Oakmont Senior Living appeals state move to revoke licenses for two Santa Rosa care homes

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Read all of the PD's fire coverage here

Oakmont Senior Living is appealing state officials’ move to revoke the company’s licenses for two Santa Rosa care homes where investigators say nearly 100 elderly residents were abandoned by staff members during the October firestorm.

Attorneys representing the Windsor-based company and the two people who were in charge of its Varenna and Villa Capri facilities during the fires requested a hearing before a state administrative law judge on Wednesday to legally protest regulators’ crackdown.

The company appears to be prepared to argue that the state action represents a regulatory overreach. The accusations leveled by the state Department of Social Services “do not state acts or omissions upon which the Department ... may proceed,” Oakmont Senior Living attorneys with Hanson Bridgett and Hooper Lundy & Bookman wrote in the notice of dissent requesting the hearing.

Attorneys from the two firms did not respond to an emailed request for comment Thursday.

It’s not clear when the hearing will happen. A spokesperson for the Department of Social Services, the agency seeking to revoke the licenses, said Thursday the case still needed to be sent to the state Office of Administrative Hearings to start the process.

The parties had 15 days to request a hearing after the social services department moved last Thursday to revoke the two licenses from the company and to impose lifetime license bans on two top Oakmont Senior Living administrators.

In their complaint, state investigators detailed troubling allegations of stranded residents at both Fountaingrove care homes, together licensed to house more than 400 people. At Villa Capri, a high-end, 72-bed assisted-living and memory-care facility destroyed by the Tubbs fire, more than 20 residents would have died had family, friends and first responders not stepped in, investigators found.

Regulators faulted staff at Varenna for violating state laws and abandoning about 80 people there without power, working elevators or means to escape.

The social services department complaint also cast specific blame on Deborah Smith and Nathan Condie, the respective executive directors of Villa Capri and Varenna during the firestorm. The state is seeking to revoke their administrator certificates and impose lifetime bans preventing them from ever working for another facility licensed by the department.

No residents of the two facilities died in the fires.

Late last month, Oakmont Senior Living lawyers announced in a Sonoma County courtroom that the company had agreed to settle a pair of lawsuits filed by 17 elderly residents and relatives of people who lived at Villa Capri and two plaintiffs at Varenna who alleged they were abandoned in the firestorm. Terms of the tentative agreement, including financial payouts, remain confidential, but the company agreed to take “additional measures” to address concerns among residents at its facilities across Northern California, according to lawyers handling the cases.

Oakmont Senior Living operates more than 20 elder care facilities in California, including four in Fountaingrove before the Tubbs fire. It is currently rebuilding Villa Capri.

You can reach Staff Writer J.D. Morris at 707-521-5337 or jd.morris@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @thejdmorris.

Read all of the PD's fire coverage here

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