Owners of Arbor Terrace address deaths of 15 residents, say they do not plan to close

The owners of a southwest Atlanta assisted living facility say they too are in mourning following the death of 15 residents to COVID-19.

Judd Harper is the president and Mary Campbell Jenkins is Executive Vice President of the Arbor Company, which owns Arbor Terrace. The 21-year owners say the deaths have been really hard for them, too. 

"As you can imagine it has been devastating to us. individually, Mary Campbell and me. We are certainly grieving the loss and mourning with these families,"  Harper told FOX 5.

Some families told FOX 5 when they did a window or porch visit in mid-March, they noticed some employees did not have PPE equipment on. Harper denied that possibility.

SEE ALSO: Elected officials ask for help at facility where 15 died

"At no time were we without PPE.  We were incredibly happy to have plenty of PPE. We started planning for this in late February when we saw this potentially coming our way, " Harper insisted.

The owners say they sent out 14 different communications to resident families over the three weeks of this crisis. They also point to the Georgia National Guard cleaning the facility twice, once on April 7 and the other April 16, and they say they hired an outside cleaning company that sanitized the place. 

SEE ALSO: Community activist, elected officials threaten to protest Atlanta facility where 15 died

The owners told FOX 5 they learned of the first COVID-19 case on March 26 and had all residents tested on April 3.  They acknowledged and said they regret the 15 deaths.  They said the last two deaths happened on Easter Sunday. Lastly, they are offering to talk one on one with families who still have loved ones in the facility. cover

They concluded by thanking their dedicated staff who are risking their lives to come to work.

"We have gone to great efforts to take care of our staff here. They, like the residents, have fears and anxiety. We have done things for them like adding additional sick time,  covering the cost of child care with school closures, and helping them with essentials like grocery shopping benefits and we have increased our wages twice at Arbor Terrace so our staff will remain motivated.

They said they totally disagree with elected officials and community activists calls to close the facility during a news conference last Friday. 

SEE ALSO: Atlanta physician, wife both die of coronavirus at assisted living facility

"We know that frail seniors are not well served by being forced to move from their homes. Transitions in times of crisis do not help residents. We believe it is in the best interest of residents of Arbor Terrace to remain where they are with staff who knows and loves them," Mrs. Jenkins replied.

The owners said several residents called them over the weekend concerned about the requests. They said they plan to remain open. 

Best prevention measures against COVID-19:

• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds.

• If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

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