Staff members at two California nursing homes allegedly abandoned seniors during wildfire

September 8, 2018 1:57 AM

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SAN FRANCISCO—As a firestorm descended on the Northern California city of Santa Rosa in October, staff members at two nursing homes abandoned their residents, many of them unable to walk and suffering from memory problems, according to a legal complaint filed by the California Department of Social Services.

While none of the residents died or were injured in the fire, the Department of Social Services accused the staff of being unprepared and leaving before everyone was taken to safety.

In one nursing home, Villa Capri, the complaint described staff members who had never participated in a fire drill, did not know the evacuation plan, could not find flashlights or batteries when the power went out and did not know where to find the keys to a bus that could have helped in the evacuation. One staff member searched in vain for the keys for an hour, the legal complaint said.

The last staff members left the facility sometime after 3 a.m. — leaving family members and emergency medical workers to take charge of evacuating the remaining 20 residents.

“If these family members and emergency responders had not evacuated Villa Capri residents, more than 20 residents would have perished when Villa Capri burned to the ground after all staff left the facility,” said the complaint, which was filed Tuesday.


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