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‘They need to be shut down:’ Oregon Dept. of Human Services confirms investigation into Juniper Canyon Living

(Update: adding video, comment from more former employees)

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The Oregon Department of Human Services, through its Office of Aging and People with Disabilities, confirmed to NewsChannel 21 it is investigating abuse allegations and licensing complaints at Juniper Canyon Living in Redmond.

More than 40 former and current staff members have shared concerns with Newschannel 21 about the care of patients at the residential care facility.

A former employee said, "I personally would never put any of my family or friends in that building. I would say they need to be shut down. I would say if you have a family member there, I would find a different housing. It is not safe. Whatever they've got going on there is not right. "

The Oregon Department Of Human Services communicated with NewsChannel 21 via email, saying the state agency is unable to comment about ongoing investigations.

The Department of Human Services did share information about complaints received since the facility opened in September of 2021. There have been 111 allegations of abuse, 30 of which are still under investigation. Seventeen of these allegations were substantiated but are still in due process.

Crystal Mendoza, once a med tech supervisor, is one of the few former employees who agreed to be identified. She said, "I'm just shocked it's taking this long to open an investigation when its been numerous times called out on."

In regard to the allegations, another employee who asked to remain anonymous said, "There was this man we had cared for, and he was very particular on the people who cared for him. He was laying in his bed and urine and feces because he chose the people he wanted to care for him. And the people, because he would have such high behaviors, nobody would go in there and change him. And at the point that we would get a hold of him, we would literally wipe the skin off of his body. It was that bad."

Another former employee who wanted their identity protected out of fear of retaliation stated, "I can tell you the first morning I went in, I pretty much had to change every bed-bound person because of how much filth was just there. I've been around lots of bedsores, and that's not how you take care of it. But they said, this person's going to pass away anyways. We're just going to let it be."

NewsChannel 21 has obtained documents showing ODHS sent Juniper Canyon Living a letter stating they must submit a safety plan and also demonstrate 60 days of consistent compliance with staffing requirements. According to current staff, the state agency investigating has started reaching out to individual employees specifically asking about medication distribution and possible violations of patients' rights.

A former employee noted, "We have an obligation as care staff to protect our residents. And so does that company, to protect the people they serve and their employees."

Mendoza added, "It's actually for the residents who are there and have passed away. That's why I'm here."

About 20 current or former employees told KTVZ they're joining together to file a class-action lawsuit. 

NewsChannel 21 reported Tuesday the 108-unit residential care facility was being investigated by Redmond Police and the state, after more than two-dozen current and former employees communicated with NewsChannel 21 about their concerns.

Article Topic Follows: Redmond

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Matthew Draxton

Matthew Draxton is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Matthew here.


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