When the Valley Springs Manor, a residential home in Castor Valley California, had its license to operate revoked on Thursday October 24, 2013, the state inspectors were supposed to insure a transition plan to a new home for the nineteen older adults, many of whom were either bedridden or suffering with dementia. Valley Springs had previously been cited for safety violations, under staffing, lost medical records, and not having enough food, or access to prescribed medication, for the clients.
When an inspector came by the next day and found that the facility had still not closed its doors or found new homes for their residents, she promptly fined the manor $3,800 for not being in compliance, gave her final report to the cook on the premises, and left for the weekend.
All but two of the staff members at Valley Springs Manor had left on Thursday. But after arriving at work Friday, and surveying the situation, Maurice Rowland and his childhood friend Miguel Alvarez knew they had to stay.
Rowland, the cook who had only been working there for three months and hadn’t been paid in over a month, and Alvarez, the custodian who had just been hired three weeks earlier and had not been paid at all, understood that this was a critical situation as there was no way the nineteen residents could possibly care for themselves. Who knew if life-saving help would come in time?
For two days, Rowland and Alvarez ministered to the nineteen vulnerable and fragile older adults. They cooked and cleaned for the residents, bathed and toileted the residents, found and administered the proper medications to the residents, and kept the residents calm and safe.
On Saturday afternoon Rowland had to make calls to 911because two clients appeared to be ill and running temperatures. The dispatcher who took the call then contacted Alameda County sheriff deputies to investigate, and by the evening the evacuation of the patients had begun.
As a result of the Valley Springs Manor nightmare the Residential Care for the Elderly Reform Act of 2014 was enacted, protecting the health, safety, and security of residents living in residential facilities.
The cook and the custodian were in the right place at the right time. Of course so were several other people, including people who had far more training and education in care of the elderly, who left.
The takeaway? When you’re talking about heroes, what will always matter more than what’s on a resume is what’s in a heart.
Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez are heroes you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.