The following letter (with several redactions, due to privacy issues) was sent without redactions to Mr. Kelley Hamilton, CEO of Bonaventure Senior Living, Salem, OR, on 17 February, 2012. We have yet to receive a response from him, after being told by Ms. Brenda Chambers, Regional Director of Operations, that he would personally call us.
Several weeks after this letter was sent Ms. Chambers, at our request, held a community meeting at Spring Creek, Bellingham, WA, but was reluctant to hear us talk. And once we did get a chance to have the floor to describe what happened to our Mother, she was quick to rush through the topic and left the meeting to sequester herself behind closed doors.
We strongly recommend that if your loved one is in a Bonaventure facility, you find another place for them. And if you're considering placing a loved one in any of the Bonaventure facilities, don't.
February 17, 2012
Mr. Kelley Hamilton
Bonaventure Senior Living
3220 State Street, Suite 200
Salem, Oregon 97301
Dear Mr. Hamilton:
The purpose of this letter is to draw attention to one of many potentially fatal incidents at Bonaventure Senior Living's Bellingham (WA) Spring Creek Retirement Center. Where our loved one was left in a weakened condition that ultimately contributed to her death, our purpose is to affect change and advocate for recordable procedures to prevent this from recurring. We also wish to help instill vigilance, accountability, and reasonable response from Bonaventure Senior Living for the residents in order to make them comfortable in what may be their final home.
(Our mother) was a resident of Spring Creek Retirement Center in Bellingham, WA from February, 2007 until her death at age 93, on 14 January, 2012.
Over the course of her 5-year residency at Spring Creek, she paid nearly $250,000 in rent and "meals."
She only needed help from Spring Creek's front desk one time. And that one time, Spring Creek failed her.
Mother had many medical issues, but everyone who met her admired her indomitable spirit. Throughout her last 3 years, she used a wheelchair or an electric scooter to get around. Always happy, outgoing, and interested in others, she kept her maladies to herself. She relied on us and her close friend, (gentleman), who also lives at Spring Creek, to regularly check in on her and run her errands.
On 5 January, 2012 she wrote an account of what happened to her at around 4:15 p.m. that day. She slipped off her bathroom commode and onto a small white plastic wastebasket next to the toilet. She was not strong enough to pull herself back up into her wheelchair or onto the toilet, so she pulled the emergency cord in her bathroom for assistance.
She waited for 45 minutes. No one came.
An amputee, she finally scooted across the bathroom floor to her bedroom, used her oxygen tube as a lariat, and lassoed her phone off the nightstand to call her friend (gentleman), who came to help her. He could not lift (her) back to her chair, so he went to the front desk, which was deserted. He saw the red emergency light still lit, and no one around. He went to the kitchen, where the staff had gathered to get ready for the dinner service and got two young men (names redacted) to come with him to (her) room and get her back to her wheelchair.
The next day, (she and gentleman friend) talked with Mr. Evan Perrollaz, the "Temporary Executive Director," about the problem and were told that the wiring must have been faulty and he would ask the maintenance person, (name redacted), to look at it. Four days elapsed before (the maintenance person) was even told of the matter, at which time he checked it immediately.
After this incident, the (our) family and (gentleman friend) met on Tuesday, 9 January, with Mr. Perrollaz, who immediately explained that the Spring Creek staff members typically do not always answer the emergency calls because many residents use that cord to summon help in closing blinds or changing television channels! He said he was sorry about what happened in (Mom's) case, and that he had immediately asked (maintenance person) to check her emergency cord wiring a lie.
(Mom's gentleman friend) pointed out that he himself had asked (maintenance person) on Monday, 8 January, if he had checked Mom's apartment wiring and (he) said he'd never been informed of the problem until (Mom's gentleman friend) brought it to his attention. Mr. Perrollaz had no explanation for this discrepancy and seemed cold and indifferent to the situation.
However, he did say he was attempting to bring organization to this particular facility, and noted that there was considerable disorganization in the staff.
We left the meeting feeling uneasy and with no reassurances that something like this would never happen again.
Rather we found ourselves having lost all trust in the dependability of the Spring Creek staff and management for doing their jobs, as well as mildly intimidated by the coldness we experienced from Mr. Perrollaz.
We immediately ordered a LifeAlert system for (Mom). It arrived several days after she died.
This intimidation is not limited to Mr. Perrollaz. Over the years, we have heard innumerable stories of residents who are afraid to speak up to management about the bad food, the non-responsiveness of the staff, and the lack of response when residents DID contact the corporate hierarchy in Oregon.
Diane, the Resident Services Manager, who we met several days later while planning a memorial gathering for Mother, was also unfriendly, terse, and prickly. Her May I HELP YOU?!?" was harsh, cold, and intimidating. She reacted similarly to several residents who addressed her while in our presence. She sounded more like a tavern bouncer than a Resident Services provider. It is obvious she would be happier anywhere but working for Bonaventure. This is no way to treat visitors or elderly residents.
After (Mom's) incident, we soon heard from many other residents regarding similar incidents of non-response and blatant rudeness from management. It's not unusual for residents to just call 911 instead of relying on the front desk for help.
We will be happy to supply you with additional examples of slow or non-response incidents if you request them.
Over the next few days, Mothers body weakened. (Mom) died on 14 January. While we do not blame Spring Creek for her death, we definitely believe that stress-filled incident contributed to her demise.
We believe there should be accountability up to the highest levels of Bonaventure Senior Living. But it appears either corporate is not listening, or more importantly, does not care.
We understand that there is high turnover in the retirement community/elder care business model; however, the apparent attitude towards staff and residents at Spring Creek calls into question the company's hiring, management. and customer service mission.
A subsequent check online for other complaints about the company proved our concerns were justified: http://www.ripoffreport.com/directory/Bonaventure-Senior-Living.aspx
Residents are reluctant to voice complaints or concerns, as there is a general feeling of intimidation - the threat that if they complain, they will be evicted.
This is not a good model for Bonaventure's business.
Our elders are our treasures. They have lived full lives and deserve nothing but the best that can be offered to them. Families entrust Spring Creek with their loved ones with the assurance that emergency cords are provided in all the apartments, and every time a cord is pulled, it will be answered within 2 minutes.
With the prohibitive cost of residency at Bonaventure properties, we expect Top Quality Product and Service. The Bonaventure complexes are beautiful, and many of the hourly workers are truly kind and gentle. However, with the exception of 1 or perhaps 2 people, there has not been one effective Executive Director in that rapidly revolving employment door in the last 5 years.
Management morale and attitude is generally lousy, the food has always been a terrible mess the entire time Mother lived there, and the lack of attention to residents emergencies is simply inexcusable.
(Our) family has nothing more to lose. Mother is dead. However, we have an obligation to the many residents of Spring Creek - our friends, (Moms) close friends, and community - to bring this incident to the attention of as many people as possible, to hopefully protect someone else from neglect, or worse.
To date, to our knowledge, no one who has ventured to write to Bonaventure corporate about the food or living conditions at Bellingham Spring Creek has received a response.
We will probably receive the same treatment, which is why this letter is being sent to the highest levels in Washington government and regulatory agencies.