Atria Park of San Mateo was fined nearly $40,000 by the California Department of Social Services, and could get its license revoked
By Austin Turner
The San Mateo senior-living facility where two residents died after accidentally being served dishwashing fluid is now facing a hefty fine and the threat of losing its elderly care residency license, according to reports filed by the California Department of Social Services.
Trudy Maxwell and Peter Schroder Jr., both 93 and residents of Atria Park of San Mateo, died last year after they allegedly drank toxic dishwashing fluid mistakenly served as cranberry juice. The facility employee that is accused of pouring the fluid into a beverage container, 35-year-old Alisia Rivera Mendoza of East Palo Alto, was charged April 11 with two counts of felony involuntary manslaughter and three counts of felony elder abuse.
A 94-year-old man at an Atria-run home in Walnut Creek died last year after he mistakenly drank toxic cleaning fluid that had been left in an unlocked storage container. A 54-year-old employee was charged with one count of elder abuse in that case.
Now, the facility itself is facing legal action from the State of California. The state’s Department of Social Services website lists that revocation action is pending as of March 7. A facility evaluations report filed on March 21 says that the department’s accusations supporting the pending license revocation and de-certification have been distributed to residents, the people responsible for them, and a local ombudsman.
Another facility evaluation report was filed on April 14, this time directly citing Atria Park for the August poisoning incident.
According to the report, the department found that employees weren’t properly trained on how to handle potentially dangerous chemicals. The department issued a $39,500 fine to the facility — $15,000 per death as a result of the incident and $10,000 based on the additional resident that was hospitalized as a result; $500 was already paid after an immediate fine was issued during a February visit.
The department has visited Atria Park of San Mateo five times in the first four months of 2023. It visited the facility seven times in 2022, with six of those visits coming after the deadly Aug. 28 incident.
When approached for comment, a spokesperson for Atria Senior Living provided the following statement:
“We disagree with the Department of Social Services’ decision and have filed a notice of contest to appeal that decision. We are in discussions with the Department about resolution of that appeal. During this process, Atria Park of San Mateo will remain open, and our employees continue to be focused on providing a safe and welcoming environment for all our residents.
“This incident has been a tragedy. It is in no way indicative of the
quality care our staff provide each and every day. We remain deeply
saddened by the deaths of our residents, and our hearts are with their
families and loved ones. As always, we are focused on the safety,
health, and well-being of all our residents.”