CASTRO VALLEY -- More than a dozen people were left to fend for themselves after their caregivers left their senior care facility Thursday, an Alameda County sheriff's spokesman said Saturday.
According to Sgt. J.D. Nelson, the state Department of Social Services on Thursday shut down Valley Springs Manor, located in the 17000 block of Apricot Way. The unknown number of staff members that worked at the facility allegedly picked up and left the premises after the shutdown was ordered, and only a few employees -- a janitor, a cook and one caregiver -- remained behind without pay to try to care for at least 14 patients who live there. Originally, it is thought that 25 people were living at the 33-licensed bed facility Thursday, and sheriff's deputies are working to determine where the patients went once the employees left.
Nelson said the patients found Saturday range from amputees to mental health patients of all ages, and some of those left behind were bedridden, meaning that they were without proper care or hygiene for more than 48 hours.
"We have no idea what happened here," Nelson said outside the facility Saturday. "These patients had no way to fend for themselves, but out of the goodness of their hearts, three people stayed to try to care for (the patients)."
Neighbors living near the facility said Saturday that while it was not surprising Valley Springs Manor was shut down, they were shocked to hear that those employed there simply left so many without proper care.
Fearing retribution from the facility's owner, neighbors declined to identify themselves but all said that over the past 20-plus years that they lived on Apricot Way, the facility had its ups and downs -- the peak of the worst being 10 years ago when the state threatened to shut it down if the owners did not make serious changes.
For example, they said, the state had ordered that mentally ill patients could no longer live there -- the facility would be strictly meant for the elderly.
"It would be like night of the living dead out there," one neighbor said. "You'd look outside and all these people would be wandering around the parking lot (in front of the home) in the dark."
With the threat of cleaning up or closing up, neighbors said Valley Springs Manor did improve for a time.
About two months ago, neighbors said administrators for the facility changed, and things began to go downhill sharply.
"I'd come home, (Alameda County Sheriff) deputies would be here, I'd go somewhere, the paramedics would be there," another neighbor said. "It was constant, every day, and I knew something was wrong."
According to Nelson, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department was not notified that the state had ordered the facility to shut down, and that a search warrant for the property would be served sometime late Saturday or early Sunday.
Sheriff's deputies are trying to reach families whose loved ones lived at Valley Springs Manor; all patients that were rescued Saturday have since been relocated to other area facilities.
"All (14 rescued) patients are, thankfully, safe," Nelson said. "That is one potential tragedy that has been avoided."
Calls to the Department of Social Services were not returned Saturday. Calls to the facility were answered by a sheriff's deputy.
Check back for updates.
Follow Katie Nelson at Twitter.com/katienelson210.