The Law Office of David Jamieson | Elder Abuse Lawyer

Modesto memory care center cited for numerous violations

Excerpted from a recent Modesto Bee article:

Modesto memory care center cited for numerous violations. Facility may lose license.

A state agency is taking legal action to revoke the license of a residential care facility in Modesto for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The California Department of Social Services (DSS) filed the action September 30 against Pacifica Senior Living Modesto, on St. Paul’s Way, accusing the facility of serious lapses in care and supervision of residents with dementia, as well as under-staffing, violation of personal rights and failure to notify families when residents fell and were injured.

The department is also seeking to revoke the administrator certificate of Deborah Lucas, a former facility director, for conduct in inimical to the health, morals and welfare of clients at the Pacifica center.

State inspections and complaint investigations discovered severe under-staffing in the Pacifica center, even before the COVID-19 pandemic made things challenging for long-term care facilities starting last year.

A November 2019 inspection found a severe shortage of staff caregivers in the center’s wings named for California destinations. The Yosemite wing had one caregiver for 16 residents; the Napa had 1 caregiver for 11 residents; Monterey had 1 for 13; and Central Valley had 1 for 15.

While there are no required staffing ratios in residential care, facilities are expected to have adequate staffing for supervision and care of residents. On multiple occasions the only staff member in the Napa wing was called away to help in other wings, leaving vulnerable residents unattended in Napa, the state complaint says.

On Nov. 26, 2019, the only staff member working in the Napa wing was absent when three residents got in a physical altercation, with hair pulling, a person thrown to the floor and kicking, the state complaint says.

In August, the state assessed a $10,000 civil penalty against Pacifica Senior Living based on allegations it failed to supervise a resident whose dementia symptoms included sexual aggression. According to the state, the lack of supervision resulted in the resident inappropriately touching another resident without consent.

The state complaint notes that many of the violations occurred when Lucas managed the facility from November 2019 to July 2021.

In November 2019, a person from an outside agency made a comment to a DSS inspector about the care and supervision at the facility. According to the state, Lucas told the person: “Keep your mouth shut. You are only here to assist your client.”

Lucas denied the outburst when contacted by the Modesto Bee on Wednesday. Lucas said she doesn’t think the allegations in the state complaint are valid but she’s not able to fight state government. “They go out with their investigators and make their determinations without the proper facts,” Lucas said. “We send in appeals and they deny the appeals. They get away with it because they are the state of California.”

In another allegation, a Department of Social Services investigation found that a Pacifica resident fell at least 10 times between July 31 and Sept. 6 in 2019. One of the falling incidents that August left him with a laceration to the head, requiring a visit to a hospital emergency room and staples to close the wound.

Pacifica did not update the man’s fall risk appraisal or implement measures to prevent him from falling, the state said. He fell again later that month, requiring another trip to the emergency room.

The state’s enforcement record for Pacifica Senior Living Modesto shows 43 Type A citations for violations and 36 Type B citations. The facility with capacity for 73 residents was licensed in 2010 and is part of a chain of senior care facilities across 13 states.

Type A citations are for more serious violations posing an immediate risk to the health, safety or personal rights of those in care. Type B are regulatory violations, such as faulty medical records or lack of staff training, that may put clients at risk if not corrected.

Jason Montiel, spokesman for the Department of Social Services, said the state action may result in license revocation, the facility being placed on conditional probation, or judge could dismiss the allegations. The facility owner may appeal and continue to operate the center during the legal process, he said.

Theresa Pettapiece said last week she took over as executive director of Pacifica Modesto two months ago. “I know some of the accusations by the state are things that happened previous to my taking over,” said Pettapiece, a former business office manager at Pacifica. “I believe we will be going on probation for a period of time…. I believe it can be resolved.”


Do you have a loved one in memory care? Are you thinking of memory care for a loved one? Here are some things you should ask about:

  • What is the ratio between caregivers and memory care residents?
  • How does the facility determine its caregiver to resident ratio?
  • Does the caregiver to resident ratio vary by shift? If so, what is the ratio on the day shift? Evening shift? Night shift?
  • How are the caregivers supervised?
  • What qualifications are the caregivers required to have?
  • What training does the facility provide to its caregivers?
  • What activities does the facility provide to its residents?
  • Does the facility have nurses on staff? How many? What are their qualifications? Are nurses on duty 24 hours a day?
  • What does the facility do to keep its residents safe?
  • What are the facility’s emergency policies and procedures?
  • Ask for a tour of the facility. Are the residents neat and clean? Do they look happy? Do they look active and engaged?
  • Ask to look at the facility’s most recent licensing survey.
  • Look at facility information on the California Department of Social Services website:

If you or a loved one has been injured in a nursing home or other care facility, contact the Law Office of David M. Jamieson for a consultation (209) 521-1269.