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Abuse reports spark overhaul at Sonoma Developmental Center

The Sonoma Developmental Center faces the loss of millions in federal funds and revocation of its license to treat 290 seriously disabled patients after California public health officials said they uncovered major problems at the troubled institution, including instances of patient abuse.

The problems earlier forced the ouster of the center's executive director and clinical director, and led to several staff members being disciplined or fired.

On Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health announced it is seeking to decertify the center's intermediate care unit -- which treats more than half of the center's total population of 517 -- by Jan. 4 if immediate actions aren't taken to address the problems.

The state rarely takes such action, which in other cases has resulted in health care facilities shutting down.

Terri Delgadillo, director of the state Department of Developmental Services, said in a written statement Wednesday that addressing problems at the Sonoma Developmental Center is her "top priority."

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