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Patients 'Abused' and 'Neglected' at Sonoma Developmental Center—State Report

An investigative reporting group says a confidential Department of Public Health report indicates 'weak oversight.' Center could lose certification and millions in federal funding.

Sonoma Developmental Center—the state's largest facility for people with developmental disabilities—stands to lose millions in federal funding due to a penetrating and negative inspection report by the state, according to an investigative journalism group.

California Watch—founded by the Center for Investigative Reporting—says it has obtained a copy of a confidential inspection report prepared by the state Department of Public Health.

More than 500 people are housed at the complex, in a tiny community called Eldridge, in Sonoma County. Many have developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy.

According to California Watch, the reports states the facility "must immediately upgrade patient care and abuse investigations in order to keep its federal certification."

The watchdog group first reported last month that more than a dozen patients appeared to have that may have been used on their buttocks, backs, arms and legs.

The in-house police—the Office of Protective Services—was repeatedly criticized in the report for neglecting to conduct investigations, delaying them or going easy on the staff, according to the report.

The center's nursing practices also came under fire in the report, which noted "unsafe practices," according to the watchdog group.

Staff will work on retraining, the investigative report stated.

andrew August 24, 2012 at 04:08 AM
sounds like something the state would use as an excuse to sell some prime real estate in the beautiful sonoma valley.....
Kirsten Lindquist August 25, 2012 at 12:41 AM
The Sonoma Developmental Center has been a godsend to many families with relatives who have disabilities. It's terrible to learn that there has been apparent abuse by some workers there. However, it's very important to recognize that the vast majority of employees have been excellent caregivers---dedicated to the residents of SDC. It would be a shame on the federal government to cut funding. The state should step up and get rid of the employees responsible for the alleged abuse. The residents and many good workers who are there should not be the victims of funding cuts. This institution has had some controversy but for the most part it has served its residents well.
Dee Baucher August 27, 2012 at 06:08 AM
The SDC (like many state institutions) has seen its funding cut to untenable levels over the last decade. The residents deserve better, but our dysfunctional state government, unable to manage funds for almost all factions of our state, has attempted to abdicate its responsibilities to the most vulnerable of our population. Perhaps better management at SDC would translate into removal of the errant employees, and more oversight of the in-house (and apparently ineffective) police. This would go a long way to restoring stability at this institution, which has been proven over many decades to be a necessary and humane place to provide care for such severely compromised people.

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