A Modesto elder-care facility’s residents and their families received letters recently notifying them that the business’s license is under review for a number of alleged violations, including understaffing and an inadequate food supply.
The residents of Sundial Palms Manor at 808 McHenry Ave. said the quality and amount of food they are served has been an issue for more than a year. They want conditions to improve but fear that if the state revokes the facility’s license, they will be forced to find a new home. Many have no family to help them move, and they lack the needed finances.
The California Department of Social Services served Sundial with a list of 10 violations on May 14. A document outlining the violations was not sent to residents and their families until earlier this month.
The document notes violations observed by state representatives during visits in early 2013 – mainly lack of food.
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“I can’t tell you how many times we have been out of bread,” said resident Gary Cole, 65. “In the United States, nobody is ever out of bread; even in the prisons, they have bread and water.”
He said the menu never changes: Three times a week they eat chicken thighs, never white meat; the vegetables consist mostly of broccoli stems; and the snack is always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, unless there is no bread.
Ed Bailey, 75, is diabetic. He said instead of getting a meal specific to the needs of a diabetic, he is served half of the same meal everyone else gets.
Failure to provide a nutritionist, modified food for diabetic residents and sufficient food for snacks and meals were listed among violations in the Social Services document.
Other complaints include rough treatment of one resident and unsanitary conditions.
The document also alleges there isn’t enough kitchen staff to prepare the food and keep the kitchen clean. Caretakers help in the kitchen, and the activities director helps with basic care, it said.
During one visit from the state, the document said, only five staff members were on duty to care for 92 residents. Just one caretaker provided for the needs of 45 residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, it said.
The facility’s owners, Hermingilda “Hilda” Manuel and her daughter Mary Manuel, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Medical technician Davina Bratton said she hasn’t seen either for more than a year. She said Hilda Manuel’s husband drops off food and paychecks, which sometimes are late.
Bratton said the first thing Hilda Manuel did when she purchased Sundial two years ago was cut everyone’s pay to $8 an hour. All of the employees before then made $9 or more. Bratton said many people left, and staffing levels fell.
Bratton said she and other employees complained to the state about the conditions at the facility.
The employees who remain, she said, are there because they are concerned about the fate of the residents. They hope someone will buy the facility and turn it around.
The Department of Social Services did not respond to requests for information about the allegations in its report, and did not provide a time frame for its review. A representative said only that the facility is still licensed, but didn’t say whether the Manuels’ administrative certificates were revoked, as indicated in the document.
Cole said he can’t afford to move. He said about $1,000 of his Social Security check goes to rent at Sundial, leaving him with just $80 a month.
“Nobody can live on $80 a month,” he said. “Everyone wants to go buy a candy bar or an ice cream or even a hamburger every once in a while, and you can’t do it. We can’t even buy our clothes, socks and personal hygiene stuff. All we’d like is a safe home with good food and something to look forward to.”