Activists Raise Alarm for Senior Safety, Deliver Fire Extinguishers to Atria Willow Park

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Assisted living facility has history of fire citations, failures in emergency evacuations.

Are our local seniors safe at Atria Senior Living? That’s what members of the Campaign to Improve Assisted Living and SEIU Healthcare were asking after learning that Atria’s Willow Park facility in Tyler has been cited numerous times for placing residents in situations that make their safe evacuation in an emergency difficult. To raise the alarm over safety problems, members of the Campaign delivered fire extinguishers to the facility on Sunday, Dec. 9. They also requested a meeting with the Executive Director to discuss the facility’s fire evacuation problems.

Atria operates two facilities in Tyler: Atria Willow Park and Atria Copeland. In violation of state regulations, Atria Willow Park has a consistent pattern of retaining seniors who could not quickly evacuate the facility in case of an emergency. Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) regulators cited the facility in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 for housing residents who would be at risk, including those who:

  • Lived on the third floor, but could not walk.
  • Required the assistance of 2 staff people to transfer out of a chair.
  • Could not make it to a central area on the ground floor within 13 minutes if needed.
  • Would not have been able to self-evacuate in an emergency.

According to public records from the DADS, instead of immediately fixing these safety issues, the facility asked for a waiver from state requirements to allow them to continue housing these seniors and collecting rent payments. For several, Atria failed to correct the hazardous conditions and the state rejected the request.

The Campaign has submitted a letter to the Fire Marshal requesting action to protect seniors in Tyler.

In addition to emergency safety failures, Atria’s Tyler facilities have been cited by DADS for medication errors and unsanitary conditions in the kitchen that increased the risk for food-borne illness. Atria Copeland was also fined $600 by state regulators for refusing to produce internal documents on incidents in which residents were harmed.

These problems are systemic to Atria Senor Living nationwide, and the company has been fined more than 1,000 times for serious patient care problems.

Atria Senior Living is one of the largest senior living providers in the country, with more than 140 facilities in 27 states. They are headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, and owned by an investment fund affiliated with Lazard, a large Wall Street firm that manages more than $140 billion globally.

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The Campaign to Improve Assisted Living is an SEIU Healthcare campaign that unites assisted living caregivers with residents, family members, and senior advocates to stand for quality services for seniors and a voice on the job for caregivers. More than one million healthcare workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and in-home care have united in SEIU Healthcare for quality care and quality jobs.

Jennifer Kelly, 213-401-3321

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Jennifer Kelly
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