Oakland Woman's Family Sues Assisted Living Home In San Leandro

July 23rd, 2010

Oakland's Woman's Family Sues Assisted Living Home In San Leandro Tribune "

OAKLAND - Eventually, Frances Graham was going to die. She was 81 years old. Alzheimer's disease had claimed her memories. She used her eyes to communicate. Her children knew it was a matter of time until she passed on.

What shocked them and led to a wrongful-death lawsuit is how she died: bruised and battered, her eyes swollen shut, while doctors discovered gaping sores, some the size of a baseball, across her withered body.

The family is suing the assisted living home in San Leandro where Graham spent the last years of her life, her doctor and the nonprofit in charge of coordinating Graham's care - the Oakland-based Center for Elders Independence. The family claims Graham died because they put profits over safety.

Owners of the Andrew Elijah Guest Home blamed the Center for Elders Independence. The center, which handles services for thousands of seniors across the East Bay, said in a written statement in June that the agency is dedicated to promoting the autonomy, quality of life and the ability of individuals to live in their communities.

"We are confident that a complete investigation and thorough analysis will conclude that CEI has complied with our mission," the statement reads.

But according to the lawsuit and medical records reviewed by the Oakland Tribune, Graham was kept at the Andrew Elijah residential care home despite laws that require patients in her condition to be cared for by a skilled nursing staff.

Instead, she was all but invisible to oversight agencies formed to prevent what happened.

The California Department of Social Services, the California Department of Health Care Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid would not comment on Graham's case because of the lawsuit. The Department of Social Services, however, has launched an investigation.

The case is a chilling reminder that the number of seniors will double in the coming two decades while the regulation and oversight of senior care facilities - which are multiplying in number and responsibilities every year - lags far behind.

"My mother didn't deserve to die like that," said Clyde Graham. "That's the bottom line.