SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has confirmed the former head of Portage Manor who is accused of several human rights violations, including nailing resident windows shut, was fired from her job as the Administrator of another local assisted living facility.
According to an email sent to staff at St. Paul’s, Robyn Challinor was terminated on Friday. The email did not go into any details regarding her termination, but RNM has confirmed State officials had been investigating Challinor for alleged abuses committed against residents while she was the administrator of Portage Manor.
Challinor worked as the head Administrator at Portage Manor for more than 5 years. She stepped down from the top position at St. Joseph County’s government run assisted living facility in September of 2021.
In February, 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.
Challinor has been at the helm of an activist movement to attempt to save Portage Manor. At a meeting earlier this month, a group of protestors (led in part by Challinor) convinced the County Council to put the plan to close Portage Manor on hold while community members and the county seek out potential alternatives to the plan.
RNM uncovered a story earlier this year in which Challinor illegally nailed the widows shut in resident rooms while working at the facility and forced the people living there to follow prison-like rules, violating their rights. On top of the obvious fire code violations from nailing the windows shut, RNM also uncovered a list of 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 The Portage Manor facility is extremely out of date, with up to 25 residents all sharing one bathroom.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 here.
RNM has also learned that despite Challinor’s extensive background in nursing, some of the facility’s nursing regulations had not been updated since 1983 at the time of her resignation.
In March of this year, St. Joseph County served served Challinor with a Cease and Desist order, banning her from the property. An attorney for the county also sent a Cease and Desist to Challinor’s now former employer, Trinity Health Senior Communities (which runs Saint Joseph Health Systems and St. Pauls). The Cease and Desist orders claim Challinor has been going to Portage Manor “under the guise of meeting with ‘friends’ to conduct recruiting efforts.. unethically and illegally soliciting residents to move out of the facility… directly harming the income stream of the facility… causing hardship for the facility by diverting revenue away from the facility that is necessary to care for the resident’s.” RNM obtained copies of the order through a public records request.
“It is clear that your actions are self-serving and financially driven to obtain additional compensation from your current employer.” The Cease and Desist order reads.
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