KETTERING — Family members of Fairborn resident Sheila Johnson held a prayer vigil for her Thursday night as she battles complications from COVID-19.
Johnson has been in Kettering Medical Center for more than 30 days, and though she no longer tests positive for the virus, the damage the virus has done may be irreparable.
Johnson is believed to have contracted the virus after attending a service at Gates of Praise Church on Kauffman Avenue in Fairborn, where family members said she had attended for many years. Greene County Public Health officials identified at least 14 positive cases at the church in early June. Most of those individuals have recovered. However, Johnson has not, and remains in critical condition.
“Mom got a text on her phone, saying they had been exposed to the virus for the two weeks they were open,” said Angela Barnett, Johnson’s daughter. “Next day, she was having real bad back pain, so I took her to Soin. They did a rapid test and said she was COVID-positive.”
Barnett said her mom was doing well after being moved to the Kettering hospital for four days. On the fourth day, at 1:30 in the morning, she received a call saying her mother had been placed on a ventilator. Nearly a month later, on the date of the vigil, doctors conducted a tracheotomy, as Johnson’s body is now too weak to be compatible with the ventilator machine.
Family members said the church has not reached out to them to see how she is doing or to offer any condolences. Additionally, Barnett said Gates of Praise was irresponsible in the way they reopened, and that the pastor of the church needs to be held accountable.
“Any pastor will tell you, you have an obligation to protect your congregation,” she said. “And by protecting your congregation, you’re going to set up sanitizer, you’re going to set up masks, and you’re going to provide social distance. Gates of Praise has done none of that.”
Family members held the prayer vigil not only for Johnson but for all those suffering from the COVID-19 virus and for the heathcare workers who are taking care of them.
“My big thing is making sure no one else’s family has to go through this,” Barnett said. “It’s a living hell.”
Gates of Praise Church remains closed, and Greene County Public Health officials said the pastor has been cooperating with them to conduct contact tracing. The pastor could not be reached for comment.
However, in a post on its now-deleted Facebook page, the church said in part, “This is not the time to be angry or divided but time to stand together in unity. People are looking for someone to blame, let’s put the blame where it belongs. The devil!”
Reach London Bishop at (937) 502-4532
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