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KPBS Staff
An undated illustration of an elderly person in a wheelchair at a nursing home.

KPBS investigations reveal abuse, negligence at San Diego area senior care facilities

KPBS in recent years has put the spotlight on the treatment and care of some of San Diego County’s most vulnerable people: residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in March 2020, KPBS found startlingly high case numbers, poor infection control and staffing shortages in a number of local facilities.

These discoveries spurred us to launch further investigations, most notably into how state regulators investigate complaints of poor care and abuse in nursing homes.

What we found was shocking. An accused sexual predator was allowed to continue to work inside several East County nursing homes even as the state investigated him for violating women in his care. Following our stories, police arrested and charged a former caregiver we had profiled. In March 2022, a jury convicted him of sexually assaulting a nursing home resident.

One facility that has stood out throughout our reporting is Avocado Post Acute in El Cajon. Our most recent stories revealed that the 256-bed home has received more than 620 complaints since 2019, which is four times the state average for facilities with 100 or more beds.

Among the complaints substantiated by state investigators were physical abuse, sexual assaults and one case in which a man was allegedly strangled by his roommate.

Federal regulators planned to cut funding for Avocado this spring, citing “abuse, exploitation and poor care,” but then quickly rescinded the order, stating the nursing home was in “substantial compliance.” This decision shocked advocates for nursing home residents. They say the findings of state investigators reveal an unsafe place for people to live.

Explore our coverage

As an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.
What issues need to be exposed in your community? Who should be called to account? When and how will long-festering problems be solved?