Former Roland Retirement Club residents share stories of neglect, poor conditions

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Residents of an assisted living facility in Speedway, speaking for the first time about the conditions they were forced to live in.

“We ended up with cold food, hardly anything and they’d run out of food you know and we ended up with lunch meat,” said Linda Hild.

Until this past November, Linda Hild and her roommate Darlene Davisson say they lived in a daily nightmare at Roland Retirement Club.

“Three weeks we had bed bugs!” Darlene recounted. “You know where we had to go? We had to go out back and stay out back!”

Darlene remembered having to stay just outside her room or be confined to it while she, her roommate and several others suffered through a bedbug infestation.

But that was far from the only issue plaguing the assisted living facility.

Last week we discovered accusations that an administrator neglected the facility, leading to years of health and safety issues at the club.

The women witnessed first-hand all the details revealed in State Department of Health documents, which helped lay the groundwork for a formal complaint from the Attorney General. Unsecured hand rails inside shower stalls, all the employees lacking first aid certification and even mouse droppings on tables where food was prepared are just a few of the mountain of issues state officials found each year when they surveyed the facility.

“I wish they’d had [sic] cleaned it better, just spray it and do deep cleaning,” said Linda. “They never did deep cleaning there. They clean everything here. I never seen any bugs here and crawling around here.”

“Here” refers to Lakeview Manor, Linda and Darlene’s new home.

A look at the state health facility report page for Lakeview Manor, like many other facilities, has also had complaints filed against it over the past few years.

The difference, Linda and Darlene says, is that the licensed administrator is constantly available to address any issues. The administrator there, they could pick out of a lineup.

That was not the case for them at Roland.

“I didn’t even know her name,” said LInda. “I heard her name’s Jones or something? Never met her.”

According to a complaint from the Attorney General’s office filed this month, Roland’s administrator Cynthia Jones hadn’t worked there for at least two years.

The absence of an administrator was first documented in a June 2015 report from the state health department, stating that no administrator or even an administrator office was observed at the facility. The corrective action submitted was to have an authorization for someone else to act on her behalf in case of an emergency.

But in 2016, the Attorney General’s Office says the administrator still wasn’t back at work.

In 2017, Jones was missing in action one again.

A State Health Department spokesperson says there’s no requirement for an administrator to be present when they’re assessing complaints, as long as someone is authorized to act on their behalf and as long as they are truly in charge of the facility every other day of the year.

But by late 2017, state officials decided to find out whether the second half of that statement was true.

They started asking around Roland. Multiple residents and employees stated that they had never seen Jones in years of living and working there. Most said they had never even heard her name.

Soon after, Speedway Police were called when a resident’s dead body was found, with cockroaches crawling out of her body.

State health officials pursued action to revoke the facility’s license, but didn’t have to because they say the owner voluntarily surrendered it, forcing Roland to abruptly shut down in a matter of weeks.

FOX59 spoke with several people involved in the assisted living and skilled nursing facility industry, including some staff at Lakeview Manor. All were horrified by the what they’ve read or seen about the conditions at Roland at its closing.

“We were shocked,” said Haley Trump, the Lakeview Admissions Director. “That’s the main way to describe it. And we were confused as to how they had stayed open.”

For two weeks as Roland prepared to close, Trump says she and other nurses from their facility helped relocate every resident either to their facility or somewhere else before the lights turned off. Like others, Trump expressed concern that the situation was able to escalate to the point it had.

Sometime around when the state health department started working to close the facility, they took their findings about the administrator’s absence to the AG last fall.

The AG’s Office investigated and found enough evidence to accuse Jones of using her license to keep the place open. That led them to file a complaint against her license. But they weren’t able to do any of this, until state health officials brought the issue to their attention.

“Until we have a complaint, we can’t pursue anything individually,” said Aaron Negangard, the Chief Deputy Attorney General.

Negangard acknowledged that in the meantime, some of the state’s most vulnerable people end up stuck in deplorable conditions. He urged people’s loved ones to do their research before choosing a facility and continue doing so once they move in.

But for people like Linda, who are left to make these decision on their own, Trump says something needs to change to help them.

Believing they have no other options, under the current process, people like Linda stay despite the risk to their own lives.

“I regret going to Roland,” said Linda. “I thought that was the only place I could go.”