THOMASVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — New questions have been raised as the investigation into Pine Ridge Health and Rehabilitation Center continues this week

Thomasville Police spent two hours at the long-term care facility conducting a search warrant, possibly regarding the patient abuse allegations. 

It comes after Thomasville Police found only three staff members caring for nearly one hundred patients Sunday night during the winter storm. Two patients were found dead and two more were taken to the hospital in critical conditions.   

“I’m still furious, my dad is furious, everybody is furious,” said Natashia Nelson, whose father was a resident at the facility. “He could’ve been a third person that would’ve very well died in that facility.” 

Nelson told FOX8 her 71-year-old father John Velverton’s last memory of Pine Ridge was being taken away in an ambulance. She said on January 14th her father ringed for assistance from the staff, but help didn’t arrive until three days later when first responders showed up after a welfare call.

“He took that as his opportunity to go ahead and let one of the three people that was on duty, hey I need medical attention,” she said. “We are all that they have, so please check on them.” 

He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. 

Velverton was released from the hospital on Thursday and is not going back to Pine Ridge. He’s now in another facility. 

Nelson told FOX8 the Pine Ridge staff reported a staffing shortage behind the delay in care for her father.

According to North Carolina’s nursing staffing requirements, facilities do not have to have a specific number of staffing per number of residents but must have sufficient nursing staff to meet each resident’s needs.

“Residents still have rights in facilities,” said Heather Magill, the elder justice specialist coordinator at the Guilford County Family Justice Center. “Just because someone goes into a long-term care facility doesn’t mean they no longer have rights.”

Magill told FOX8 if you do not feel your loved one is getting the care and support they deserve to speak up.  

“Are they becoming depressed, do they flinch when you get close to them, does their hygiene start to look a lot different, are you starting to notice bed sores,” she said. 

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, one in 10 Americans 60 or older have experienced elder abuse. One study estimates only one in 24 cases is reported to authorities and the pandemic has only made it worse.

Nelson said it reminded her of what she saw visiting her father at Pine Ridge.

“Patients needing attention they would be hanging literally outside of their room in their wheelchairs,” Nelson said. “You could hear people moaning from the room, the stench in there was awful.” 

Magill said a phone call or visit to a loved one in a nursing facility could alert you to wrongdoing. If you can’t get in touch or visit, contact the facility. If you’re still concerned meet with your local area agency on aging.

“It is so important to hear their voice, to ask are you okay, has someone hurt you, it’s so important to touch base and have that human connection,” Magill said. “You are able to advocate, if you do not feel like your loved one is not getting the support that they need, the attention, the care that they need, say something, be their voice.” 

FOX8 has reached out to management of Pine Ridge, its owners Principle LTC and legal department representing them several times throughout the week but have not heard back. 

State officials are overseeing the control of the facility at this time. 

If you have a loved one in a nursing home that may be receiving poor care you can file a complaint with the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation either by mail or phone, 1-800-624-3004.