Diagnosis: Eviction

An out-of-state company mismanaged its Mill Valley nursing home, then closed it down, casting dozens of elderly patients to the winds. Within months, 10 of them were dead.

With this latest move she finds that she's losing some of the resilience that got her through life on two continents, through two marriages, through failing health and narrowing possibilities. "The older you get, the more settled you become," she explains. "Some of it is remembering what I had, and what I don't have. It's not being able to do what I want to do; needing help for everything. I used to travel and do everything by myself, and all of a sudden I can't. And then, with this, it feels like I'm being tossed out the door again."

"So I do crosswords. I watch TV," she says.
At around noon, after a lunch of chicken and vegetables -- during which she graciously, charmingly insists that a guest accept a cup of sherbet -- a forlorn wail begins to waft through the air: "Looouuuiiieee. Looouuuiiieee."

"Her husband used to live here, and his name was Louie, and he died. It's very sad," Williams says. "That screaming kicks in in the afternoon and goes all night. Did you see the old picture One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? It's kind of like that."

Williams doesn't speak of Lenox Healthcare Corp. with the sort of vehement scorn some family members, health officials, and elderly advocates do. But she does say that allowing conditions at the Mill Valley Healthcare Center to become so bad they were life-threatening, and humiliating, then attempting to yank fragile, poor people from their homes, is "something I'd never do to another person.

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