82-Year-Old Texas Woman in Hospice Defies Odds, Beats Coronavirus

Phyliss Shepherd’s family found unexpected joy when she defied all prognoses and recovered from the novel coronavirus.

Shepherd, 82, has been in a nursing facility for about a year, suffering from dementia. But when she became one of many worldwide victims of the novel coronavirus global pandemic — officially classified “COVID-19” by the World Health Organization — the outlook was not good. Her family was told she should be moved into hospice care in order to make her comfortable before the end of her life.

Then something changed.

Shepherd’s family rushed to her window when they got the news, hoping for the chance to say goodbye. What they saw shocked them — and gave them hope. “We got a call Wednesday, was a week ago, that they wanted her in hospice. They said you might want to come to see her the next day,” remembered her son, Ricky Shepherd. “So we all came the next day, expecting the worst. And when we got here she was alert, talking to us. Making jokes,” he said.

How do you feel? Well, I feel alright, until I see y’all,” she said with a laugh. Ricky said if she is joking, she is feeling okay. “Well, you look good,” he replied. “I know,” she laughed. Even the staff said they could tell she would pull through when they saw a familiar “spark” return to her eyes. “Humor and the Lord, that’s what carries us through everything. That’s how she’s raised us,” said Ricky.

Darcy Watson, Vice President of Operations for Westbury Administrative Services, explained that the battle against the global coronavirus pandemic has been difficult.

“Nursing homes cannot do the one single thing that has proven to be the preventative measure for contracting this disease which is social distance,” she told local CBS affiliate KENS 5. “Despite issuing each resident an N-95, the virus unleashed its fury and we had a hard time getting ahead of it before we lost some of our beloved. We’ve begun to compare ourselves to a cruise ship that’s boarded with the most vulnerable and compromised of passengers.”

Facing a PPE (Personal Protective Equipment, e.g. face masks) shortage, the staff put in their own money to buy $8 N95 masks for the residents. Now, they are seeing the fruits of their time, money, and effort. The nursing home threw a parade for the 55 residents that beat the bug and plan to host a party to celebrate when the threat is finally over. For Phyliss Shepherd and her family, this is an unexpectedly joyous step toward that end.

Shepherd’s husband, Harold, credited another source for the win: “It was an answered prayer, definitely an answered prayer,” he said.

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