Closed kitchen reopens after a week at Aurora retirement home due to health concerns

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AURORA | A kitchen at a retirement home in Aurora was closed for more than a week after health inspectors said it did not meet minimum requirements. The kitchen reopened July 29. Inspectors would not say what requirements the kitchen at Canterbury Gardens failed to meet.

Randy Kuykendall, health facilities and EMS division director for the department said that a portable kitchen had been brought in as a temporary solution. The kitchen was closed on July 21 according to a spokesperson from the department. 

“Our inspectors continue to closely monitor the facility and the investigation process has not yet been finalized,” Kuykendall said in a statement. “The facility has worked to meet the immediate concerns and continues to cooperate with the department.”

He said the department would not release any further information until the investigation is complete.

A staff member at Canterbury Gardens refused to answer questions about the kitchen for the 235-bed facility. A resident of the facility who first alerted the Aurora Sentinel said residents were receiving fast food meals as a stop-gap when the kitchen was closed.

“They are bringing us meals from places like McDonalds,” he said. “There are many people here on special diets, and they’re all getting the same thing. I think it’s almost criminal.” The man did not want to be identified for fear of retribution by the staff at Canterbury Gardens.

Beverly Wittekind, general counsel for The Ensign Group, the parent company that operates Canterbury Gardens, said she could not comment on why the kitchen was closed.

“The facility is making the necessary changes with as little impact as possible on staff and residents. They are cooperating with the state and responding as issues come up,” she said.

There have been more than 30 complaints filed with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment about Canterbury Gardens from August 2011 to June 2014. The complaints range from theft to negligence.

The California-based company also owns the Arvada Care and Rehab Center, the Sloans Lake Rehabilitation Center in Denver, the Littleton Care and Rehabilitation Center, and two care centers in Englewood.

Kuykendall said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment deals with around 3,000 complaints about facilities like Canterbury Gardens each year. He said most of them are minor or not substantiated. There are 600 assisted living residences licensed with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Kuykendall added that major disturbances, like shutting down a kitchen, only happen “a couple times a year.”