SACRAMENTO – Elder abuse prevention legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that was inspired by the abandonment of seniors at two Santa Rosa assisted living centers during the 2017 wildfires passed the Senate today by unanimous vote.
Senate Bill 314 adds “abandonment” to the list of offenses eligible for enhanced civil remedies under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act.
“We must always meet our obligations to our seniors, especially in extreme emergencies,” Sen. Dodd said. “Leaving them to fend for themselves is unacceptable. This bill penalizes caretakers who shirk their responsibilities and encourages more people to do the right thing.”
About 150,000 California elders live in assisted living facilities. Many are not able to protect themselves during disasters due to dementia, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses and frail health. Their safety is entirely in the hands of facility owners, administrators and caregivers.
Department of Social Services officials last year placed the two Santa Rosa assisted living facilities on probation after investigations found they abandoned residents during the North Bay wildfires. At least 20 frail, elderly residents would have died had family members not arrived to rescue them before one of the facilities burned to the ground.
SB 314 heads next to the Assembly.
Beth Eurotas-Steffy of Santa Rosa is among the bill’s supporters. Her 85-year-old mother, Alice, was among those rescued from one of the facilities by other residents’ family members after being discovered there as the Tubbs fire approached
“She and about 20 other residents, all requiring walkers and wheelchairs, were abandoned when the staff left as the fire approached,” Eurotas-Steffy said. “They survived due to the bravery and sacrifice of family members who came to check on their parents.”
Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.