HOUSTON - A Texas lawmaker who has been vocal about her concerns regarding COVID19 in nursing homes is now personally affected by the virus. As the Chair of the House Public Health Committee State Representative Senfronia Thompson has been fighting for Texans to keep COVID19 out of nursing homes but that is exactly where her sister became infected with the virus.
"It was really frightening and it was very difficult,” says Representative Thompson.
Last Monday State Representative Thompson’s sister, Carolyn Johnson, was rushed to the hospital suffering severe shortness of breath.
"They had to do CPR on her. When she got to the hospital she was diagnosed with COVID19 and they put her in an induced coma and put her on a ventilator."
When the pandemic first hit the U.S. Thompson called a committee hearing on March 10th to find out how Texas would protect nursing home residents. “The state health department, Dr. Hellerstedt talked about how they’re doing all they can do”, Including unannounced inspections.
Rep. Thompson followed up with a letter to the state May 1, detailing concerns about outbreaks of the virus in long term care facilities.
Then last week her sister, a nursing home resident was hospitalized, diagnosed with COVID-19.
"One thing I do know is this, my sister does not go outside of the nursing home. So if she got Coronavirus it had to be taken inside to her."
Thompson says perhaps the answer to stop the spread is better education.
"I see a lot of people who won’t wear a mask and they think if they can’t see it, it’s invisible and they think it doesn’t exist” but her sister and millions of others are proof COVID19 is real and wreaking havoc around the world.
A day after her 75-year-old sister was admitted into the hospital, Thompson got a call from a palliative care doctor.
"The gravity of her conversation was like maybe I need to go and start thinking about whether or not I should be making final arrangements for her."
Instead, the lawmaker had a talk with God. "I thought that what I needed to do was talk to the great physician. I had a long conversation with the great physician and after I did I had a calmness, a peace within me. I can look at my sister and testify to you that he has raised her up from the brink of death back to life. I have learned during my lifetime if you do all the things you’re supposed to do and you rely on the man upstairs he can do exceedingly, abundantly above all, and the word all is inclusive, than we can ever expect."
As we try to claim victory over the virus the state representative says she hopes more people will take COVID-19 seriously.
"I want them to take all the precautions they can and if there is something they believe we can do better to make things better at our nursing homes and public places give us a call. We don’t have all the solutions."
Her sister is now awake from her coma. Although she’s still on a ventilator, Thompson says she is slowly improving.
“I want to thank God for blessing my sister. I’m looking forward to being able to take her favorite meal to her when she comes back to the nursing home and being able to sit down and talk to her and tell her about the ordeal”.