East Memphis assisted living facility cited by inspectors before COVID-19 outbreak

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The East Memphis assisted living facility at the center of a coronavirus outbreak has been cited by inspectors before for some disturbing violations, records show.

Shelby County Health officials on Wednesday identified Carriage Court of Memphis as the facility where they say five residents and one staff member tested positive for the virus.

State files show the facility has 125 beds and started operating in 1998. But recently, it’s been troubled. Records show the facility is already on probation and has faced three sizable fines in as many years.

In 2018, Tennessee Department of Health officials reported issues, including a “failure to evacuate” residents in a timely manner. That resulted in a $1,000 fine.

Then, a year later, state inspectors reported conditions worsened inside Carriage Court of Memphis, with continuing problems with emergency evacuations. They said a resident who fell was left on the floor during a fire drill, and “the facility failed to have an adequate number of keys” to evacuate a resident from a locked room. The state fined the facility again, this time for $6,000, plus probation.

And then, less than two months ago, when state inspectors returned, they found more concerning conditions.

Staff members didn’t follow up on an emergency alarm and thus “did not provide for the safety of residents on the secured unit,” inspectors said.

And then there’s this, from early February — the coronavirus outbreak had already started in other countries, but at that time, state officials say “the facility failed to maintain a clean and sanitary kitchen.”

The state fined the facility $5,000.

WREG contacted Carriage Court management multiple times Wednesday to find out their response to these citations, as well as how they’re dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

A receptionist said they were extremely busy and couldn’t give a timetable for when we’d hear back.

The Shelby County Health Department said Wednesday they’d been pushing the facility to self-identify and get the word out to the public, but in the end, Carriage Court chose not to, and health officials had to release it instead.

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