LOOMIS — A California woman who served poisonous mushrooms to residents of an elder-care home has been barred for life from working in such facilities after four people died, state officials said Thursday.
An investigation by the California Department of Social Services found that Lilia Tirdea, the home's caretaker, failed to apply state standards by serving "foraged mushrooms" to five residents.
Tirdea "constitutes a threat to the health and safety of the clients," the report said.
Four people died, and two fell ill, including Tirdea, after eating mushroom gravy in early November, the report said. Investigators previously referred to the dish as soup.
The report cleared the owner of Gold Age Villa, Raisa Oselsky, who will be allowed to keep her license.
Investigators found that Oselsky had properly trained Tirdea and told her to serve only store-bought food to residents at the home near Sacramento.
Tirdea told investigators that she did not know the mushrooms she picked in the backyard of the small elder care home were poisonous.
"This is a very tragic accident, however, after investigating the department felt this action was necessary to protect the health and safety of individuals who live in licensed care facilities," said Michael Weston, a spokesman for social services.
Weston said Oselsky called Tirdea when residents began feeling ill about 12 hours after eating the dish and learned she had picked mushrooms and made a meal.
"The licensee was not present at the time and had no knowledge that the mushrooms were served to the residents until the following day after residents began to fall ill," the report said.
The four people who died have been identified as Dorothy Mary Hart, 92; Barbara Lopes, 86; Teresa Olesniewicz, 73; and Frank Warren Blodgett, 90.
The name of the other person who became ill has not been released. The person is recuperating and has moved from the hospital back to Gold Age Villa, the report said.
Tirdea could not immediately be reached for comment. The order issued Wednesday bars her from all state licensed care facilities, including child care.
The report says she still is ill and hasn't returned to work since the incident. She has 15 days to appeal the ban.