Capitola nursing home reported not just for quality of care, but infrastructure – Santa Cruz Sentinel

CAPITOLA — On Sunday, the Sentinel detailed that loved ones of Capitola skilled nursing facility Pacific Coast Manor have sought out the publication twice over to condemn the care, or lack thereof, that staff provides.

But Roger, a former maintenance assistant at the facility who asked his last name not be revealed, said there was one thing worse than how residents were treated — the conditions they are forced to live in.

“The first five years I worked there, the roof leaked every winter,” said Roger, who didn’t return after recovering from an injury. “They got away with it for a few years when it hardly rained at all, but there were always buckets in the attic. I bet you there are still buckets.”

In addition to buckets in the attic, there was also mold and rats, Roger alleges.

Roger said that when the facility did replace the ceiling, they did it without a permit and got caught. As that ordeal was being dealt with, he and his staff had to continue replacing sheetrock in the dining room. Someday, he thinks, the sheetrock will fall on everyone present at the wrong moment.

“There’s something going on in that whole industry where people look the other way,” he said.

Roger said that the electrical wiring in the building didn’t quite check out either.

“If an electrical inspector went up there they’d have a field day. (Goetzl) had us put in extra outlets,” he said of former executive director of Pacific Coast Manor Marise Goetzl.

Additionally, three of the seven heaters in the building were broken, Roger claimed, leading to some rooms being freezing cold and others being 90 degrees or warmer. Arlene Pieper Stine, a resident who died in February, experienced the chillier side, her daughter Kathie Pieper recalled. Her normal apparel of a hat and gloves, used to compensate for a lack of body fat, proved to be no help.

STC L PCM2 0705 1
Arlene Pieper Stine, a resident who passed away during the COVID-19 pandemic, sits in the Pacific Coast Manor “chatterbox,” an option offered to families for visitation in order to keep vulnerable seniors safer. Pieper Stine was one of the residents in a room without heat, freezing with an already slow circulation last year, her daughter Kathie Pieper said. (Courtesy of Kathie Pieper)

Roger said he and his colleagues in maintenance continued to push for new heaters, begging administrators to fix the situation before potential carbon monoxide poisoning became a real concern for both staff and residents. They shut down the heaters and ran the other four without future plans for repair, he alleged.

“That’s how Covenant (Care) works. I told the powers that be and they said, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll start getting on it.’ Finally (Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) or somebody came in and found out and told Lisa Pearson, (Goetzl’s) boss, and told her the heaters weren’t working and she acted like she had never heard that before.”

In the courtyard, landscaping drainage is so problematic that when it rains the rooms nearby allegedly flood. Sewer connections are open, which is illegal, he added..

“We’d have to take the cement cover off the four-inch pipe… it opens to the sewer,” Roger said. “We would put old screen doors on top of that patio in that area to keep leaves from going in the sewer.”

Roger alleged his superiors were most interested in the aesthetics of the infrastructure, which is why all of the new beds and other furnishings that came in were given to the rehabilitation patients on the short-term stay side of the facility.

“The long-term people got nothing, they really got the s— end of the stick,” he said. “That’s the part that gets me, too. The long-term people, you get to know them. I would fix some lady’s TV, the remote (battery) would go out or whatever and it was really easy, simple stuff but they would be so appreciative.”

The facility was cited in 2019 and 2020 for its physical environment, with inspectors previously noting that it was without heat. The Cal Health Find database has since updated, with results formerly described as “One deficiency cited without substantiation” to “No deficiencies cited, federal investigation.” Entries no longer describe the complaint in detail.

No explanation for the revamp was given by contacted California Department of Public Health representatives.