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Valley senior citizen says cash and other items stolen during nursing home stay

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75-year-old Eleanor Elster rests in her room at a Palm Springs convalescent home after a recent one month stay at ManorCare in Palm Desert where she says "somehow" about $1,800 cash, a checkbook, a watch and other items were taken from her.

She says she made the claim to management at ManorCare when she left there in late December but says they "didn't do enough" to respond to her claim.

"I feel violated, I feel disrespected, unheard," said Elster.

The retired social worker is dealing with a number of health issues while trying to find resolution, as her husband spends most of his time at their home Indio.

She asked News Channel 3 for help.

"I'm stunned too. I can't believe that a facilty like ManorCare would just blow off finding someone's possessions," said Elster.

After speaking with Elster, we went to ManorCare in Palm Desert to get their response to Elster's allegations.

The manager at the facilty would not talk on camera.

But, over the phone, corporate spokesperson Kelly Kessler said they were aware of Elster's claim and taking steps to "resolve her situation".

"It feels like older people tend to be viewed upon as in the way, stupid, and just kind of dispensable," said Elster.

Elster filed a report with a Riverside County Sheriff's investigator, and the department is treating the case as a "civil matter".

When asked about theft reports at ManorCare, the department's public information officer wrote "we are unaware of any thefts at ManorCare".

"I want my stuff back. I want all my stuff, my money, my address book, my clothes. That's all I want," said Elster.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Kessler provided this additional response to Elster's claim:

"Recently a patient’s belongings were inadvertently discarded when the patient was discharged to the hospital. We apologized for this oversight and have been working with the patient on reimbursement for the items on the inventory list.

ManorCare has a long-standing history of delivering high quality care to our patients. As a respected member of the health care community we take any issue seriously and will continue to work with our staff to avoid such a situation in the future."

Gene Kennedy, a Public Information Officer for the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services also provided this information to News Channel 3 for senior citizens who encounter a similar experience:

"While DPSS can not comment on this specific case, we recommend seniors who believe they have been victims of theft in nursing facilities to cross report their claim to law enforcement, Community Care Licensing and Adult Protective Services (APS). For APS, these reports can be made to our C.A.R.E. program by calling this hotline - 800-491-7123.

C.A.R.E. stands for Curtailing Abuse Related to the Elderly (C.A.R.E.). It’s a program which addresses elder and dependent adult abuse through advocacy, education training, and coordination of interagency collaboration. The C.A.R.E. program conducts anti-fraud presentations in a variety of settings including care facilities and other places seniors gather to teach seniors how to recognize, prevent, and report the many types of fraud and abuse. The C.A.R.E. Team advises seniors to keep valuables locked up, avoid carrying large amounts of cash and work with a trusted family member who can act as a second set of eyes on important financial decisions."

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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