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Posted on Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Records show history of neglect, abuse at foster care group homes operated by Milan company

By Lee Higgins


Dennis and Caroline Brewster with a picture of Corey Ulis at their Scio Township home. Corey, Caroline Brewster's son, was assaulted in 2005 by two workers at Country Lane Home in Pittsfield Township. At the time, the facility was being operated by Milan-based Renaissance Community Homes Inc.

Angela Cesere |

Molly Ripley died and she could do nothing to protect herself.

The 34-year-old was mentally retarded, blind, and had cerebral palsy. She was fed through a stomach tube and depended on employees at the state-licensed group homes where she lived in Washtenaw County to provide her round-the-clock care.

When Molly had a visitor, she squealed or laughed to express herself. But if Molly needed something, she couldn’t verbalize it.


Molly Ripley

“She never could talk, but she could speak volumes with her smile,” said her mother, Jill Ripley, who lives in Ann Arbor.

“She really gave joy to a lot of people if you wanted to let her into your life.”

For 14 years, Molly lived at Bateson Residence, an adult foster care facility in Ann Arbor Township, and participated twice each week in a local program that offers activities for the disabled. But on Dec. 8, 2009, Molly had to move out because of a black mold infestation there, a state special investigation report says. After consulting with county health officials, Molly's family placed her that night in Clark Road Home, an adult foster care facility in Ypsilanti Township operated by Milan-based Renaissance Community Homes, Inc.

Five days later, Molly's mother, a retired nurse from the University of Michigan Hospital, stopped by to pick Molly up for a home visit. Molly was slumped over in her wheelchair. She looked "bluish," her eyes were crusted shut and her heart was beating rapidly, her mother said.

"She was gasping for air," Jill Ripley said.

Workers at the home didn't realize Molly needed medical attention, the report says. Molly's family members called for an ambulance and she was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital, where tests showed Molly was dehydrated to the point of kidney failure, medical records say. She had significant bed sores that hospital staff found "were most likely the result of neglect on the group home's behalf," a medical report says. When Molly was turned over in the hospital, her bottom was "black as coal," her mother said.

Helpful links and phone numbers

  • Want to see if a state-licensed adult foster care facility in your area has violations? Look it up on the Department of Human Services website.
  • Need to make a complaint regarding the abuse, neglect or exploitation of a resident at an adult foster care facility? Call Adult Protective Services at 1 (800) 996-6228 or fill out the form online.
  • If you suspect a patient's rights have been violated at an adult foster care facility and want to file a complaint with the WCHO's Office of Recipient Rights, call 1 (734) 544-3000.
Jill Ripley said Molly appeared "totally uncared for."

Two days later, Molly died.

Molly is one of dozens of developmentally disabled or severely mentally ill people to be neglected, abused or otherwise mistreated during the past decade at adult foster care facilities operated by Renaissance, state records show.

Her death certificate says she died of sepsis and pneumonia. The family declined an autopsy.

Records kept by the home show a staff member gave Molly water and fed her on Dec. 13, 2009, prior to Molly's mother stopping by. But under questioning by state licensing officials, the staff member admitted that she didn't give Molly water or feed her that morning, despite initialling on a medication log that she had done so, a state special investigation report says.

Officials also determined staff members failed to seek medical attention for Molly when she was in respiratory distress, did not reposition her as prescribed and failed to relay her needs to other staff members.

State officials cited the home for 5 violations and issued a provisional license, giving it 6 months to straighten things out before another review. No criminal charges were filed and Molly's family members and their lawyer aren't aware of any criminal investigation being conducted.

“It was a slap on the wrist,” Jill Ripley said. “It was totally inappropriate. They should have shut the home down.”

Details of the case came to light in a lawsuit Molly's family filed this spring against Renaissance, Washtenaw County, the Washtenaw Community Health Organization and a number of other defendants, alleging that neglect led to her death.

Jill Ripley said, "Molly could not talk and I have to be her voice now. I will do whatever I can to make sure justice is served."

A history of violations

Since Jan. 1, 2000, state licensing officials have found 122 violations of adult foster care licensing rules at facilities operated by Renaissance after responding to complaints, state special investigation reports show. The non-profit has 22 active AFC licenses for homes in Washtenaw, Livingston, Lenawee, Hillsdale and Jackson counties, serving some of the state’s most vulnerable adults - the developmentally disabled and severely mentally ill. Most of Renaissance's homes have 6 residents.

Investigations have revealed staff members have assaulted patients, left them unattended, stolen from them, failed to monitor their medical conditions and insulted them. Almost half of the violations have occurred in the past three years. During that period, 17 out of the company's licenses - or 77 percent - have been cited for at least one violation after officials responded to complaints.

Despite serious violations at Renaissance's homes, the state rarely has taken disciplinary action against the company's licenses, records show.

And during the same period Renaissance has been cited for scores of violations, the WCHO has been giving it contracts, paying it millions of dollars in Medicaid funds to provide in-home support services for patients. filed a number of Freedom of Information requests with the county, WCHO, the state Department of Human Services and Pittsfield Township Police Department and reviewed more than 900 pages of documents on Renaissance that outline a range of violations. The violations are detailed in state special investigation reports.

Among the violations during the past decade:

  • April 6, 2010 - A severely mentally ill resident at Steamburg Road Home in Hillsdale, who had been threatening suicide for more than a week, walked away during an outing with other residents and submerged himself in a lake, attempting to commit suicide. Staff members then failed to seek psychiatric treatment for him.

  • May 7, 2009 - A worker at Oak Grove Home in Howell who was having trouble getting a resident out during a carbon monoxide drill, dragged him by his foot across the floor.
  • Oct. 10, 2008 - Two employees at North Territorial House in Dexter Township were supposed to take 5 patients to a farm market for cider, donuts and pumpkins. Instead, they went shopping at a strip mall in Brighton and left the patients unattended in a van for 45 minutes in the sun.
  • March 10, 2008 - A female resident of Clark Road Home was admitted to a burn unit at the University of Michigan Hospital after a staff member put her in a hot shower. She was scalded, suffering injuries including a 2nd-degree burn to her hip. The house's own records showed there were issues with the water temperature for 4 weeks, but the problem wasn't fixed.
  • Sept. 27, 2002 - A male resident at Bunting AFC Home in Jackson who had a behavioral issue, died after a number of staff interventions during a seven-and-a-half hour period during which he was physically restrained. Licensing officials found an employee who wasn't trained in physical interventions was involved in 3 of them. Officials also found staff members had no record of giving the patient various medications on 5 occasions, gave him other medications but didn't document it and failed to seek medical attention for him in a timely fashion. The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office was unable to determine the cause and manner of death.

    The beating of Corey Ulis

    Corey Ulis, 32, who is deaf, mentally retarded and autistic, still signs to his parents about what he calls the bad men in the blue house. When Corey moved in 2004 to Country Lane Home in Pittsfield Township, which was being operated by Renaissance at the time, his parents had high hopes. Corey found an advocate in direct care worker Dwight Seals, who had more than 15 years experience in the industry.

    "Even when he wasn't on shift, Dwight would go out there and pick up Corey and take him swimming," said Corey's mother, Caroline Brewster of Scio Township.

    But even Seals couldn't protect Corey.

    On May 21, 2005, two men who worked at the home took Corey out in the yard, closed a door behind them and beat him, a Pittsfield Township police report says. One staff member witnessed the men taking turns holding Corey up, knocking him to the ground and hitting him, the report says, but admitted she didn't report the attack.

    The men responsible were upset because a woman - the mother of one - who had worked at the home was transferred to another facility because she wasn't a good fit for Corey's needs, the report says. One of the men bragged about assaulting Corey, the report shows.

    Five days after the beating, Seals reported the incident to WCHO's Office of Recipient Rights, which is charged with protecting patients' rights under the Michigan Mental Health Code. Corey had bruises on his back, hip and face and a large knot on his head, the report says.

    "I just can't understand how you could do something like that to somebody," Brewster said.

    The 2 men involved were convicted of criminal charges. State licensing officials found that the men used unauthorized force, 2 other staff members failed to intervene and the house manager and house administrator failed to report the attack. The house manager admitted to police he destroyed some of the home's records on the beating, the report says.

    Licensing officials cited the home for 6 violations. Thirteen months later, officials returned and cited the home for another 7 violations after a staff member squirted a resident with a water gun, prompting him to get upset and hit another resident.

    Country Lane Home is currently being operated by another company.

    Since the beating, Corey has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a seizure disorder. Corey sued Renaissance with assistance from his family members and the case was settled. He now lives at the National Deaf Academy in Florida.

    “Everybody always thinks Washtenaw County, oh it’s the best place and the best care," Brewster said. "That is not true if you have disabilities.”

    Corey's stepfather, Dennis Brewster, questions why the WCHO continues to give Renaissance contracts.

    “We’re just worried,” he said. “How many more vulnerable adults are going to have to suffer?”


    Dennis Brewster signs to his stepson, Corey Ulis, during a video call, as Corey's mother, Caroline Brewster, sits nearby. Corey lives at the National Deaf Academy in Florida. In 2005, he was assaulted by two workers at Country Lane Home, a state-licensed adult foster care facility in Pittsfield Township. At the time, the facility was being operated by Milan-based Renaissance Community Homes Inc.

    Angela J. Cesere/

    Little disciplinary action

    Under the Adult Foster Care Facility Licensing Act, state officials have authority to take disciplinary action against licensed AFC facilities when violations are “willful and substantial.” Such action can include suspending or revoking licenses.

    But the state hasn’t suspended or revoked one of the Renaissance licenses during the past decade, even in the most serious cases of abuse and neglect.

    In all but 4 cases reviewed by, the state simply required homes where violations were found to submit corrective action plans, outlining changes that will be made to ensure violations don’t happen again.

    In the other 4 cases, the state issued provisional licenses, putting the homes on a probationary status for 6 months. Those 4 cases included the neglect of Molly Ripley, the death of the man in Jackson 9 years ago, the beating of Corey Ulis and after repeated violations occurred at the home where Corey was assaulted.

    Luttrell Levingston, division director for Adult Foster Care and Home for the Aged, said licensing actions depend on the severity and frequency of the violations and the risk to persons served. He defended the state's handling of the cases, saying when disciplinary action wasn't taken, "the department did not believe it was necessary."

    Years of contracts

    As Renaissance has been repeatedly cited for violations since 2000, the WCHO had been awarding it contracts, paying it millions of dollars in Medicaid funds.

    From fiscal years 2006 to 2010 alone, the WCHO paid the company more than $5.4 million in claims for in-home support services for patients, records show. The money pays for services, including equipment that helps the disabled complete everyday tasks, WCHO officials said.

    The WCHO was formed in 2000 as a partnership among the county, the University of Michigan Regents and U-M Health System to “establish an integrated health care delivery system to provide mental health, substance abuse and primary and specialty health care to Medicaid, low income and indigent customers.” It advertises on the Web that it contracts with “quality organizations that provide world class health care” for county citizens.

    The WCHO is currently paying Renaissance funds for services at Clark Road Home and South Lawn House, both in Ypsilanti Township, and North Territorial House in Dexter Township, officials said.

    Patrick Barrie, WCHO's executive director, declined to weigh in on how he thought Renaissance was doing.

    “I couldn’t tell you that I have sufficient knowledge about their performance as a provider to render an opinion,” he said.

    He said WCHO can terminate contracts with providers relatively easily, but he's not aware of any discussions to terminate any contracts with Renaissance.

    Denise Virgo, director of WCHO’s Office of Recipient Rights, which monitors service sites, investigates complaints and helps train care workers, said her office is doing “what we can under the confines of the law” to protect patients' rights. But her office has no control over licensing, she said.

    After Ulis was assaulted, the WCHO investigated and made a slew of recommendations, including "firm and fair disciplinary action" against 6 employees, re-training of employees and a meeting with the company's executive director, a WCHO report says.

    Shane Ray, supervisor of WCHO’s Office of Recipient Rights, said while investigators are concerned about violations, they're equally concerned about what isn't being reported. Many times, investigators suspect there are problems, he said, but simply can't prove it.

    “Our goal is for people to call us before something happens," he said.

    Making changes

    Michael Conner, executive director of Renaissance, said he considers all violations "serious," and the company is working to improve the quality of care it offers residents.

    "We try to learn from those violations and not repeat them," he said. "It's an ongoing process."

    He said the company has complied with all of the state's requests for corrective action plans in a timely fashion and offered suggestions to improve staff training. Renaissance has struggled with high turnover, which he said is an industry-wide issue.

    “It takes a special kind of person to work in this industry,” he said. “It’s not a glamour industry. It takes a very caring person.”

    Conner said the company has recently made headway in its effort to retain employees. For instance, he said 80 percent of employees have worked there for more than 6 months, 65 percent more than a year and 25 percent more than six years.

    When there's been violations, the company has made changes, he said, including after Molly's death. The staff member who falsely claimed she gave Molly water and fed her was let go because she showed "deliberate disregard" for the truth, Conner said. Molly was moved to the home in an emergency situation and Conner said the company is no longer taking emergency referrals to be better prepared for medically fragile patients.

    "A lot of people are very happy with the care they're getting," he said. "And a lot of their family members are happy."

    After learning of Renaissance's violations, Ann Kraemer, an ombudsman at Citizens for Better Care, a non-profit that advocates for people in adult foster care facilities in southeast Michigan, said she understands caring for the developmentally disabled and severely mentally ill is challenging. But workers chose that profession, she said. Leadership at facilities and state officials must hold people accountable, Kraemer said.

    “What’s of concern to me, is the severity of the violations,” she said. “It gets me very upset when I hear that residents of foster care facilities are abused repeatedly and little to nothing is done. Where is the public outcry? It just breaks my heart.”

    Lee Higgins is a reporter for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at

  • Comments


    Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 1:14 p.m.

    The tragedy of losing a child makes my heart ache and my prayers are extended to these families and others who have lost their child due to the negligence of another human being. It's a tragedy beyond words In 1987, I sent my son to Renaisance and he has been there ever since. Had it not been for Renaissance I don't know what would have happened to my son as he has serious mental ailments that often require one on one assistance. In my years of visiting I have seen it all, but in my heart I know he is where he is supposed to be. This is a learning lesson for all of society-the next time you see a homeless man or woman with a mental illness don't just walk away-they are God's people too. We all share in the blame of those lost to mental illness. See there is another side to this story because if it wasn't for Renaissance I would have lost my son too.


    Sat, Aug 27, 2011 : 12:31 a.m.

    As a former group home worker and site manager I know all too well about the abuses that take place in such facilities. I also know first hand all the good that happens as well. The problem is that while almost everyone would agree that the severely mentally ill and developmentally disabled deserve quality care, it does not appear that anyone wants to pay for it. These individuals require the same amount of food, water, heat, and light as any non-group home resident. So, let's say on average... that's $200 a month. Then add to that the cost of their housing... add another $200-$600 depending on location and size. Now add in the cost of one worker at $7.25 an hour for 24 hours a day $5220 (roughly). So the total comes to just around $6000 a month. And that's only paying a person $7.25 an hour to deal with behavioral issues, emotional issues, be proficient in cooking, cleaning, pass medications, manage money.... So what quality of person can we expect to opt into working for the system? In my experience- there are two kinds: 1) Those who are drawn to care giving and 2)those who can not get a job elsewhere... As to shutting down a company- well there are better and worse companies out there... but really it averages out. Shutting down agencies only shifts the issue to another letter head. The answer lies in all of this outrage being forced into the throats of those that manage the funding for these programs. Demand higher wages for care givers and demand a higher level of training than the in services offered in site and a high school diploma. Stop protesting group homes in your neighborhood. it's great that some light has been shone on the issue... but the system needs FIXING, not just a lot of outrage. Those of us who have been in the field know that all too well.

    alice raupp

    Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

    When will we learn a government can not legislate compassion and caring? Caring for people with disabilities is not about money..its about compassion..about faith...about the understanding of a Creator ...His creations...all life....


    Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 12:18 a.m.

    THIS is why it is so very important to pay regular visits to your loved ones. Even if it's just a few minutes every day, or every other day. Even a gap of 5 days is too much. Family and friends have responsibility in this too.


    Thu, Aug 25, 2011 : 5:06 a.m.

    Regulators failed also. Highly paid government employed regulators failed too. Let me say it again, highly paie "union" regulators failed too and they are still failing and getting paid to fail with no consequences. No wonder they fail, no reason to succeed. It's government welfare.


    Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 6:17 a.m.

    i have been a care giver with this company for 9 years now and not all of the homes under Renaissance are bad. In fact, most of the homes have staff and managers that are on top of things and deeply care for the residents we are responsible for. The company does extensive background checks and finger printing before hiring and no one with a criminal history is allowed to work for the company. The work is hard and the direct care staff has not recieved a raise in over two years, but we continue to come into work because we care for our residents.Yes, there have been major problems in some homes and some staff should never have chose this field of work. This is not just a Renaissance issue though!! I worked for two different care facilities in another county before coming to work for Renaissance and witnessed abuse and neglect on an almost daily basis in those facilities.Reports were made and fell on deaf ears each and every time with those facilities!! I have stayed with Renaissance because I see a difference in them and i do see love and care from the staff.I felt it was important to point out that,although there are problems, not all of the homes owned by or staff employed by Renaissance fall into this topic. I am also a parent to a disabled child, so my heart breaks for what these families had to go through. There need to be tougher laws set into place to protect these innocent people and changes need to be made statewide,not just with this one company.


    Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 2:38 a.m.

    This is so very sad and so avoidable. The lack of oversight by the WCHO is directly responsible for what happened to these people. Look at the response by Patrice Barrie and their Recipient Rights Director. They accept no responsibility and show no remorse. Both of them should lose their jobs, along with the homes Director. and staff involved in the neglect and abuse. There is no retraining for people who would cause harm to such helpless individuals. The State should really look into some of the other homes that the WCHO contracts with. I'm sure that much of the same will be found. One of the sad things here is the VERY high salaries that are paid to WCHO staff while cuts are going on to their providers which impacts the consumers of services very much. It's a true shame. Also, who's doing background checks on these staff that are working with these very vulnerable people. So very sad indeed. But who will step up to the plate and take responsibility, guess that remains to be seen or who cares enough about these special people.


    Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

    All those officials and employees making money to "regulate" this industry and nothing getting done. Why have these "regulators" on the government payroll when they do nothing but "write a ticket". These "regulators" should be put on trial for negligence also. And these "regulators" are highly paid professionals.

    Basic Bob

    Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 11 p.m.

    The other side of this story is that Molly Ripley lived, against all odds, for 34 years with serious medical issues. It is amazing that she reached such an age when she could not communicate her needs. The thousands of people that made that a reality should be commended. Even though the immediate cause of her death was inadequate care, she had 34 years of adequate care.

    alice raupp

    Wed, Aug 24, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.

    why would she have to communicate her needs? are we not as human beings aware that all living creatures are in need of food, infant is not able to communicate its needs but somehow they get care. through basic common was sheer neglect killed Molly and we the taxpayers funded it...


    Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 2:25 a.m.

    The cause of this persons death goes way beyond inadequate care! It was caused by a lack of oversight, neglect and abuse by many, not just the home.

    Bertha Venation

    Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

    Sounds to me like Renaissance is employing the convicted felons that the nursing homes finally fired.


    Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:05 p.m.

    To some degree, that is true...


    Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 2:27 a.m.

    Sadly, this is an issue that affects many different people. Age doesn't always seem to matter now. Disabled children and adults alike have fewer and fewer safe havens every year. Childcare centers won't accept children with disabilities and if they do refuse them once they are chronologically 12, even if they cannot be left alone. This means that families have to find a safe place for their loved ones because, while people claim there are many resources, there aren't enough resources for those who really need them. Adults who need such attention to detail and high level care have even fewer places to go. One might think that a society would place a higher value on ensuring quality of life for everyone, but sadly that isn't the case. Disabled adults are treated as pariahs, as if they have a contagious disease. Families can't afford private care for them, so they turn to the supposed community resources. But that's an even more dangerous place. I know what it's like to provide the high level of care that is required by some disabled adults. Yes, it's hard work for little money, but I chose it and I love those that I care for. It's also why I work so hard to keep them out of the adult foster homes. Particularly when they can't speak up for themselves or tell someone what is happening to them. No one deserves to live a life of misery, especially when it's a person who can't help themselves.

    Tom Teague

    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 11:15 p.m.

    @Lee Higgins: This is good reporting and a well-written piece. It's the type of long-form journalism that I thought had died on the internet. Good work on producing this heartbreaking but insightful piece. It's hard to believe that taking care of the least strong in our society could fall to people who cannot muster empathy or compassion toward their charges.


    Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

    I agree, one of the better pieces I've read in a while. Sadly, until their pay is equal to that of the neurosurgeons and cardio thoracic surgeon's, most people won't even consider going into this line of work. For those that are in this line of work and doing good, thank you!


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 10:55 p.m.

    WCHO Director Patrick Barrie said he does not have "sufficient knowledge" and is "not aware". It sounds like he is not doing his job. He should be fired!


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

    Great research and reporting, Lee Higgins. Thank you. With so much let slip through the cracks, at best, and outright abuse and negligence at worst, it shows us all how vigilant we must be of the welfare of our family members and friends when they are not in our care. It occurs to me that it's important to have someone checking in each day, and if the one who usually does this is away, to be sure that someone else can do it. As a friend, I have not volunteered to do this, but I will now. Thank you again, Lee. This is certainly an eye opener.


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

    Compelling reporting on a difficult story. Good job, Lee.


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

    Thank goodness we have State and Federal laws regulating health care so stuff like this doesn't happen! Did make this story up? I am glad that now we have even more laws, regulations etc so that this will never happen in the future! When government is involved, things like this do not happen!


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 3:05 p.m.

    I hear a lot of people complaining in this blog but nobody who actually steps up to the plate and takes care of these people 24/7 themselves. Typical Ann Arbor "elitist" stuck up snobs.


    Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 4:02 a.m.

    Susie, I'm calling out the people who are complaining who don't do anything NOT people who aren't complaining who do nothing but pay taxes to support help. Good grief, LOL. Anyway, taking care of retarded people is one of the most difficult jobs in the world and I don't care if your Chuck Norris with 10 Master degree's in social work, mistakes are going to happen doing this type of job. Now if we could only blame the Tea Party, George Bush, and Global Warming then we as great A2 human beings would have something going here, lol. Have a great night and may the progressive force be with you.


    Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 12:31 a.m.

    Suze, I think Mohomed is pointing out a critical issue. These facilities can be very expensive to run. If the funding is not sufficient quality of care will suffer. I have personal knowledge of this because my mother was an invalid for several years. Once, an aide stole my mother's credit card number and used it. This was in a fairly well run facility, but it was hiring aids who were not trained in care, just people who needed a job. The article here says WCHO paid this company $5.4 million over four years for three facilities. That seems like generous funding, but I don't have the expertise in this so maybe it is not enough to provide high quality care. Even if we have agencies and commissions that are supposed to watch over these institutions, that does not address the fact that if they are underfunded, care will suffer. Closing them down for care issues does not solve the funding issue, which could be a cause here in the low quality of care reported here. It would be interesting to know what the people who own this company pay themselves with the WCHO/Medicaid funds.


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

    Oh good grief, Darth Vader. What do YOU do? We have agencies and commissions that are supposed to watch over these institutions and homes. If they did their jobs as well as most of us do ours, this would not be an issue. "Typical Ann Arbor elitist stuck up snobs, whoever they may be," have nothing to do with this.


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

    Good work Lee. You have done some great in depth reporting. Now , how sad is it that ppl. have died been injured and nothing has been written? I agree we most the other posters, a very hard job. With that kind of money coming in surely they can pay their workers a better wage, more careful screening, require some classes. But of course, the big wigs have to get their pay.. blah!!.. Just so sad. Keep us posted Lee

    Terrin Bell

    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

    This is a tragedy. This, however, is the type of thing that happens when places are under constant pressure to do more with less. There are some private health care facilities in the area that have a 1 to 18 nurse to patient ratio. Compare that to a typical hospital like St. Joe's that often have a 1 to 5 nurse to patient ratio. Many private places try to bring costs down by doing away with experienced nurses, and by instead relying mostly on low paid and sometimes uneducated health care aides. This is why we want our health care providers educated and paid properly. Further, when you over work people, pay them close to minimum wage, and regularly put them in a situation where they must work double shifts to live these types of things will continue to happen. Again, a sad tragedy.

    Janet Hawkins

    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

    Caring for our most vulnerable is an altruistic calling. Washing, bathing, grooming, feeding, and attending to every need of a severely challenged person takes a very unique and empathetic person. Unfortunately, some of the people who answer the call for this relatively low-paying work often come from environments where patience and compassion are in low supply. My experience with Renaissance-run homes has been a positive one, for the most part. Each home is individually managed. Staff and managers receive good, basic training through WCHO, but as demonstrated in the examples highlighted here, that training can not change the innate behaviors of individuals who themselves were probably raised in homes where abuse and neglect were pervasive. And that kind of upbringing is hard to screen for on a job application. My heart aches for the families and the individuals who suffered in these homes. I am aware of houses managed by Renaissance that have handled incidents, which could have escalated into these examples, much more swiftly and appropriately. What sets them apart from those highlighted here are the diligence of the managers, the other staff members, friends and neighbors, and parents and guardians. Renaissance Community Homes, Inc. is responsible for many homes in this community because there are only a few organizations that do this kind of work in the greater Washtenaw County area. Sooner or later families must turn over the responsibility of providing direct care for their loved one to someone else because they simply can no longer do it themselves. Instead of pointing fingers we need to remain vigilant and assist where we can. And we must never be afraid to report abuse of any kind when we suspect it. The health of a society is measured by how it cares for its most vulnerable.

    Sandra Estep

    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

    This story is very tragic. I have a friend who is Developmentally Disabled living in a group home. In 2010 she had a stroke. A staff person identified her signs of a stroke as," behavior problems." There is documentation from the investigation and from EMS that the staff delayed in calling" 911". This was a delay is her treatment at the hospital. A RN attending a meeting with myself and her guardian stated the following in response to the above statement, Maybe she was just having symptoms of the flu. There is not sufficent monitoring by professional people in the group homes. The office of recipient rights appears to have protected the staff and not the client in this situation. The excuse that the staff have a large caseload is not sufficent excuse. There can be phone calls and follow up that the client's needs are being met.


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

    Point one: I am saddened each time I read something like this, but it is not isolated to this one company. Point two: (and don't misunderstand me here, I am not advocating FOR this particular company, nor any such company) is next to impossible to find direct-care staff aides to work at these facilities. They are woefully underpaid, the work is horrendous, and you get the trickle-down effect in employees: that is, every single hospital and medical facility in this area needs aides and orderlies and every one of those facilities can not fill those spots at a higher salary with benefits....those people who can't even get hired as orderlies trickle down to the rehab and mental health home facilities, and quite frankly you are getting the worst employees to fill direct-patient-care positions. There are some good people there too -- the ones who put in hours and hours of backbreaking work, who choose to work there, who are sometimes students who have to put in x number of hours there, or others who just plain old care....but that is NOT the norm in these types of facilities. It's a hidden problem across the country, not just with this single company.


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 12:57 p.m.

    This is just another case of "low pay for less quality". If these companies paid their workers a reasonable wage, instead of paying their executives excessive salaries for doing nothing, they could attract and retain better people. These companies are filling their open positions with anyone who is willing to show up with little regard to whether these people actually care for the patients. I do not mean to insult the dedicated employees who care and give their all to these vulnerable members of our society. Those that continue to work at these places for low pay and take great care of the people they are charged with deserve a large pay raise! Why do we pay so little to the people that take care of our most defenseless members of society?


    Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

    What about the "regulatory agency employees" not doing their jobs and they are "highly paid". Government union members always blame those low pay for these failure but when it's their failure it's "mistakes were made, understaffed, lacked training, communications barriers, etc. etc. I think incompetance is not subject to a pay scale but is an issue of accountability. You say nothing about the regulatory agencies responsible for auditing these "low paid professionals". Why?


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

    The majestic wheels of Ann Arbor justice are busily grinding the crises of .08 "drunk" drivers, medical marijuana dispensaries and aggressive panhandling, and are soon to be additionally clogged by criminally idling motor vehicles. There's no time to be wasted on sexual assaults, bank robberies, or shocking serial crimes like this. What's the point? In facing those thorny issues there's no potential for judicial profit, no federal grants to exploit, no police overtime to collect.


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

    "When there's been violations, the company has made changes, he said, including after Molly's death. The staff member who falsely claimed she gave Molly water and fed her was let go because she showed "deliberate disregard" for the truth" Fired for deliberate disregard for the truth? Not for deliberate disregard for life and human dignity? Could that be the real issue?


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

    Here's some public outcry...we pay Patrick Barrie for this??? Fire him, now! Or is the difference between "executive" director and "director" such that he needs to know nothing and just collects pay for stuffing a suit? >Patrick Barrie, WCHO's executive director, declined to weigh in on how he thought Renaissance was doing. >"I couldn't tell you that I have sufficient knowledge about their performance as a provider to render an opinion," he said.

    Angil Tarach-Ritchey RN, GCM

    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

    This is a human tragedy and this company should've not only had it's license revoked a long time ago, they should've been charged and prosecuted. If one tragic incident didn't get this company to straighten up and provide kind, respectful, dignified and compassionate care, what makes the officials think 5, or 8, or 12 incidents will? Companies like this are directed from the top down. The owners and administration are responsible for hiring, disciplinary action, training, and monitoring their residents. They are failing at every level, which can only be concluded by the fact that they themselves are not compassionate or trained. Why should even 1 more person's health or life be sacrificed when it is blatantly obvious that this pattern will continue as long as officials allow them to remain open? Does anyone have empathy? What is it were your son or daughter who wasn't being fed or given fluids? What if your son or daughter was bring dragged across the floor, beaten, or left in a hot van to die? These are human beings who are sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers. They deserve respectful, loving and dignified care just as anyone. This is such an outrage! I pray for the residents and families who have been victimized by these evil people and for the safety of all residents.

    Patrick Little

    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 11:51 a.m.

    The fact that criminal acts have not been investigated by law enforcement agencies or the Prosecutor's office is criminal in itself. Who really speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves?


    Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 10:51 a.m.

    What a shame.