Caretakers At Palm Springs Retirement Home Arrested for Man’s Death

Four caretakers at a Palm Springs retirement home were arrested Thursday for alleged neglect that led to the death of a resident more than two years ago.

Edna Malagar Pelen, 61, of Thousand Palms, Andronico Malagar Pelen, 29, of Thousand Palms, Josie Rose Dolajan Ramos, 25, of Palm Springs, and Librada Dondonayos Paje, 70, of Cathedral City, are each charged with elder abuse in connection with the Nov. 25, 2015 death of 78-year-old Frank Jurkovich, who lived at the Palm Springs Retirement Home for about six months prior to his death.

The caretakers were taken into custody Thursday at the retirement facility at 627 Highland Drive.

Jurkovich was hospitalized two days prior to his death, when a paramedic went to the retirement home to transport him for a routine medical appointment, and found him “on a camping style mattress on the floor of his room in poor condition,” according to an arrest warrant declaration written by Special Agent Daniel Foster of the Department of Justice.

The paramedic reported that Jurkovich was disoriented and malnourished, with “blood, vomit and fecal matter” around his mouth.

Jurkovich died at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs two days later, with one of the causes of death identified as sepsis, likely caused by “multiple pressure ulcers” situated near his lower back, according to the hospital.

While the county coroner’s office listed “hypertensive cardiovascular disease” as his cause of death, four doctors and nurses at Desert Regional said that sepsis was a contributing factor, and that the complication was likely caused by the multiple ulcers, which the retirement home caretakers were not qualified to treat, according to Foster’s declaration.

The agent alleges that the caretakers “failed to provide adequate care to Jurkovich and housed him in conditions which caused Jurkovich to develop severe pressure ulcers and infections.” He also accuses the caretakers of failing to take note of Jurkovich’s deteriorating physical condition and failing to move him to a hospital or other more qualified medical facility.

The four defendants are each being held at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning in lieu of $250,000 bail and are expected to appear in court early next week, according to county jail records.

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