State officials block couple from buying nursing home

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California state officials blocked Prema and Antony Thekkeks from buying the 160-bed Menlo Park Place Health Care Center, the latest salvo in a long battle between the couple and the Service Employees International Union. The union had been lobbying the state for such action, alleging the couple runs their other nine homes poorly.

The Department of Health Services said it based its decision on the couples' history of violations: 23 over the past two years, including two deaths and at least $27,500 in state fines.  Proper care "would have prevented the deaths,'' said Norma Arceo, a department spokeswoman. Arceo said the decision had nothing to do with the SEIU.

Prema Thekkek said she and her husband are targets of the union. "All of my buildings are very good,'' she said. "We provide excellent service.''

In the past six years, California has blocked 24 out of 521 license applications. There are 1,371 nursing homes in California.

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