Mother speaks out in wake of son's death at group home - | WBTV Charlotte

Mother speaks out in wake of son's death at group home

Billie Clark (Corey Schmidt | WBTV) Billie Clark (Corey Schmidt | WBTV)
30-year-old Gregory Clark (Corey Schmidt | WBTV) 30-year-old Gregory Clark (Corey Schmidt | WBTV)
Linoak Group Home (Corey Schmidt | WBTV) Linoak Group Home (Corey Schmidt | WBTV)
LINCOLNTON, NC (WBTV) -

When Billie Clark's phone rang the week before Christmas, the voice on the other end gave her news no mother wants to hear.

It was a staff member from the Linoak Group Home, where her son lived, telling her to get to the hospital.

Her son, 30-year-old Gregory Clark, had nearly drowned in a bath tub.

"He said 'your son drowned and you need to come down here,'" Clark recalled. "I was mad on account I knew something had happened."

Clark's son would be transferred from the hospital in Lincolnton to Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville, where he died one day later.

In the wake of her son's death, Clark said a staff member told her Gregory had been left unattended in the shower, something she said shouldn't have been done.

But, in a phone call with On Your Side Investigates, top leaders for the company that owns the group home said staff followed proper procedures.

"We're an organization that takes pride in good quality care and support for the people we support in the community," said Gordon Simmons, CEO of RHA Health Services, the company that owns Linoak.

"The individual, which I can't name, was permitted to have time alone in the activity he was involved with prior to the accident," Simmons said. "It's not a situation where someone was neglected or left unattended."

But Simmons later conceded Gregory Clark was supposed to be monitored during bathing, a distinction he and other company officials said is different from being supervised.

It is not clear whether staff properly monitored Clark as required. RHA Health Services is required by law to complete a report of the incident, investigate what happened and submit its finding to state regulators.

In a phone call Monday, Simmons declined to provide a copy of its report.

Simmons said there was nothing the group home would change following the incident because nothing was done improperly leading up to Gregory Clark's death.

"We staff our group homes very well with trained employees. We have clinical oversight, clinical supervision, we do safety checks, we do dozens of things a month to ensure that care, treatment, service practices, safety in the building, et cetra are in good shape," Simmons said.

But Billie Clark thinks more could have been done to prevent her son's death. She wishes she could give him one last message.

"I'd say I love you and I wish I could have done more."

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