Lawsuits, Investigations and Violations Inside Orinda’s Troubled Nursing Home

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(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
The Orinda Care Center, located at 11 Altarinda Rd, has spent the past two years in the headlines for accusations of negligence and alleged shortcomings in maintenance of a safe facility.

    The Orinda Care Center, a 47-bed nursing home community located at 11 Altarinda Rd., has come under fire in the past two years for both a serious COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 and allegations of elder abuse, neglect, understaffing and sexual assault, which prompted an investigation completed in June 2020, from the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office.
    The nursing home currently holds an active license, valid until January 2023.
    Orinda Care Center is a for-profit, corporate-owned care facility operated by ReNew Health Group, whose Chief Executive Officer Crystal Solorzano, has been accused of providing fraudulent college transcripts to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) while applying for licensure. CDPH’s Nursing Home Administrator Program decided to revoke her license in May 2019.
    Solorzano appealed the revocation but dropped her appeal during the summer of 2021.
    As of April 2022, Solorzano is listed on the CDPH’s license and certification page as a certified nursing assistant, employable until December 2022.
    Orinda Care Center was investigated by the CDPH in April 2020, for COVID-19 infection control noncompliance, with the department findings showing that complaints regarding the noncompliance were “substantiated” and that the care facility had violated regulatory requirements.
    “During the pandemic, we enhanced our infection control protocols in a number of ways, including restricting non-medically necessary visits to our facility, screening employees and residents for symptoms and high temperatures, isolating persons who show signs or symptoms, providing all necessary PPE to staff members, and avoiding group activities where possible,” ReNew Health Group spokesperson Dan Kramer said in March.
    “We are in regular communication with local and state health authorities,” Kramer added. “We will continue to follow the guidance they have provided us to limit risk to residents and staff.”
    The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports that Orinda Care Center’s rate of complaints and reported incidents in 2021was three times the statewide average.
    A finding from an April 2021 CDPH recertification survey visit (https://bit.ly/3va08Bt) found the care facility “failed to ensure medications and biologicals were stored properly” and violated safe and sanitary food preparation guidelines in its kitchen on the premises. U.S. News & World Report (https://bit.ly/3xiRaom) has given the Orinda Care Center a below-average short term rehabilitation rating for post-acute care of patients recovering from a hospital stay. Further, it reports the percentage of short-term residents that needed to visit an emergency room during their stay is higher than the state’s average. The facility also administers antipsychotic medications to 24.4% of its residents, whereas the California average use of the drugs within comparable facilities stands at 16.6%.
    The last three years of operation has seen the nursing home pay over $98,000 in federal fines and face two lawsuits – one from a former patient and one from the relatives of a since-deceased former patient. A common thread in both cases is the accusation of negligence on behalf of the nursing home.
    Assembly Bill 1502, lead-authored by California State Assemblymembers Albert Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), aims to prevent unfit nursing home conditions by requiring operators first to obtain a license from the State Department of Public Health. AB 1502 would specify the requirements to apply for a skilled nursing facility license, including suitability, and would also require CDPH to post all license applications on the Internet, with an allowance for public comment.
    If an applicant or associated person or entity fails to apply for and obtain a license for a CDPH nursing home operation, or receives a denial from the department, immediate action as imposed by the new bill would be taken in the form of banning new admissions, conducting daily onsite monitor visits and the suspension of all Medi-Cal payments to the facility by the State Department of Health Care Services.
    As of Feb. 1, AB 1502, known as the Skilled Nursing Facility Ownership and Management Reform Act of 2022, was read in the Senate for the first time and sent to the Committee on Rules for assignment.
    Orinda Care Center, LLC holds a two-of-five-star rating on Medicare’s website. An overall nursing home rating, as provided by Medicare, is based on a home’s performance in health inspections, staffing and quality measures. The government website advises that star ratings “aren’t a substitute for visiting the nursing home” and recommends using the rating in conjunction with other information when deciding on a facility.
    “At Orinda Care Center, our primary concern is, and has always been, the health and well-being of our residents and staff,” said Kramer.
 
Andrea Madison can be reached at drea.madison.05@gmail.com.

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