GALLATIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Sumner County leads the state in fatal cases of COVID-19. There have been four deaths there, two them at a Gallatin nursing home.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates first broke the story last week of the outbreak at the Gallatin Center For Rehabilitation and reminds us now of what a heartbreaking time this has become.
"She's not just a person who died from the nursing home with Coronavirus. She was a person. And she was my mom," Debbie Bolton told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
Her mom was Clara Summers, but everyone called her Ruth. And everyone from her kids to her grand kids and great grandkids loved her.
"My mama always said she was going to live to be a hundred," Bolton recalled.
But Summers passed away just days after turning 89. So instead of celebrating her birthday, her family is now planning her funeral.
"Every time I talked to her, she would tell me, 'I'm just not feeling good. I'm just not feeling good,'" Bolton shared.
Bolton said her mom had been running a fever, having trouble breathing, and had a very low heart rate. The facility was concerned enough they started monitoring her more regularly.
"So for a week, she was sick?" we asked Bolton.
"And was she isolated?" we wondered.
"No, ma'am," Bolton told us.
Bolton said the nursing home never moved her mom out the room she shared or kept her away from other residents on her hall. And Bolton says she was the one who had to insist her mom be taken to the hospital last Wednesday and tested for Coronavirus.
The next day, her results showed she was positive. Administrators then acknowledged they had a patient with COVID 19 though they insisted there was nothing to worry about.
One day later, emergency crews in hazmat suits began evacuating other residents who had also tested positive or had started showing symptoms.
"They are the ones that have been on my heart. Even worrying about Mama, I was worrying about them too. They're precious," Bolton shared.
Bolton said the last time she saw her mom was three weeks ago, right before the facility went on lockdown. They talked and ate pizza together.
"If I'd have known that day it was the last day I was going to see her, I'd have took her home with me that day," Bolton said through tears.
"I thought when the nursing home in Washington State when that come out, I thought they would figure out a way to keep 'em safe, the other nursing homes," she added.
Summers' family said she was funny, feisty, and loved to read the Bible from cover to cover.
Mom and daughter talked many times a day. And seeing her phone light up, saying "Granny" is on the line is what Bolton said she's going to miss most.
"I would have just hung up with her and she'd call right back and me going, 'What does she want now?' But I would give anything if I could see my phone and it say "Granny" one more time," Bolton said.
Bolton said it broke her heart that she couldn't be with her mom when she died. So she is very grateful to a nurse at Sumner Regional who she only knows as "Suz" who promised that she would stay by Ruth Summers' side and she told Bolton she was there holding her hand when she passed.
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COUNTY-BY-COUNTY CASES IN TENNESSEE
What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.
What are the symptoms?
The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Or at least two of the following symptoms:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.
The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.