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State Closes 4 Homes for the Elderly After Complaints of Neglect

TIMES STAFF WRITER

State officials have shut four board-and-care facilities for the elderly here, and suspended the operator’s license, because of suspected neglect of aged clients.

The homes were shuttered after one elderly client was hospitalized with a urinary tract infection, a scratched cheek, a bruised left arm and advanced, seeping bedsores on her tailbone, heels, ankles and elbow, according to a temporary suspension order written by lawyers for the state Department of Social Services, which oversees homes for the elderly.

According to the state report, the woman arrived at the home April 15 with one bedsore. She was hospitalized May 18.

The suspension order also maintains that a second elderly client, who also was admitted to a facility on Doone Street in the Shadow Oaks neighborhood April 15, died at a hospital a week later. The operator, however, did not report the death to authorities as required by state law, the order said. State officials would not disclose the cause of death.

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The two incidents are both alleged to have occurred at the residential care center operated by Thousand Oaks resident Grazyna (Grace) Baran at 59 Doone St. The three other homes operated by Baran--at 51 Doone St., 1491 Kirk Ave. and 2739 Tennyson St.--were also closed June 4, said Karen Perkins , a spokeswoman for the state social services department.

Relatives, state officials and police descended on the neighborhood of single-family ranch houses June 4 to help close the homes and relocate the facilities’ remaining 19 residents. Some of those elderly residents have returned to their family homes. Others have been moved to other residential care facilities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

“Usually in these kind of cases, when you close one, the others are looked at as well,” Perkins said. “That decision was made in this case, because of the apparent severity of the neglect.”

Baran could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A lawyer for her family would not discuss the allegations.

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“We’re reviewing our options at this time,” said lawyer Mike Levin . “We could be subject to an administrative hearing, so I really don’t want to comment.”

If substantiated, the two incidents would violate half a dozen Health and Safety Code regulation sections, according to the state’s complaint.

Baran has until June 19 to respond to the state charges. An administrative hearing--at which Baran’s license could be permanently yanked--should be set within 30 days of that response.

“This is serious,” Perkins said. “As I understand it, those [bedsores] were a pretty serious thing to have.”

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Neighbors on Doone Street have complained about the three side-by-side facilities for about three years--not because they suspected abuse, but because their small block houses three of the homes operated by Baran and her relatives.

According to property records, all three facilities on Doone Street sit on properties owned by Ted and Halina Baranski, relatives of Baran’s. They share the same brick-red fencing, matching red and green lighted signs, separate sliding glass doors for each room and matching asparagus ferns at the doorways.

But only the two homes operated by Baran were closed last week, because the third adjoining facility is licensed to the Baranskis. As recently as 1995, licensing records show, one of the homes now operated by Baran was operated by the Baranskis.

Reached at her home, Halina Baranski said the allegations of abuse were not true, but she declined to discuss specifics, saying the facilities had nothing to do with her own.

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“You’ll have to talk to Grace, they’re her’s” she said.

The 25-year old neighborhood is appealing to residential care providers because of its large stock of reasonably priced, five- and six-bedroom single-story homes, said neighbor Paul Murray.

Murray has called authorities from Sacramento to Ventura to Thousand Oaks trying to figure out why his small tract is allowed to house so many of the facilities.

“The thing is, they really don’t have any rules, restrictions and regulations,” Murray said. “They’re governed by state law and the city has no authority over them whatsoever. They have no zoning requirements. They don’t even have to get a business license like foster homes, rehab homes and child-care centers.”

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Murray and other neighbors believe the motive for opening the privately-operated homes has more to do with money than care for the elderly.

“My personal opinion is that they’re in this for the money,” said another neighbor, who would not give her name, fearing retaliation. “It’s not a good atmosphere . . . People leave their parents there thinking they’re getting good care--but they’re not.”


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