LETTERS: ‘No Protection for Ayako Ozawa,’ Former Cypress House Resident

Note: This letter was sent in response to Ben Hamamoto’s “JASEB to Stop Operating Homes for Japanese American Seniors” article, Feb. 4, 2010.

From 2000 to 2004, Ayako Ozawa was a resident at Cypress House. On Feb. 18, 2004, 4:30 p.m., Koji and Betty Ozawa, son and daughter-in-law, found Ayako in excruciating pain with severe bruises and two broken arms outstretched on the dining room table. The workers denied any knowledge of her injury. Within 30 to 40 minutes, all workers disappeared (“split”) from the scene (either to Masa Fukuizumi’s taiko class or home). She died two weeks later.

When Ayako was seen in the Hayward Kaiser ER, the doctors notified the police and Adult Protective Services because the extent of the injuries signaled elder abuse.

Because there was no open communications, we served Japanese American Services of the East Bay (JASEB) and Cyprus House a Petition for Relief and Permitting Discovery. Student workers were about to return to Japan before their visas expired.

Through police reports following her “accident” and interviews of the students, day workers and Masa Fukuizumi (scheduled by Laura Takeuchi, JASEB executive director) conducted by private investigator Edmund Oasa, we uncovered disturbing, contradictory accounts of Ayako’s condition before and after the mysterious accident. (These audio tapes, video tapes, police reports and transcripts are available.)

There was no protection for Ayako Ozawa. Since Cypress House was not licensed, the Adult Protective Services could not sanction Cypress House. There was no ombudsman to investigate complaints. Richard Langford, Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) licensing evaluator, stated, “The existing exemption clause at Cypress House has been a risk and inherent danger without supervision and without control.”

Pam Gil, CCLD licensing program manager, informed us that Cypress House was cited twice in 2004, in March and November. We believe that Ayako Ozawa’s case is a perfect example of why unlicensed arrangements like Cypress House should be prohibited. A resident has no protection at Cypress House because there are no written contracts, nor is record keeping required

Betty Kurihara Ozawa,
retired RN, graduate of UCSF School of Nursing, 1954
San Francisco

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