MT. CARMEL — Sounds of laughter and chatter from a television set in another room were especially cruel for Susan Porter’s brother.
That, and the lack of a blanket or a clock.
“He was just lying there without anything while they were partying in another room,” Porter said. “He couldn’t see the TV. He couldn’t even tell what time it was.”
James Renner, 50, was dying of lung cancer and confined to a hospital bed set up in the front room of his Mount Carmel home.
Before his physical condition deteriorated in the fall of 2010, putting him nearly unable to move, he had given a teenage caregiver power of attorney, leaving the youth in charge of his care. Renner knew he probably had only months to live.
Porter and her daughter, April Head, often found that Renner was left alone all night, they said. She said the caregiver and his girlfriend would join other young people and party, usually in the kitchen, virtually ignoring Renner.
“I wanted my brother out of there and in a nursing home,” she said. “But I’m bossy. They didn’t like it when I was there. They finally wouldn’t let me see him.”
On Nov. 24, 2010, Porter called the disabled adult hotline maintained by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Human Services. According to a copy of the call summary, she alleged that her brother was being neglected and not receiving his pain medication through a suppository as his physician prescribed. Instead, she said, he was given morphine orally until he passed out.
“Ms. Porter is very upset that the family engaged in alcohol and marijuana abuse while Mr. Renner was left unattended,” the call summary stated.
“If she could have gotten him out of that home and into a nursing home, he probably would have lived for a few more months,” said another of Porter’s daughters, Dana Crump.
Renner died Nov. 27, 2010, three days after his sister’s call.
Porter’s complaint was labeled “non-reportable” because her brother had died. A final report stated, “Ms. Porter was alerted that this incident fails to meet the criteria for rule 51 assistance, as the issue has been resolved and abuse and neglect were not a factor in the death of Mr. Renner.”