Cleaning chemical mistaken as juice, served to residents at San Mateo care facility

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The investigation revealed new information about the accidental poisoning at Atria Park of San Mateo, an assisted living facility. The incident killed one and sent two more to the hospital. 

According to sources, a security video shows a worker using the chemical Ecolab 66, a heavy-duty bathroom cleaner and disinfectant, to clean. The chemical was in a large container and the worker decided to put some into a smaller jug. 

However, the smaller jug the worker chose is the same type the facility used to serve fruit juice. Another worker confused the containers and served the chemical jug instead to the residents. 

A 93-year-old woman and a longtime facility resident died, and her family members all want answers. 

“This is an egregious mistake, and it’s not one you’re going to see too often,” said Niall McCarthy, who is not associated with the case but is an attorney specializing in elder abuse in the county.

“Under California law, the definition of neglect of a senior citizen is failing to protect them from safety hazards,” he said. “So not only here did they fail to protect them from safety hazards, they created the safety hazard.”

Another elder abuse attorney, Kathryn Stebner said she had filed two elder abuse lawsuits against the facility. According to Stebner, one of those cases is a resident dying due to negligence. 

“It didn’t come in a juice container if it’s poison, so I actually have a hard time believing that,” she said.

Police continue to investigate the case.