Investigative Unit

State Regulators Fine, Move to Revoke License of San Mateo Senior Facility

Atria Park of San Mateo staff accidentally served three dementia patients caustic cleaning fluid, killing two of the residents.

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The state is taking serious action against a Bay Area senior care facility where staff accidentally poisoned three dementia patients, NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit has learned.

California’s Department of Social Services has filed legal action to revoke Atria Park of San Mateo’s facility license.

This state action comes months after the two of those three elderly dementia patients died after the Aug. 27 incident at the care facility on Norfolk Street.

One resident, Trudy Maxwell, 93, died shortly after she drank the cleaner. Another resident survived, but a third, Peter Schroder Jr., also 93, died 11 days later.

According to a newly-released facility evaluation, at least three Atria staff members were involved in transferring a cleaning chemical from a five-gallon container into a beverage pitcher.

A fourth employee accidentally took the pitcher and served the chemical to dementia patients, thinking it was fruit juice, accidentally killing two residents.

According to the state’s report, Atria didn’t train these employees on how to transfer detergent or how to handle chemicals, even though they were assigned to kitchen duties.

On March 14, the state issued a fine to Atria Park of San Mateo for $39,500 for the two residents’ deaths and injuring a third.

The California Department of Social Services' website currently shows the agency has filed legal action to revoke the care home’s facility license.

A legal complaint the agency provided to NBC Bay Area confirms the action is a result of the poisonings.

Atria Senior Living released the following statement Wednesday evening:

“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.”

The state's legal complaint also sheds light on new accusations against the facility. According the state regulators, Atria Park of San Mateo's maintenance director falsely accused a resident of serving fellow dementia patients the cleaning fluid. The maintenance director reported this false information to both a fire captain and a police officer.

In April, another Atria employee, 35-year-old Alisia Rivera Mendoza of East Palo Alto, was criminally charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and three counts of elder abuse stemming from the Aug. 27 incident.

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