State bans caregiver who served poison mushrooms in Loomis

Published: Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 - 7:34 am

The caregiver who unwittingly served poisonous mushrooms to patients at a Loomis home for the elderly will be barred from working at any such facilities in the future, state regulators have decided.

Four of the five residents who ate poisonous mushrooms foraged from outdoors and served by the caregiver, Lilia Tirdea, at Gold Age Villa earlier this month have died. Tirdea and one other person were sickened, but both are recovering, officials said.

An investigation by the state Department of Social Services has determined that the poisonings were accidental, according to a report issued Thursday afternoon. Nevertheless, regional manager Donna Teutschel wrote in a letter to Tirdea, "your continued or future contact with clients or presence in any child care or residential care facility" licensed by the state "constitutes a threat to the health and safety" of clients.

"Therefore, you must immediately remove yourself from any contact with clients and not be physically present in any facility."

Neither Tirdea nor the home's owner, Raisa Olselsky, could be reached for comment Thursday. Olselsky's lawyer, James Hazen, described his client as "very, very distraught about the whole situation."

Olselsky was not at the home at the time the mushrooms were served, the state's report said, adding that the owner had warned Tirdea to never serve food that had not been purchased from a grocery store.

Tirdea foraged the mushrooms, likely the "death cap" variety commonly seen in Northern California, from the home's yard and served them in a gravy for dinner on Nov. 6, the report said.

Gold Age Villa residents who ate the highly toxic mushrooms began getting sick the following day.

Those who died have been identified as Barbara Lopes, 87; Teresa Olesniewicz, 73; Frank Warren Blodgett, 90; and Dorothy Mary Hart, 92.

Initial symptoms of poisoning by the mushrooms, which contain a toxin that can cause permanent liver and kidney damage, include severe diarrhea and vomiting leading to dehydration.

More than 1,700 cases of poisonous mushroom ingestion were reported in California in 2009 and 2010. Ten people were seriously poisoned, and two died.

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Read more articles by Cynthia Hubert

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