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Four Units Decertified at Troubled Sonoma Developmental Center

Problems are more significant at Corcoran, Lathrop, Bemis and Smith, the Department of Developmental Services states in a letter to Centers for Medicaid and Medicare.

Ongoing deficiencies and allegations of abuse at have led a state mental health organization to voluntarily withdraw certification for four living units at the troubled Sonoma Developmental Center.

The move was effective Friday following notification by the state Department of Developmental Services to the national Centers for Medicaid and Medicare. 

The Sonoma Developmental Center is one of just five facilities in the state the serve severely developmentally disabled people. 

The withdrawal will allow the center to maintain certification and receive federal funding for the remaining residences, according to a news release.

The action is in response to a federal notice in December from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare that initiated a decertification action for the Sonoma program.

SDC has two government actions under way — the federal certification issue and the state licensing action.

"Today, DDS withdrew its appeal of the federal certification of the ICF-DD while we work on the issues at SDC," Nancy Lungren, assistant director for communications, told Patch by email.

"Our appeal with the state Department of Public Health is still in place regarding the state licensing action," she said.

In December, Department of Health threatened to revoke the primary license of the facility, after allegations of abuse of 12 patients there in 2011. Reports included rape that allegedly led to a pregnancy, reported use of a Taser on residents and inadequate or non-existent investigation of abuse cases by the on-site police agency at the facility.

“The well-being of our residents at Sonoma Developmental Center is a top priority and the department has made critical improvements in the Intermediate Care Facility, but significant work still needs to be done,” DDS Director Terri Delgadillo stated in the news release. “The department is committed to correcting the problems on all ICF living units and will expeditiously pursue recertification of the four residences as the reforms are implemented.”

DDS has already made numerous changes in the leadership and culture at the Sonoma center, she said. Both the executive director and the clinical director have been removed. Several other employees have been terminated or disciplined, and investigations continue which could result in additional actions, the news release stated.

In addition to these steps, DDS has hired additional direct care staff and has established a Corrective Action and Quality Assurance Team, consisting of state and national experts, who have been reviewing the entire SDC system to implement immediate and ongoing improvements.

Frequent unannounced onsite reviews, focused mock surveys, additional reporting requirements, and the provision of technical assistance and training are also key components of the plan of correction.

Delgadillo said DDS will continue to work with state and federal partners on long-term solutions to regain certification.

“We will continue to work with families, the Legislature, staff and their union representatives on further actions that will be taken to ensure that residents are receiving the care they deserve.”

Kirsten Lindquist January 20, 2013 at 03:34 AM
How about a story on the state's decision to transfer patients to SDC...after the closure of another facility. Have heard the transferred patients created the problems at SDC....and that the staff at SDC had not been trained to handle the new issues presented by the newer patients. Lets look at the state's responsibility to care for these folks...and the budget cuts that have contributed to the conditions at SDC.

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