State revokes licenses of former Sundial residential care facility owners

The state revoked the licenses of a mother and daughter who formerly operated Sundial Palms Assisted Living in Modesto and two troubled residential care facilities in the Bay Area.

But one of them has a chance to work in care facilities again.

In a settlement, Herminigilda “Hilda” Manuel accepted an absolute lifetime ban from owning or managing any residential care facility in California. The state also revoked the license of her daughter, Mary Julleah Manuel, for life, but she can apply for reinstatement or a reduced penalty after a year.

Last year, the state Department of Social Services cited the owner of Sundial Palms on McHenry Avenue for violations including understaffing, not providing sufficient food to residents, not providing modified meals for diabetics and failing to supervise seniors in the memory care unit. Numerous violations also were documented at the Manuels’ Eden Manor facility in Oakland and Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley, where about 15 residents were abandoned after a state-ordered shutdown in October.

The Manuels were scheduled for an appeal hearing in June but agreed to settle the allegations with the Department of Social Services.

A group that fights for better care in assisted living facilities disagreed with the June 19 settlement for Mary Manuel. “I was very disappointed to learn that Mary would be eligible to have anything to do with residents of an assisted living or community care facility in less than a year,” said Anthony Chicotel, staff attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

“After what happened at Valley Springs, where 15 to 20 residents with varying levels of disability were totally abandoned, I have no faith she can be a caregiver in the future,” Chicotel said. “I think the state would be reluctant to grant a license (because of attention from media and advocacy groups), but we don’t know for sure.”

Mary Manuel was the assistant general manager of Valley Springs. The state revoked her administrator’s certificate, and will prohibit her from working in a care facility, unless she successfully petitions the Department of Social Services for reinstatement.

Michael Weston, a spokesman for state social services, said the decision does not mean Mary Manuel could be operating a facility a year from now. She would need to file a detailed application showing she was rehabilitated and convince the department she would not violate the same regulations.

Weston said he had no information on how many caregivers have been reinstated after their licenses were revoked. “I would say it would be a rare occurrence,” he said.

San Francisco attorney Joel Goldman, who represented the Manuels, said Hilda Manuel agreed to settle the state’s accusation on terms that preclude her from applying for a license again. Mary Manuel agreed not to contest the allegations and accepted a default judgment from the state. A person accepting a default judgment is permitted by law to reapply for a license after a period of time, Goldman explained.

“That does not mean the department has to grant the license,” the attorney said. With the agreement, the state agreed to waive civil penalties and monitoring fees.

After the state took action against the Manuels last year, an interim manager operated Sundial Palms in Modesto until a new owner took over in April. The name of the 96-unit facility was changed to Stacie’s Chalet Modesto; the new ownership says it has no connection to the Manuels.

Chicotel said a reform bill would give the state more authority to revoke a facility owner’s license for life in cases of abandonment.