The operators of a luxury Westside care facility for dementia patients were charged Tuesday with felony elder abuse and other criminal charges allegedly related to the deaths of an employee and thirteen residents during the first days of the pandemic.
Silverado Beverly Place, near the Fairfax district, specializes in caring for older residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and was the site of a COVID-19 outbreak in early March 2020.
Thirteen residents and one employee have died during the outbreak, while 45 employees and 60 residents have been infected with the virus, according to the Los Angeles district attorney’s office. The facility’s operators were sued in civil court by the families of three residents and the employee who died. The facility was the subject of a 2020 Times investigation.
The facility was meant to be closed to outside visitors, prosecutors said, when it admitted a patient from a New York psychiatric unit. Silverado Beverly Place’s own protocols required that it not admit anyone from a “high-risk” area like New York City, which at the time was considered a COVID-19 epicenter.
Prosecutors claim the patient was not tested for COVID-19 when he was admitted and showed symptoms of the virus the next morning. But after they tested positive, they were not quarantined, according to the criminal charges.
The facility’s management failed to block visitors who traveled domestically or internationally within 14 days to areas where cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, prosecutors allege.
“These careless decisions created conditions that needlessly exposed Silverado staff and residents to serious injury and, tragically, death,” dist. Lawyer George Gascón said in a statement when his office announced the charges.
Three managers were charged with felony elder endangerment and five felony rape causing death. Loren Bernard Shook, Jason Michael Russo and Kimberly Cheryl Butrum were charged along with the Irvine-based company, Silverado Senior Management, Inc.
Prosecutors say the New York patient was admitted to Silverado Beverly Place for financial considerations.
An email to Silverado’s senior management seeking comment on the charges was not immediately returned.
Gascón also read out the names of the 14 people who have died during the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility during a press conference in downtown Los Angeles.
They are Nurse Brittany Bruner-Ringo, Elizabeth Cohen, Joseph Manduke, Catherine Apothaker, Jake Khorsandi, Albert Sarnoff, Dolores Sarnoff, Myrna Frank, Frank Piumetti, Jay Tedeman, Luba Paz, Kaye Kiddoo, Richard Herman Michael Horn.
Bruner-Ringo told her mother that the newly admitted patient was showing signs of illness: profuse sweating, a “productive” cough and a fever approaching 103 degrees, her mother told The Times.
“I said, ‘Those are definitely troublesome,’” recalled Kim Bruner-Ringo, a veteran nurse in Oklahoma City.
The patient was so ill that Bruner-Ringo called 911 for an ambulance, but it was too late. In the days and weeks that followed, the virus would spread throughout the facility.
Bruner-Ringo stopped breathing on April 20, 2020, in the intensive care unit at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, according to her family. She was 32 years old.
“I prayed every day that Brittany would be able to tell her own story,” her sister Breanna Hurd said.
Los Angeles Times investigative reporter Harriet Ryan contributed to this story.