Assisted living facility closed due to code violations

City: 'The Sunshine Lodge' racked up numerous violations, putting residents at risk

Author: Tim Gerber , Reporter, tgerber@ksat.com
Published On: Mar 14 2013 09:03:56 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 14 2013 09:50:00 PM CDT
SAN ANTONIO -

An assisted living facility on the south side has been forced to close after racking up several city code violations.

Rod Sanchez, Director of Development Services, said city inspectors found several health and safety violations at The Sunshine Lodge that put the residents in immediate danger.

Sanchez said a team of code enforcement officers went to the facility, located in the 2700 Block of Pleasanton Road, last Friday to perform an inspection.

According to Sanchez, the owner had applied to operate a boarding home under the city's new ordinance, which triggered the inspection.

Officers found a broken sprinkler system, fire alarms that didn't work, unsanitary issues in the kitchen and numerous electrical problems that could have potentially sparked a fire.

"You have electrical issues combined with fire issues so, yes, we felt that what we saw electrically it could possibly cause some kind of spark," Sanchez said. "You don't have a good sprinkler system, you don't have an alarm system. We saw egress issues, doors that were hard to open, so a combination of all those things made it a very dangerous situation where we felt we had to vacate it."

After giving the owner a chance to correct the issues over the weekend, the city returned for another inspection this week. Finding more problems, they ordered the facility closed and the 33 residents were moved out.

Those residents were taken to a nearby church gymnasium where they spent the night Wednesday. On Thursday, workers with the state's Adult Protective Services were trying to place the residents in other facilities.

"We want to keep them together," said Nellie Watson, the owner of The Sunshine Lodge. "They've been with us a long time, we're like their family. Most of them have no family. Those that do have family, the families don't interact with them."

Watson said she's been in business for 25 years, caring for residents at the current location for the past 15 years. She is licensed by the state of Texas and was inspected last year. According to documents available online, the state inspection found no violations.

Watson said her clients are being cared for and she hopes to make the repairs necessary to reopen. Those repairs could cost thousands of dollars and she admits she needs help.

"I want to fix my place. I'm going to do whatever I have to do to fix it," Watson said. "If there's anyone out here that would like to help us please come forward, we're just not sure what to do."

Sanchez said the city received 31 applications from providers wanting to be permitted as group homes. The city is currently in the process of inspecting those other facilities but so far, only The Sunshine Lodge had enough violations to warrant being closed.

While this is only the first facility to be shuttered under the new ordinance, Sanchez said this is exactly why it was passed.

"I think because city council took courage and passed this ordinance we're saving people's lives," Sanchez said.

If Watson is able to bring the facility up to code, she will be allowed to reopen her boarding home.

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.