A three-day state investigation that began on July 27th ended with state investigators asking for the owner of Ruth Marie's Country Home in Jewett to forfeit his certificate. James Simpson's staff members are being accused of neglecting the disabled and developmentally challenged. And since the allegations came to light, Simpson has found himself in the middle of a controversial fight with the state.
Most things about the original Ruth Maries Country Home on Merryweather Drive remain the same; the facility; its services; many of the staff members and many of the clientele. The only thing different -- is the ownership -- and the name.
The state has yet to confirm who the new contract providers are, or what the new name is -- but according to the attorney representing James Simpson's corporation, she says her client is no longer providing services under its contract in Jewett; nor is it providing services at any of the other locations in what the Department of Aging and Disability Services classifies as ‘Region 6.’
According to the DADS website, region 6 includes the following counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller and Wharton.
In a statement from DADS Monday afternoon, “Our principal concern was a serious lack of medical care for the clients being served under this contract. It wasn’t just an issue in one home,” said DADS press officer, Cecilia Cavuto. “Our regulatory teams visited a range of homes in different cities where these clients were receiving services, including the home in Jewett, and found a pattern of residents not receiving timely, appropriate medical care they needed.
News 3 spoke to several current and former employees about their experience as caregivers at the various homes in Jewett.
"I don't stand for mistreatment or the abuse or anything like that," said a former house manager.
Each further stated they’re not surprised of the results of the ongoing investigation.
"There are a lot of people that are just there for a paycheck,” he added. “They hire family members, they’re aunt’s, uncle’s, and then you've got this kid fresh out of school that has no experience, who doesn't know how to change a baby diaper, let alone an adult's diaper, so you can imagine how difficult that would be.”
Many current and former employees who have contacted News 3 since the story aired – say they’ve been contacted by the state and are now being questioned. DADS says in many homes, there wasn't adequate food for clients; But one woman, who asked to remain anonymous, says she always ensured her clients never went hungry.
"I worked the 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift; and I know what meals I would make,” she added. “There was food in my house; I'm not going to say there was adequate food; personally, I don't think there was, but I know deep down in my heart that my clients were always fed.”
In a statement, Simpson's attorney says the accusations against her client are false.
"Although we disagree with the proposed cancellation of our HCS Contract to serve in Area 6, and immediately appealed this action, Ruth Marie's Country Home has cooperated fully with the State in their relocation of all the individuals served. We remain committed to our service to individuals affected by developmental disability and will work within the legal process to restore our contract in this area and to enhance the lives of the individuals we support in other areas.
The investigation is ongoing and will be reviewed in court.