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Care Home, Site of Slaying, Closed

January 16, 1986|CAROL McGRAW | Times Staff Writer

State officials have temporarily closed a Los Angeles adult community care home where there has been a slaying, a rape and several other acts of violence in the last year.

Blackburn Center, 1115 S. Alvarado St., is owned by David and Phyllis Blackburn and had been licensed by the state since 1981 to care for 113 adults, many of them mentally disordered, according to the state Department of Social Services.

"There has been an unusually high number of incidents at the home," said Kathleen Norris, department spokeswoman. In August, a woman resident was killed when her husband, also a resident, repeatedly knocked her head against the floor. In November, one resident was raped by another. The formal accusation by the Department of Social Services lists 11 incidents in the last four years, including two fights that resulted in residents being hospitalized and an incident in which a resident attacked a visitor, she said.

In addition, the home was cited for sloppy handling of medication and for failing to keep adequate records and to report injuries and hospitalization of residents. Building violations ranged from cockroach infestation to falling plaster, according to the state.

The license will be revoked permanently if the facility owners do not ask for an administrative hearing within two weeks, said Duane Phillips, a department attorney.

However, an attorney for the owners, Frederick Kling, said they not only will ask for an administrative hearing but also will file for a temporary restraining order in Sacramento to forbid the state from closing the facility until the outcome of that hearing is known.

"It was wrong to close the home down," Kling said. "The residents are perfectly happy."

Most of the residents were placed at the home by agencies such as the state Department of Corrections and the Los Angeles County Mental Health Department. Most receive federal disability income, which pays for room and board, officials said. The home, which is not a locked facility, provides room, board and medication supervision for those who are not self-sufficient. The Blackburns own three other homes in the area, including a Cuban refugee resettlement center. A staff member at the center, who did not want his name used, said, "We are doing the best we can. We are meeting the needs of the clients. If it wasn't for us a lot of them would be out on the street."

There were 90 residents at the facility last week. However, all but 20 had been moved to other centers as of Tuesday. Some of those remaining said they do not want to move.

Eugene Sparkman, 46, who has lived at the facility for four years, said he had been assaulted by other residents. "They jumped me twice, but I told them (the staff), and they handled it OK," Sparkman said. He said he does not want to move but, if forced to do so, would go to a downtown hotel.

Betty Cancio, 60, who has lived at the home for four years, said, "When I heard, it just broke my heart. I cried. This is just like my family."

Cancio, who is wheelchair-bound, said she has never been afraid to live at the facility. "This place is my security," she said. "My social worker found another place for me to live yesterday (Tuesday), but I refused. I told her I'd stay till they give me the boot."

There are about 63,000 community care centers in the the state. Last year the state revoked 226 licenses.

Times staff writer Edward J. Boyer contributed to this story.

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