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PMH nurse fight for life

‘For everyone that thinks this is a joke, it’s real’

While hooked up to an oxygen machine fighting for her life yesterday, Nurse Judyann Johnson, a 55-year-old mother of one, said she tested positive for COVID-19 just over a week ago.

Johnson, who was transferred to Doctors Hospital West around 2 a.m. yesterday, believes she was exposed to the virus while working at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).

She said she volunteered to work with patients who tested negative for COVID-19, but who had to remain in hospital for other issues.

Nurse Judyann Johnson.

Johnson said she remembered assisting a patient who she did not know was positive.

“The ward was very hot, but I had my mask on,” she said.

“The sweat was draining off me. The doctor came in to check his status and she said he was positive. He was in A&E for two days. The only reason they swabbed him was because he was in a bad accident and he needed to have a COVID-19 test before he went into the theatre.”

The nurse said while she did not know who else she might have been exposed to, her symptoms began showing right away.

Johnson began experiencing severe symptoms last week Monday.

“Body aches were terrible,” she said.

“It felt like a million trucks were on top of my body. I lost my sense of taste and smell.”

She said she woke up in so much pain, she felt as though she got stabbed in her breast.

She was home alone.

Johnson said she attempted to get help from her colleagues at Princess Margaret Hospital.

“I called employee health around 10 a.m., and they asked me if I called the ambulance,” she said.

“I remember hanging up on them.”

Her voice began to fade as she struggled to breathe.

Her words became unclear as she toiled to tell her story.

As her voice began to come back, Johnson said she made another attempt to get help.

She was in distress.

“The secretary general from the (nurses) union came to drop something off to me, but she didn’t like how I looked,” Johnson said.

“She said she was going to call Amancha Williams, union president, to see what’s going on. She then had to call the PNO (principal nursing officer) to see if they could expedite an ambulance.”

According to Johnson, the ambulance arrived around 5 p.m.

Johnson has diabetes.

“My sugar is very high,” she said.

“They check it every two hours.”

When asked if she thinks she is going to beat COVID-19, Johnson told The Nassau Guardian, “I fighting it. I praying.”

She said she watched as people around her died on the Legacy Ward at PMH, which hosts COVID-19-positive patients.

“I shall live and not die,” she said confidently.

Johnson’s voice shook as she added, “For everyone that thinks this is a joke, it’s real.

“I never thought I would have been in the hospital in the Legacy Ward. They used to tell me the horror stories. I used to smile and encourage them. I would treat them and make sure they were relaxed. I never knew I would have been in where they [were].”

The pediatric nurse has not been able to keep in touch with her only child.

“He is currently incarcerated,” she cried.

“I only could imagine what he is going through right now. He’s my all in all. He has two girls. I miss my two grand baby girls.”

Johnson continued, “I feel for the patients whose family can’t reach them. Some of them will die alone.”

Although Johnson was still on an oxygen tank yesterday, she was hopeful that she will go home soon. 

“My whole body is in pain,” she said.

“My sugar is so high. It’s like 500. That’s the underlying issue. I want to get better. I want to see my son. I want to see my family. I want to see my friends.”

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Italia Clarke

Italia Clarke joined the Nassau Guardian in August 2020. Clarke covers national, human interest and social issues. Education: University of The Bahamas, BA in Media Journalism

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