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Former Sonoma Developmental Center employee to lead troubled institution

A longtime employee at Sonoma Developmental Center has come out of retirement to lead the troubled state institution.

The State Department of Developmental Services announced Wednesday that Karen Faria had been hired as the new executive director at the Eldridge facility, home to 507 developmentally disabled people.

Faria began her career at the SDC in 1985, retired as center's clinical director in 2005, and has recently been living in New Hampshire.

"With her extensive experience, Ms. Faria will be able to provide the strong leadership needed to improve services and ensure that residents are living in a healthy and safe environment," said DDS Director Terri Delgadillo.

A state licensing review in December revealed 57 deficiencies at center, including four cases of "immediate jeopardy" to patient health and safety, including instances of patient abuse. The center has since lost federal funding for 112 seriously disabled patients, or $1.37 million a month, funds the state is now providing.

The state has taken what it calls "aggressive actions" to fix the problems at the facility, including having the California Highway Patrol oversee the law enforcement, establishing an independent onsite monitor, and enhanced staff training.

Faria starts April 1 with an annual salary of $108,564, said Nancy Lungren, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Developmental Services.


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