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Locals pushing for changes in nursing homes across Virginia after neglect investigations

Commonwealth’s Attorney, family talking to lawmakers about changes they say are needed

Some locals are pushing for changes in nursing homes at the state level.
Some locals are pushing for changes in nursing homes at the state level.

ROANOKE, Va. – Some locals are pushing for changes in nursing homes at the state level.

As we told you first on 10 News, charges aren’t being filed after an investigation into a Roanoke nursing home — but that’s not stopping some people who want more.

Changes could be coming for how your loved ones are taken care of, if Donald Caldwell and Julie Parsons get what they want.

“Virginia apparently is among many other states that provides little guidance within the law about the standards of care that are required for nursing homes or assisted living facilities. That presents a problem for criminal prosecution in that you don’t have a standard in which to gauge what has been done or not done,” said Caldwell, Roanoke City Commonwealth Attorney.

Caldwell knows that well. His office decided no charges could be filed after investigating three cases of possible neglect at Raleigh Court Health and Rehab Center, including 96-year old Helen Norfleet who died after two toes had to be amputated.

Caldwell says our 10 News investigation uncovering the major gaps in Virginia policies and laws showed exactly what needs to be done.

“You’ve done a good job of taking some examples of where the system is not doing as well as it can and you’ve done a comprehensive overview,” said Caldwell. “If you try to be sure that people get the best care possible, we need to take a hard look legislatively on what we’re going to require for businesses who operate in this area.”

We then asked if he will be talking to legislators.

“I will be. Delegate Head has a lot of experience in this area,” said Caldwell. “It might be that we could get something before the General Assembly as soon as this next session.”

Julie Parsons is Norfleet’s granddaughter.

“I feel devastated. I just have been so heartbroken not to have my nannie,” said Parsons.

After her death, Parsons became an advocate for others in nursing homes and says she will not stop pushing for change.

“I will advocate for change as long as I’m here on this earth. I think there needs to be some real strict guidance and regulations and some new laws put into place that protects our elders,” said Parsons.

“Evaluate what other states have done and then align that, staffing standards the number of people who are working on duty, those are all things that need to be addressed in order to have a criminal prosecution. But I would stress that having the ability to have a criminal prosecution is not really your goal. The goal is to have the best possible care that you could have for elderly patients who are in nursing facilities,” said Caldwell.

As we’ve reported, Virginia lawmakers tell 10 News more needs to be done to protect people in nursing homes and we’ll be watching what happens in Richmond at the capitol.

If you have concerns about a loved one’s care, there are several steps you can take. You can find that information here.

If you want to take a look at reports concerning this facility or any other you can look up reports on the VDH website here.

This is part of an in-depth 10 News investigation. Jenna Zibton is working for you, investigating different angles of what COVID-19 means for families with loved ones in nursing homes. Contact Jenna if you have questions at jzibton@wsls.com or on Facebook.


About the Author:

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m.