CALABASAS (CBS) — State investigators were trying to determine how a 94-year-old woman ended up in a freezer at a Southern California retirement home, the same upscale facility where a former caregiver was convicted of torture and elder abuse, a report said Saturday.
The California Department of Social Services was investigating the Oct. 28 incident, when the employees of Silverado Senior Living could not find one of their 60 residents, nearly all of whom suffer from dementia, the Los Angeles Times said in a story posted on its website.
State records said that after a search of the grounds, the woman was found standing in the home’s walk-in freezer.
Senior vice president of Silverado Mark Mostow said the woman was hospitalized but back safe at the home.
He gave few other details, citing privacy restrictions, and would not say how long the woman was in the freezer or talk about her specific injuries.
Mostow told the Times that “If an individual were in a walk-in freezer like that, they would only be in for 10 or 15 minutes safely.” He said a person “couldn’t last more than 30 minutes” in the 5-degree freezer.
Residents of the home — which can cost $70,000 a year and up for residents — are supposed to be supervised at all times, and the doors to the kitchen and its freezer are supposed to remain locked.
Mostow said the lock leading into the kitchen didn’t work, and the padlock on the freezer door was hooked, but not open.
He said the facility disciplines workers who don’t follow policy.
“In any situation we would absolutely investigate, and appropriate discipline would be carried out. So there’s always an investigation and always appropriate recourse,” Mostow said.
Silverado reported the incident to the Department of Social Services as required. Agency spokesman Michael Weston said action against facilities can range from fines to closure.
The same home saw former caregiver Cesar Ulloa, 21, sentenced to life in prison earlier this year for taunting and body slamming seniors. He was convicted of one count of torture and seven counts of elder abuse. Few residents had the mental capacity to report the abuse.
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