Four caretakers whose neglect led to the death of a Palm Springs retirement home resident were each sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation.
Edna Malagar Pelen, 62, of Thousand Palms, Andronico Malagar Pelen, 30, of Thousand Palms, Josie Rose Dolajan Ramos, 25, of Palm Springs, and Librada Dondonayos Paje, 71, of Cathedral City, pleaded guilty to elder abuse charges stemming from the Nov. 25, 2015, death of 78-year-old Frank Jurkovich, who lived at the Palm Springs Retirement Home for about six months.
The defendants were arrested last June at the retirement facility at 627 Highland Drive, but were released shortly afterward on $250,000 bail.
Jurkovich was hospitalized at Desert Regional Medical Center two days prior to his death, after a paramedic went to the retirement home to take him to 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 prepared 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, Foster wrote.
One of the causes of his death was identified as sepsis, likely caused by “multiple pressure ulcers,” according to the hospital. A social worker with Desert Regional stated that Jurkovich’s condition indicated that the retirement home staff had not moved him for a prolonged period of time, according to the declaration.
While the county coroner’s office listed “hypertensive cardiovascular disease” as the cause of death, four doctors and nurses at Desert Regional said 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 alleged 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 said 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.