On March 11, St. Mary’s Health Care System marks the second anniversary of the COVID-19 epidemic by placing about 2,700 white flags on the lawns of its hospitals in Athens, Lavonia and Greensboro, according to a press release on Tuesday.
Each flag represents a COVID-19 inpatient receiving care at one of these three hospitals for the past two years.
“We recognize those who were not only hospitalized but died of COVID because of the severity of their infection,” said Montez Carter, system president and CEO. “These deaths have been tragic for the families and harsh for our staff, who not only provide exceptional care but also serve as eyes, ears, hands and hearts for family members who cannot be with their loved ones while in hospital.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide epidemic.
The Franklin family from Monticello – Ronnie, Angela and Dorothy – joined colleagues and volunteers at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens. Ronnie spent 112 days in four hospitals, including St. Mary’s, in the fight against COVID. His mother Dorothy spent 71 days battling the disease at St. Mary’s and Ronnie’s wife, Angela, strived to be as close and supportive as possible as her loved ones fought for their lives.
“I’m so grateful to be here,” Ronnie said, noting that he and Dorothy continue to have shortness of breath as a result of their long battle with the disease, according to the press release. “I’m grateful we’re alive.”
Colleagues, volunteers and visitors planted about 1,500 flags at St. Mary’s, nearly 800 at Sacred Heart and over 400 at Good Samaritans.
“With this observance, we are marking a gloomy anniversary for our world, our nation, our community and our Ministry of Health,” said Julie Carter, St. Mary’s Vice President of Mission Services. “As we plant these flags, we invite our colleagues and our communities to reflect on how this pandemic has affected us all, and to look forward to the promise of better times in the future.”