, the location of where they are being sent, sufficient preparation and orientation at the discharge location to ensure a safe and orderly transfer and to be given information of their right to appeal the discharge and help in submitting an appeal. The lawsuit says the home failed to prepare a safe and orderly discharge plan.

The complaint, filed Oct. 26 in Fresno County Superior Court, alleges the nursing home knew there was an Adult Protective Services investigation regarding the fitness of Santillan’s home. But Manning Gardens called a transport company to take her there anyway. Santillan had been sent to an emergency room prior to her admission to Manning Gardens because she was unable to take care of herself at home. “Manning Gardens and Mr. Kinnersley knew, or should have known, Ms. Santiallan would self-neglect again if discharged home, yet did it anyway in conscious disregard for Ms. Santillan’s rights and safety,” the complaint says.

According to the lawsuit, when Santillan arrived at her home on Nov. 7, her son told the transport driver he was unable to care for her and refused to take her inside. The driver called Manning Gardens and Kinnersley, who drove with an assistant administrator to the residence, where they found Santillan on the curb. Santillan and her son were told that she could not return to the nursing home unless she paid an outstanding bill of $11,649.63 for her Medi-Cal share-of-cost. Medi-Cal is California’s version of Medicaid, which provides health insurance for low-income seniors and families.

Santillan became ill from the stress of the encounter and the transport driver called 911. When police and fire personnel arrived, Kinnersley and the assistant administrator left, the lawsuit says.

In addition to improper transfer allegations, the complaint alleges Santillan did not get good care while at Manning Gardens. The lawsuit says the nursing home failed to provide for Santillan, who has been paralyzed on the right side of her body since having a stroke about 15 years ago. She required total support from the nursing home staff to get in and out of bed and into a wheelchair. She needed help with dressing and personal hygiene, assistance with toileting and bathing. It was painful for her to eat and drink, and the lawsuit says Santillan became dehydrated and had to be hospitalized when staff did not follow orders that she be given a special liquid.

Manning Gardens also allowed a male resident to prey on and stalk Santillan, the lawsuit says. Santillan told staff he frightened her, and on one occasion she called 911 when she felt threatened by him. Another time, the resident came into her room while staff were dressing her, and he was not told to leave the room, the complaint says.

Barbara Anderson: 559-441-6310, @beehealthwriter