Man says nursing home neglected mother, 91, for months

by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Charlotte man reached out to Channel 9 for help, saying his concerns about his mother's care at local nursing home went unanswered.

Charlie Norwood said he has filed multiple complaints with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services nursing home licensure board about the conditions inside Wilora Lake Healthcare Center in east Charlotte.

"I feel like I'm not doing enough for her, I feel like I'm letting her down," Norwood told Eyewitness News about his attempts to advocate for his mother, 91-year-old Elizabeth Torrence.

Norwood said Torrence moved into Wilora Lake in 2011 and experienced a wound on her heel after a nursing assistant removed shoes from Torrence's swollen feet.

"It just started going downhill from there. They referred us to a wound doctor because they felt like she was in jeopardy of losing her foot," Norwood said.

Norwood said the outside specialist, who worked for Charlotte Dermatology, sent a letter to Wilora Lake management in June 2011 outlining the doctor's concerns and saying, in part, "Mrs. Torrence consistently states that she is not getting her medicine, nor is she getting the attention that she needs the only conclusion is that the patient is not improving due to non-compliance."

Norwood's complaints led to inspections at Wilora Lake in October 2013, where investigators wrote in federal Medicare records, "We substantiated some of [Norwood's] allegations and cited a deficiency." Further documents note that investigators found the facility failed to provide a clean dressing on a pressure sore that had developed on Torrence's buttocks.

But Norwood said, "The wounds were going on and on and not healing," and so he complained again.

A follow-up visit by NCDHHS in December 2013 "substantiated" a second allegation and found that nursing staff failed to order treatment for another pressure sore that had developed on Torrence, this time on her calf.

"To be treated this way at 91 years old, it's just like there's no dignity in life anymore," Norwood told Channel 9.

Eyewitness News sent management at Wilora Lake an extensive list of questions via email.

Management did not respond to Channel 9's request for comment by deadline.