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Seniors Face 'Deplorable Conditions' at Assisted Living Facility, Pols Say

By Leslie Albrecht | November 5, 2014 9:01am
 Officials slammed Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Dept. of Health for their silence on Prospect Park Residence.
Seniors Face 'Deplorable Conditions' at Assisted Living Facility, Pols Say
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PARK SLOPE — Frail seniors at a Park Slope assisted living facility are being forced to live in "deplorable conditions" and state officials are doing nothing to help them, families and elected officials are charging.

Hallway lights have been darkened, rooms aren't being cleaned, and the security desk isn't staffed at Prospect Park Residence, according to residents' family members and their attorneys.

Meanwhile, the State Department of Health, which oversees the facility, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have been silent on the seniors' plight, City Councilman Brad Lander said in a statement.

Lander, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer held a protest rally in front of the facility on Saturday to spotlight the situation.

"I am appalled that the Governor and the NYS Department of Health have failed to protect our seniors from exploitation and abuse," Lander said in a statement, adding that "neither the governor nor DOH have made a single public statement in support of the seniors."

The state DOH and Governor's office did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Advocates say the swiftly deteriorating conditions are a direct defiance of a judge's orders to maintain services at Prospect Park Residence, which is being closed so owner Haysha Deitsch can turn the building into high-end condos.

Management abruptly announced the closure in March and told the facility's 130 residents to leave.

Now just nine residents — including a Holocaust survivor — live in the facility. Family members say their loved ones are too frail to move. Those that remain are living under "draconian" conditions, one family member who didn't want to be named said.

"Despite the court's orders, Prospect Park Residence is still trying to force these residents out of their home," said Kevin M. Cremin of MFY Legal Services, one of the groups representing residents, in a statement. "It's time for the Department of Health to act to protect the health and safety of these vulnerable seniors."

Conditions at Prospect Park Residence have gone downhill since the closure was announced, but they've taken a steep dive in the last week, according to family members.

Most of the facility's common areas are locked or marked "out of service," the cleaning staff has been fired, and residents haven't been given flu shots, which usually happens at this time of year, according to family members.

They're battling Deitsch in court and a judge is expected to rule on Nov. 17 whether the case will go forward. On Nov. 12, there's a hearing on whether Deitsch is in contempt of court for failing to maintain services to residents. Family members of the elderly residents are hoping to pack the courtroom with supporters.

"Everyone agrees that what has happened at Prospect Park Residence is immoral. I don't understand why anyone can believe it is legal," said Joyce Singer, whose mother Alice lives at the facility, in a statement. "The Department of Health should be responsible for protecting our elderly loved ones. My mother is being evicted because of evil and greed."

A spokeswoman for Deitsch could not be reached immediately for comment.