Neglect Plunges Michigan’s Nursing Home Industry into Turmoil

Michigan nursing homes are coming under scrutiny after a three-part series by the Detroit Free Press revealed a trend of neglect in many facilities that resulted in multiple fines and, in some cases, death.

In a recent, 34-month period analyzed by the Free Press, state nursing homes racked up $9.9 million in federal fines—the most of any state, the newspaper reports.

Additionally, Michigan nursing facilities have the ninth-highest rate of serious violations per capita, according to the Free Press’ analysis of federal data, and throughout a three year period, they were cited for “serious violations” (incidents that either harmed residents or placed them in imminent danger of being harmed) 2.7 times for every 100 residents. The national rate: 1.5.


As the nation’s population gets older and baby boomers begin retiring, “concern over the quality of nursing homes has become more vital than ever,” says the article.

It’s the excessive paperwork and bureaucratic regulations that decrease quality of care, state administrators counter, and each nursing home rating can vary widely from others depending on individual inspectors’ preferences and attitudes, the Free Press reports, going on to detail a number of cases where nursing home residents ultimately died due to neglect and lack of care.

As many as 20% of Michigan nursing home residents suffer some form of neglect, according to a Michigan State University researcher’s report.


“Maybe on the surface, neglect doesn’t sound as bad as hitting someone, but in the end, the consequences are just as serious,” Zhenmei Zhang says in the article.

In part two of the series, the Free Press takes a look at some troubled nursing homes with disturbing cases in their past that are still open.

One nursing home in particular that remains operating despite its status as Michigan’s lowest-performing, according to federal ratings, “shows the glacial pace of nursing home reform in Michigan—where a substandard home can linger for years, racking up violations, but staying open for business.”

The three-part series ends on a more positive note, however, detailing how some nursing homes that may look rundown and substandard actually have top state ratings.

“In short, it’s what your mother always aid: Looks are nice, but it’s what’s inside that counts,” the Free Press says.

In these facilities, care quality and stability of staffing are what’s important, rather than newly-renovated or modernized facilities. Other top-rated nursing homes have a patient-centered model that lets residents retain autonomy over their schedule and preferences.

Interested in reading the original Detroit Free Press articles? Go here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace