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Date:3/5/2008

Workers, Residents' Family Members Confront Lazard Execs, Protest Outside Atria Senior Living Investor Meeting

NEW YORK, March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Workers, family members of elderly residents at Atria Senior Living centers, and SEIU Healthcare members confronted private equity owner Lazard's executives outside their annual meeting of buyout fund investors today, demanding better care and wages at hundreds of facilities across the country.

Atria -- the third-largest assisted living provider in the United States -- has come under fire recently for skyrocketing rent increases, reprimands from government agencies for poor health and labor practices, and a series of troubling incidents at facilities across the country. The protesters blamed Atria's bad performance on Lazard's greed -- putting multi-million-dollar profits ahead of the needs of elderly residents and workers who have been under-trained and over-worked.

Lazard is a powerhouse Wall Street firm that manages more than $140 billion. A Lazard-affiliated private equity buyout fund owns Atria. Residents' family members detailed their concerns today outside of the Lazard investor meeting at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manhattan (50 Central Park South).

"Before my mother moved in, Atria promised the best food and plenty of caregiving staff. We had high expectations, but I feel like we've been deceived every step of the way," said Robin Berson, whose mother lives at Atria Senior Living in Riverdale, New York.

There have also been reports of shocking incidents at Atria facilities such as medication mistakes, violating fire codes by improperly locking in residents, and failing to call emergency services after a resident slipped and fell. Residents and family members pointed to the exorbitant fees some residents pay -- as much as $8,500-a-month.

Workers at Lazard's Atria facilities noted problems with short-staffing, high employee turnover, and inadequate training which they say contributes to care problems. Average starting pay for Atria workers is $8-$10 an hour.

"I am deeply concerned by reports coming from residents at the Atria located in my district about rapidly rising costs coupled with disturbing lapses in patient care and service," said State Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal (D, WF). "I am looking into these matters, but in the meantime I strongly urge Atria Senior Living to get its house in order and address these issues."

More: http://www.improveassistedliving.org and http://www.lazardunveiled.org


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SOURCE SEIU Healthcare
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