Nearly 15,000 Illinois residents have been tested this month for the COVID-19 virus with nearly 1,900 confirmed cases and 19 deaths.
The numbers in Montgomery County aren’t as staggering yet, although 35 residents have been tested with 18 negative results and 17 pending tests.
Litchfield resident Mary Bathurst is grateful to be among those testing negative for the pandemic now sweeping the country and the world.
“Dr. Phil Johnson called me on Sunday to tell me my test was negative,” Bathurst said, after enduring a whirlwind couple of weeks trying to find some answers.
On Tuesday, March 10, Bathurst took her sister to Springfield for some minor surgery, and while she was there, she was feeling fine and decided to run some errands.
“By that night, I had a scratchy throat, and by Wednesday, I felt awful and had a temperature of 101.8,” she said. “It just flattened me. I was coughing all night, although I didn’t have any congestion.”
She remained in her home taking care of herself until Friday, when she visited her nurse practitioner, Krystle Wisnasky, at Litchfield Family Practice Center.
“She listened to my lungs and said she heard a rattling,” Bathurst said. “She was worried it could be early pneumonia.”
They prescribed Tamiflu for her symptoms and a round of antibiotics in case it was pneumonia. Bathurst also asked for a flu swab, so she could know if she had the flu. Just before getting sick, Bathurst had all her kids and grandkids over for dinner at her house, and she wanted to make sure they were okay too.
Her flu test results came back negative, and watching the news, she was starting to worry she had COVID-19.
“All my symptoms were exactly what everyone was talking about,” Bathurst said.
In addition, she and her husband, Lonnie, had traveled to Florida earlier in the year.
“So, on Sunday night, I called the Illinois Department of Public Health and after listening to my whole story, they told me I didn’t meet the criteria for the testing,” she said.
Feeling frustrated as her symptoms were not getting any better, Bathurst reached out on Facebook. She said that a mutual friend did some research for her and encouraged her to contact Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, as they had opened a drive-through testing facility. Bathurst called and left a message.
In the meantime, her doctor’s office at Litchfield Family Practice Center called her back and suggested she come to their office for a COVID-19 test. They instructed Bathurst to pull around to the back of the building and not to get out of her car. A staff member placed a large trash bag outside on a chair, and Dr. Johnson and Wisnasky came out to the car with clear face masks and fully covered from head to toe.
After taking her blood pressure and temperature, they administered the test, warning her it would be uncomfortable.
“It’s a feeling like you’ve never felt before,” she said. “The stick has a brush on the end of it, and they stick it all the way up your nose scraping skin cells. I thought they were trying to punch through to my brain. ”
The doctor told her he didn’t know how long they would have to wait for results, and as Bathurst and her husband were leaving, the doctor and nurse put all their protective gear in the trash can outside the facility.
Adding to her drama, the same day as her COVID-19 test in Litchfield, Bathurst heard back from Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. They were unaware of any testing being offered outside the Springfield area and insisted Bathurst come up for a test. They told her they would run a full respiratory panel first, and that if it came back negative, they would run a COVID-19 test.
Bathurst complied and had the testing done in Springfield, although she is still awaiting those results as tests are being sent to North Carolina.
On Sunday afternoon, March 22, nearly a full week after being tested for COVID-19, Bathurst said she received a call from Dr. Johnson that her test was negative, much to her relief.
Bathurst said she is finally starting to feel better, although she does continue to self-quarantine in her home.
“If someone tells you no, find another number to call, because you have to be your own advocate,” Bathurst encourages residents.
For more information about the latest cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health at www.dph.illinois.gov.