Fmr. Portage Manor head nailed resident windows shut — “treated them like prisoners”

Robyn Challinor, Former Administrator for Portage Manor — Photo: LinkedIn

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned the former Administrator of the county-run Portage Manor assisted living facility illegally nailed the widows shut in resident rooms and forced the people living there to follow prison-like rules, violating their rights. Robyn Challinor worked as the head administrator of the facility for nearly 5-and-a-half-years before stepping down in September of 2021. On top of the obvious fire code violations from nailing the windows shut, RNM also uncovered a list of prison-like rules drafted by Challinor that every resident was forced to obey.

Multiple sources confirmed with RNM that the windows had been nailed shut during Challinor's tenure. According to those sources, the windows were sealed for various reasons, such as residents smoking in their rooms or urinating out of the windows. The Portage Manor facility is extremely out of date, with up to 25 residents all sharing one bathroom. Smoking is also confined to a designated outdoor smoking area. However, Challinor had lights-out hours and would not allow residents to step outside of the facility after 9:00pm.

Challinor's rules were overbearing and illegal. According to Portage Manor Rules and Policies that were used under Challinor and obtained by RNM, male residents were forced to shave daily and have monthly haircuts, residents were not allowed to visit neighborhood homes, residents were not allowed out of their designated wings from 9:00pm-8:00am., resident TVs had to be turned off by 10:00pm and could not be turned back on until 5:00am, residents had to be in bed by 11:00pm during the week and midnight on the weekends, residents were also forced to get passes to leave the facility (which is against the law). Subscribers can view the documents showing the rules and policies below.

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Last month, the St. Joseph County Board of County Commissioners announced a plan to relocate the residents currently living at Portage Manor and then shut the facility down. Portage Manor is one of the last 10 county-run homes in the state of Indiana. Another county-run home in Delphi County is currently in the process of closing as well. St. Joseph County officials say it is just not financially feasible to retrofit the current building or build a brand new facility. The current conditions for residents are simply inhumane.

Since that announcement, Challinor has become a vocal advocate for keeping the facility open and operating. The following quotes are from Challinor from a South Bend Tribune article regarding the closure last month.

State officials, she said, “looked at us as a state model for how we cared for the residents.”

Challinor had fallen in love with working with residents who typically “fall through the cracks.” 

She’d also worked on seeking renovations of the building. She mentioned added bathrooms, new pipes, new windows and a new heating/air conditioning system that the building needed.  

“Other than that, the building is sound,” she said. “The best way to save the building is to save the mission.”  

RNM has also learned that despite Challinor's extensive background in nursing, some of the facilities nursing regulations had not been updated since 1983 at the time of her resignation.

RNM reached out to Challinor for comment. As of publication she has not responded.

RNM also reached out to the current Portage Manor Administrator, Kourtney Mullins. Mullins refused to comment on how the facility was run by her predecessor, but said policies have since been updated and no resident windows are currently nailed down or sealed shut.

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