Governor Signs Sen. Dodd’s Elder Abandonment Bill in to Law
SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed 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.
“This new law stands for the principle that we must always meet our obligations to seniors, especially in times of emergencies,” Sen. Dodd said. “Simply leaving them to fend for themselves in the face of disaster is unacceptable. I thank Gov. Newsom for supporting this measure which will encourage caretakers to do the right thing.”
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. It was signed by the governor late Wednesday after passing both houses with overwhelming support.
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.
“Thank you to Sen. Dodd for working tirelessly to get SB 314 passed to make sure assisted living management companies such as Oakmont Senior Living will be held accountable when their negligence results in abandonment,” said Beth Eurotas-Steffy of Santa Rosa, whose 86-year-old mother, Alice, was among those rescued from one of the facilities in the 2017 Tubbs fire.
“The staff at elder-care facilities need to step up at times of crisis," said Mike Arias, president of Consumer Attorneys of California. "This new law will give them extra motivation to do the right thing."
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.