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Salem woman speaks out about alleged abuse at local nursing home

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 8:34 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - We don’t know how much words can mean, until we can no longer hear them.

“My nanny was everything,” says Julie Parsons, through tears.

Parsons saw her grandmother, Helen Norfleet, for the last time November 20, 2020.

She was 96 years old. According to her death certificate she died from acute renal failure, pleural effusion, pneumonia, failure to thrive, dementia, osteomyelitis on the left foot and several other factors.

But it’s the months before Norfleet’s passing that stand out the most to Parsons, who visited her grandmother every day at Raleigh Court Health and Rehabilitation Center.

“Raleigh Court worked well for us. And then March 2020 hit, March the 13th to be exact, and that was the last time I was allowed in that facility to see my grandmother,” said Parsons.

Daily in-person visits began happening through a window or a computer screen.

Parsons says she slowly watched her nanny’s hygiene decline.

“Her hair would be so greasy it would look wet,” said Parsons.

At the beginning of September, Parsons found out her grandmother tested positive for COVID-19. According to her caregivers, she was asymptomatic, and was doing well.

One day later, Parsons called the facility to check in, and was told her grandmother had fallen out of her bed, resulting in severe bruising on her face.

“I was devastated by that, because she had bumper pads on her bad that I was told at the time of her fall were not on her bed.”

Parsons got a call October 4, saying her nanny had a wound on two of her toes.

Three weeks later on October 21, Parsons says she was told the wound had gotten so bad, amputation was necessary.

That night, Norfleet was taken to Lewis Gale. It was the first time Parsons got to see her grandmother since March.

“The doctor came in at that time and removed the bandage from her foot. And at that point I literally collapsed. It was the most horrible, disgusting thing I had ever seen in my life. My grandmother’s toes had gotten so bad, and so infected that the bone was exposed,” said Parsons.

Amputation took place, but Norfleet stayed in the hospital for a little over a week. It was on that hospital bed that Parsons also saw bruising all over her grandmother, from her chest to her arms.

October 30, Parsons filed a police report, which resulted in an affidavit that’s for a search warrant for Norfleet’s medical records at Raleigh Court Health and Rehab.

Three days later Norfleet was discharged and taken to a different facility, but November 18, Parsons got a call that her nanny was not doing well.

“She was not herself. She told me that night she was dying. My nanny went to sleep and on November 20th, my nanny went to heaven,” said Parsons.

The only peace Parsons says she has is that her nanny is no longer suffering.

One of the last things Parsons said to her nanny was a promise.

“And I told her, I promise you, I will fight for you, I will get justice for you, and for the so many other people who are victims of this abuse and neglect.”

Right now, Parsons is waiting to see if the commonwealth’s attorney for Roanoke City will pursue criminal charges against Raleigh Court Health and Rehab.

Until then, she looks at pictures, and the recorded “I love you’s,” knowing her nanny is watching from above.

We reached out to Raleigh Court Health and Rehabilitation, asking the administrator Chance Craft if he could verify Norfleet was a patient at the facility. This was Craft’s response:

“There are multiple laws at both the state and federal level that strictly forbid healthcare providers from talking with the media about individuals and/or healthcare records. Therefore, we cannot respond to this request. I hope that you understand.”

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