SGMC's first-ever COVID-19 patient discharged just in time for Moody flyover

Published: May. 15, 2020 at 11:00 PM EDT
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By: Amber Spradley | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 15, 2020

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) – Lowndes County’s very first COVID-19 patient was discharged from South Georgia Medical Center Friday afternoon, just in time for a flyover-salute by Moody Air Force Base.

Florence Campbell was also an employee at Moody, and she was SGMC’s first-ever COVID-19 patient. She has been hospitalized there since March 5, battling the virus with underlying health issues and requiring intensive care.

"I’m trying not to cry,” Campbell’s physician at SGMC, Lynn Lee, said. “When we were in the elevator, she said, 'Okay, that's my doctor. Yea, she's always telling me what to do.'"

After winning her fight against coronavirus, employees lined the hallways for a farewell celebration, cheering as she was wheeled out of the facility.

Outside, she was reunited with her husband at last. Due to visitation restrictions amid the pandemic, the two had not seen each other since early March.

Just minutes before the unforgettable moment, Moody jets took to the sky in honor of healthcare workers continuing to battle the outbreak.

A-10C Thunderbolt IIs with the 75th Fighter Squadron, HC-130J Combat King IIs with the 71st Rescue Squadron and HH-60G Pavehawks with the 41st Rescue Squadron journeyed over medical facilities in Tifton, Albany, Moultrie, Thomasville and Tallahassee before making their way back to SGMC in Valdosta.

“These flyovers today are our way of saying 'thank you' to the heroes that are fighting COVID-19,” Thunderbolt II pilot Captain Jack Ladd said.

KeeKee Holmes, an inpatient rehab nurse at SGMC, joined many other healthcare workers outside the main entrance of the main campus for the show.

“We come to work every day, and we're saving patients’ lives,” inpatient rehab nurse KeeKee Holmes said. “And it just means a lot to be acknowledged."

Chief Nursing Officer Brian Dawson says they have been working closely with medical teams at Moody throughout the pandemic, and he appreciates their support. He says Friday’s sighting is one he wouldn’t want to miss.

"We love to see the show of support they're giving us. And certainly, as an ex-army guy myself, I love to see the military come out and give their support to us the way they are,” he said.

Before all eyes were set on the sky, Chandra Jones, a Cardiac Cath Lab Technician at SGMC, raised her voice in support of her colleagues by singing the Star Spangled Banner.

“I just feel like it was just something that I was just led to do,” she told WCTV.

While Campbell has tested negative for the virus and is well enough to leave the hospital, she is still in recovery. Before she’s able to go home, she is transported to a nursing home for more treatment.
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