Family of Roanoke woman who died in hospice in June says she should not have been there in the first place

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Last week, WFXR News brought you a story about something no family wants to experience: having a loved one die without getting to say goodbye.

Novella Wilson of Roanoke passed away at the age of 65 at Roanoke Memorial Hospital — alone — on June 27. Up until then, she had been a resident at a local nursing home and also a psychiatric hospital.

Roanoke Social Services would not allow WFXR News access to documents on Wilson due to the confidentiality of her case.

Wilson’s daughter-in-law, Bernadette Lark, however, was able to acquire the documents herself and gave WFXR News permission to take a look.

Lark began with a vacate notice from late March 2018, addressed to her and her husband, from Wilson’s newly court-appointed guardian at the time.

Notice to Vacate addressed to Bernadette Lark and her husband DeRon, dated March 30, 2018.

“However, everyone agreed she needed assistance at home,” Lark said.

Wilson’s guardian cited in the notice that, since being appointed on March 2, 2018, Wilson’s family prohibited evaluators from entering the property to perform assessments on Wilson and that she wasn’t receiving public services.

Lark says it was the guardian who cancelled assessment appointments, and even showed WFXR News an assessment that was done just two weeks prior to the guardian’s appointment, as well as a log of weekly visits from a home health company.

Virginia Uniform Assessment Instrument performed on Novella Wilson, dated Feb. 16, 2018.

“…Providing services in the home when they claimed Novella was abandoned. Here is the contract, signed on March 15… had permission to come into the home to provide services for Miss Novella,” Lark said.

Lark says the guardian had not once visited Wilson, from the time of being appointed as her guardian to the time Wilson was taken from her home.

“…So there was no way possible for her to get to know what those needs are, other than to go by the home assessment, which says Miss Novella was fine living at home with care,” Lark said.

Wilson’s son and Lark’s husband, DeRon, recalls the day she was taken away.

“We were together that day, ” he said. “I had taken her out to lunch. I went to do some work at the library, the Gainsboro library. I told her I’d be right back.”

After filing complaints, Wilson’s guardian was removed from her case, but the family says the replacement wasn’t much better.

Over the next two years, Wilson stayed at three different facilities, where her condition slowly deteriorated until she died of cancer at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in late June.

Lark believes her mother-in-law’s case is not an isolated one. In fact, Lark’s family is using this loss as a way to make other families aware of the importance of contacting loved ones, especially when visitation is not an option.

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