Care Home Cited for Death, Injury
A Riverside County care facility for developmentally disabled children was cited for alleged abuse by the state health department Wednesday after an investigation of a resident’s death in 2004.
Baker House in Pedley received “A” and “AA,” citations, the latter being the most severe under state law, for the death of a resident and the injury of another, both on May 5, 2004. The citations carry a combined fine of $35,000.
Baker House employee Kimiko Hebert allegedly beat Marissa Chavez, 10, to death while on night duty May 4.
A 9-year-old boy, also a resident of Baker House, was found with facial injuries May 5. Hebert, who was the only employee on night duty, will stand trial on a murder charge this summer in Riverside County Superior Court.
“The facility failed to train their staff properly,” said Norma Arceo, spokeswoman for the California Department of Health Services.
Since the investigation, Baker House, which is still operating under a valid license, has revamped its abuse-reporting system to meet state standards, Arceo said.
In the last fiscal year, there were 14 “AA” citations statewide for deaths in similar care facilities and 83 “A” citations for injuries, Arceo said.
Baker House, which opened in March 1996, houses six residents ages 10 to 18.
The facility is one of nine Riverside County homes owned by Special Care Children’s Homes Inc., a 39-year-old Mira Loma company.
Its 54 residents are children of all ages with severe disabilities, including birth defects, drug-related defects and cerebral palsy. About half of the residents are wards of the court.
It will be a struggle for the company to pay the state fine, owner and chief financial officer Jim Danielsen said. “We can’t put these kids out in the street,” he said.
Danielsen said he and other employees were shocked at Hebert’s alleged behavior.
Hebert had worked at Baker House for four years, and had a reputation for kindness to the residents.
“This is a lady [who would] come in and stay over on her own time and braid the kids’ hair,” Danielsen said.
Hebert called 911 at 3:55 a.m. on May 5, 2004, after noticing that the girl was having trouble breathing.
Marissa, who had cerebral palsy and was mentally retarded, was taken to a hospital where she died, the health department said.
According to a Riverside County sheriff’s homicide report that was detailed in the state investigation, Hebert said she hit Marissa after she became frustrated with the girl for repeatedly putting her own hand in her mouth.
Hebert told officers she grabbed Marissa by the shoulders, shook her and then dropped her on her backside. Hebert then punched Marissa in the chest and stomach, according to the report.
An autopsy determined that Marissa died of “laceration of liver due to blunt impact to torso.”
The autopsy also noted hemorrhaging in the pancreas and blunt impacts to the head, according to the investigation.
Hebert had passed a criminal background check and completed 50 hours of training and 100 hours of on-site supervision, Danielsen said.