State forces closure of senior home in Tonawanda, despite lawsuit


TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) –The New York State Department of Health has closed down a Town of Tonawanda adult care facility, despite a lawsuit filed by the home’s owner to stay open.

The flower beds are overgrown with weeds, several first floor windows are boarded up, and the Oakwood Senior Living sign in front of the building has been removed.

State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker issued a 60-day emergency suspension of Oakwood Senior Living’s operating certificate in May, ordering the facility to move the residents to other assisted living facilities.

Oakwood is operated as Kenwell Gardens LLC, and the owner sued the State Health Department in Albany County Supreme Court, but the 60 days have passed, and the home on Delaware Avenue is closed.

Jeffrey Hammond, public information officer for the State Health Department issued a statement Friday that said, “The safety and well-being of assisted living residents is of paramount importance to the Department of Health.”

“As of Aug. 2, as required by a Commissioner’s Emergency Order,” Hammond went on to say, “all Oakwood residents have been placed in other facilities providing the appropriate levels of care.”  

Hammond added, “We do not comment on pending litigation.”  

When the emergency suspension was issued in May, Kenwell Gardens had been cited hundreds of times for violations of the state health laws, and was assessed fines amounting to thousands of dollars.

In the wake of the state’s emergency suspension Erie County Senior Services offered to help place residents of Kenwell Gardens in other facilities but Senior Services Commissioner David Shenk credited the county’s Mental Health Commissioner Michael Ranney with getting the work done.

“He offered assistance and was able to assistant in that process of helping those patients find new places to live.”

Shenk also urged Erie County residents in need of senior services or other special assistance to call the hotline at New York Connects, Erie County, and the number is 858-8526.

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