Arizona carehome operators react to indictment of Filipino couple in death of senior client

by Fleur Magbanua-Mansur, ABS-CBN News

Chandler, Arizona — Joseph and Lolita Somera were arrested last august 15th for allegedly causing the death of 69-year-old Jon Rager, who was under their care at happy homes assisted living in Chandler, Arizona.

The Filipino couple, age 56, have been charged with one count of vulnerable adult abuse, a class 3 felony.

The indictment alleged that the carehome operators and managers recklessly endangered the health of Rager, who died last year — after two days of living in the facility without air conditioning in extreme heat.

Filipino carehome owner Ariel Carlos has known the Someras for 15 years.

“I don’t know enough about the case I should say that first. But I think something could have been done to prevent not having air conditioning for a couple of days.”

Carlos and other Filipino carehome operators said tragedies could be prevented with a disaster plan in place.

“Air conditioning technicians can be really hard to get to your home right away because they are very busy during the summertime. Taking that into account if they can’t come for a few hours, we have gone to home depot and bought portable air conditioning units just so we can cool the house.”

“Being an assisted living owner or manager – it’s very important to know those steps and plans because we have a big responsibility in taking care of these people,” says Tess Baylon.

According to the Department of Health environmental standards, temperatures in facilities must be between 70 degrees and 84 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.

The temp inside Rager’s home during his death – was 100 degrees.

“The elderly population are very susceptible to heat stroke. Some of these people are immobile, bedridden they don’t communicate,” said Dr. Collins Villamor.

“We need to pay close attention to make sure they are not placed in this type of environments where they’re susceptible to heat stroke.”

The Someras pleaded not guilty in court last Friday. Oral arguments are set on September 6 at the Maricopa County superior court.  

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