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Inaccuracies on state nursing home site

 October 25, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, October 25th.

Inaccuracies and omissions on state site that tracks sex abuse complaints against nursing homes.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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Debit cards with inflation relief payments started going out yesterday.

Millions of Californians have already received the middle class tax refund via direct deposit.

Now the franchise tax board says the first batch of debit cards is being sent to people who filed their 2020 taxes with a paper form, received a golden state stimulus payment by check last year and whose last names start with letters “A” through “E.”

Those payments should go out to everyone in that group by November 5th.

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The results are out for this year’s state assessment tests, and the scores show a drop compared to those before the pandemic.

Two out of three California students did not meet state math standards and more than half did not meet English standards on state assessments taken this year.

The assessment is given to students in third through eighth grades and in 11th grade every spring.

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San Diego is seeing a spike in the Respiratory virus “RSV” among infants.

Rady Children’s hospital is reporting 300 cases just within the last couple weeks.

The virus typically causes cold or flu-like symptoms, but can be serious for kids with underlying health conditions.

Here’s Dr. Alice Pong with Rady’s:

“If they start having trouble breathing, if they’re not able to eat or feed, they are being very lethargic those are the signs that say you need to take your kid into the emergency room.”

Rady’s said increases started happening in the summer and our region likely hasn’t peaked yet.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

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The California Department of Public Health’s online page chronicling complaints against nursing homes is often called the agency’s “transparency website.”

But KPBS Investigative reporter Amita Sharma’s review of sexual abuse complaint tallies found inaccuracies and omissions.

On a February evening in 2019, a 48-year-old, disabled woman had settled in her room at San Diego’s Reo Vista Healthcare Center when a caregiver entered and allegedly raped her. The reported incident is documented by the California Department of Public Health under “enforcement actions”’ on its Cal Health Find website.   But you have to dig deep to find it. Fourth graph, first page,  highlight this sentence: Resident 1 reported to staff the following morning she had been raped and was the victim of sexual abuse. This in turn resulted in the resident being sent to the hospital for examination and testing by a sexual assault response team The main complaint page describes the attack as simply  substantiated employee-to-resident abuse.Resident Patient Client Abuse Employee to Resident Substantiated with deficiencies That CDPH page, which tallies complaints – is meant to help people find safe nursing homes. But instead, KPBS found mislabelling and errors  –  especially in sexual abuse complaints. And home in on this at line, the fourth from the top at the following link below: Resident/Patient/Client Abuse Resident to Resident Substantiated without deficiencies CDPH largely did not respond to multiple questions about how it documents the claims Lawyer Scott Fikes, who has represented nursing home sexual assault victims, believes the inaccuracies on CDPH’s complaint website are deliberate. “I view it as evidence that on an institutional level, [CDPH] is more concerned with obscuring actual information that suggests employees may be engaging in sexual assault than they are in providing that information to the public.” Fikes points to the Matthew Fluckiger case as an example. Fluckiger is a former caregiver who was convicted of multiple sex crimes against one woman and pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two others in East County nursing homes. Yet, CDPH’s complaint website does not classify any of those attacks as sexual in nature. Resident Patient Client Abuse Employee to Resident Substantiated with deficiencies The website also listed one of the cases as “unsubstantiated,” even though its own licensing division confirmed the incident and the page erroneously described Fluckiger as a resident. Resident Patient Client Abuse Resident to Resident Tony Chicotel, with  California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, says the mislabeling of the Fluckiger case is consistent with what he calls CDPH’s hostile indifference toward nursing home sexual abuse. He says the errors are inconsistent with a widely held view that CDPH’s complaint website is transparent.  “If a jury convicted this person as having done this heinous thing, beyond a reasonable doubt, and it's very inaccurately portrayed on the transparency website, then I think we need to go back to the board on what transparency means.” CDPH’s website lacks transparency in other ways. KPBS reviewed sexual abuse complaint lists for all 84 nursing homes in San Diego County on CDPH’s website. From 2019 through September 10, 2022, state regulators substantiated at least 24 sexual abuse cases at 18 local nursing homes. But the watchdog did not cite nursing homes with deficiencies in a majority of those cases. No deficiencies means no details are made public. Resident Patient Client Abuse Sexual Substantiated without deficiencies It’s the third complaint from the top at this link: Please focus on the fourth and fight categories that say sexual and then substantiated without deficiencies. San Diego patient safety advocate Marian Hollingsworth said the ultimate effect is no accountability. “.... This sends the message to the facility that no matter what we do, you know, we're going to be fine. We won't even have to create a care plan to just say how this is not going to happen again.” There’s more. CDPH often does not identify on its complaint website whether an accused perpetrator of sexual abuse at nursing homes is an employee or resident. Resident Patient Client Abuse Sexual Substantiated without deficiencies The complaint is above is the third complaint from the top at the link below. CDPH did respond to this issue in an email, saying “The allegation category does not differentiate between types of alleged abusers, as all cases of abuse are prioritized under the same level of severity.” But Chicotel argues the roles of accused abusers matter. “Resident on resident sexual assault, That’s terrible, it should never happen but it's usually sort of a flash event, a very short lived incident. Staff on resident sexual abuse is more sustained.” He says it’s also more predatory and damning of a facility’s quality of care.. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.

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Just about two weeks until the November midterm elections…and there is an aggressive outreach to students on college campuses.

KPBS Education reporter M.G. Perez has more.

Only about 20 percent of students at UC San Diego are registered to vote on election day. Student government leaders are working to improve that statistic and educate their classmates in the homestretch to November 8th. Daniel Soria is a UCSD Student Associate Vice President. “we’re trying to bridge the gap between student political initiatives and those addressed by our politicians here in the greater San Diego area. We’re also trying to make sure UCSD students know who’s running in the districts they live in.” Across the County, the number of mail-in ballots is down. The Registrar of Voters reports 1-hundred-48 thousand ballots have been received so far…compared to more than half a million ballots two weeks before the 2021 recall election. MGP KPBS News 

Speaking of district elections ……

San Diego’s City Council District 2 is among the more competitive races on the November ballot.

The district covers Clairemont, Mission Beach and Point Loma.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen looks at what's at stake in the district.

AB: For the past four years, retired physician Jen Campbell has represented District 2.  Among her accomplishments are regulations for AirBnbs and the larger market of short-term home rentals. JEN CAMPBELL SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCILMEMBER JC: We will close the chapter on the unregulated market that has vexed our city, our residents and the good faith hosts who wanted a clear set of guidelines to follow. AB: That was Campbell speaking at a council meeting last May. Her campaign declined KPBS's interview request. Campbell's willingness to take on controversial issues has earned her enemies. Her primary race was the most crowded on the city ballot. And while she came in first, she won less than 30% of the vote. LL: I don't feel that this district has a voice at City Hall. AB: Campbell's opponent is dentist and educator Linda Lukacs, who says Campbell has been inaccessible to her constituents. Lukacs also says public safety has gotten worse, and the city should be giving more money to the police department to update technology and pay officers more. LINDA LUKACS SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL D2 CANDIDATE LL: We have to make sure they're fully funded. We have to support them. We have to staff them. AB: Still, it's Campbell who's endorsed by the police officers union — a sign of the support she's built among City Hall institutions and interest groups. Lukacs is the only candidate in San Diego who's endorsed by the county's Republican Party. Her performance in November will be seen as a test for the GOP brand in the post-Trump era. Andrew Bowen, KPBS News.

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Coming up.... Dia De Los Muertos celebrations have begun across the county. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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Dia De Los Muertos - or Day of the Dead, is around the corner and celebrations are kicking off around the county.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne gives us a look at the festivities in Oceanside.

Oceanside welcomed visitors to their 21st annual Dia De Los Muertos festival on Sunday. Lowriders popped their trunks to display Dia De Los Muertos altars that celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed. “A lot of the things that we put in there are the things that they loved to eat, the music they liked to hear, the artist they liked while they were still alive, the things they like to drink,” That was Manuel Navarro, the President of the Por Siempre Car Club. “an old Mexican tradition and the new generation is gaining from all of this..” Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated on November 1 and 2 but some regions include celebrations on October 31 through November 6. TT KPBS News 

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Multiple local sports teams in playoffs brought San Diego sports fans to a frenzy over the past few weeks.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says even with recent eliminations, most fans are happy and are looking forward to the future.

What a ride it's been as a sports fan in San Diego. The Padres, Wave FC and San Diego Loyal were all in playoff runs at the same time … but on Sunday those stories came to a close without a championship. Even with the losses, local baseball and soccer fans say there’s lots to be happy about, including Padres superfan Ryan Cohen. “I was born in 2000 so I’ve literally never seen anything like this. And to be in the ballpark it felt like 45,000 versions of myself just going nuts and jumping off the wall.” While San Diego baseball and soccer fans will have to wait for more action until next spring, the region’s hockey team – the San Diego Gulls – is starting their season along with many of the county’s collegiate sports teams. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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Asian Story Theatre is partnering with two other companies to present a new musical called ‘Not Working’ in three intimate theater spaces.

The show looks at the impact COVID and the pandemic has had on people.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando spoke with Asian Story Theater co-founder Kent Brisby and performer Anabelle Ramos about creating “Not Working.”

That was Kent Brisby and Annabelle Ramos speaking with KPBS’s Beth Accomando.

“Not Working” debuts Friday at the new El Salon Theatre in San Ysidro.

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That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

The California Department of Public Health’s online page recording complaints against nursing homes is often called the agency’s “transparency website,” but a KPBS review of sexual abuse complaint tallies found inaccuracies and omissions. In other news, there is an aggressive outreach to students on San Diego college campuses ahead of the November midterm elections. Plus, Dia De Los Muertos festivities have kicked off around the county.