UPDATE: McLeod Seacoast reports first COVID-19 patient; Pastor says wife expects her test results Friday
By DEUCE NIVEN
& JENN CAUSEY
A McLeod Seacoast patient has been confirmed as testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, a post on the McLeod Loris Seacoast Facebook page said just after 7 p.m. Thursday.
Dr. Kim Strong, whose wife Margo is a patient at McLeod Seacoast and who was swabbed for the COVID-19 test Tuesday, said Thursday evening that they expect to receive her test results on Friday.
That would be consistent with a statement from McLeod Seacoast Wednesday, that said results from Mrs. Strong’s test were expected within 72 to 96 hours.
McLeod Seacoast cannot confirm or deny if Mrs. Strong is the person confirmed with the disease, or if it is someone else, because of federal privacy law, McLeod Health spokeswoman Kelly Hughes said.
Still in isolation at McLeod Seacoast, Mrs. Strong “had a better day” Thursday, Dr. Kim said. He thanked everyone “very, very much” for prayers on her behalf.
McLeod Seacoast is the first facility in the McLeod Health system with a confirmed COVID-19 case, the McLeod Loris Seacoast Facebook post said.
“Appropriate medical and safety precautions are being taken in the care of this patient, as with all patients at McLeod Health,” the post said. “McLeod Health is following all CDC guidelines regarding isolation of this patient and precautions for those involved in their care. Honoring the privacy of this patient and their family is part of our responsiveness to this diagnosis as well.
“We take this opportunity to reflect with gratitude on the dedication of our staff, their tireless efforts in these unprecedented times, as well as to reinforce to the community a sense of confidence that we continue to live out our values each and every day as teams committed to be the choice for medical excellence.”
“Thank you for helping us mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities as we seek to keep you informed.
“The safety and mitigation of the spread of this disease is our highest priority.”
Wednesday evening post
Test results for COVID-19 are pending, not confirmed for the wife of a Conway pastor who said she has the disease at the center of a national emergency that has shuttered schools, bars and restaurants with recommendations from state and federal leaders to practice social distancing.
Dr. Kim Strong and his wife Margo Strong late Tuesday expressed their frustration at being turned away from testing for the coronavirus at urgent care centers during the weekend, before being tested for COVID-19 at McLeod Seacoast on Tuesday.
Their situation was revealed first on the official Facebook page of Trinity United Methodist Church in Conway, where Dr. Strong is pastor. The couple later Tuesday confirmed the post, that said Margo Strong “was tested for the virus and this afternoon confirmed for COVID-19.”
McLeod Health spokeswoman Kelly Hughes provided a formal statement Wednesday afternoon that said while Mrs. Strong was tested for COVID-19, the results of that testing was not yet known.
“Based on her consent, we can confirm Mrs. Margo Strong is a patient at McLeod Health Seacoast hospital.,” the statement said. “Mrs. Strong did meet CDC guidelines for testing for COVID-19 and was administered the test. Test results may take 72-96 hours to receive.
“At this time, we have not received her test results and do not have confirmation of a positive COVID-19 patient at any of our McLeod Health hospitals.”
Dr. Strong said he was, and is convinced that his wife is infected with COVID-19, in part because an Emergency Room doctor at McLeod Seacoast told he and his wife that his examination convinced him. However, Dr. Strong said the results of the COVID-19 test given to his wife have not yet been returned.
A Longs family and larger church family in Conway has come face-to-face with the coronavirus, a post on the official Facebook page of Trinity United Methodist Church revealed late Tuesday.
Margo Strong, wife of Senior Pastor Dr. Kim Strong, has tested positive for COVID-19, the post said. Her husband said the diagnosis took longer than it should have.
The unsigned post said COVID-19 “has hit close to home,” revealing the diagnosis Tuesday afternoon.
“Both Margo and Pastor Kim have been battling the flu and she took a turn in the night,” the post said. “She was taken to a local hospital this morning and diagnosed with a blood clot in her lung, sepsis and viral pneumonia. She was tested for the virus and this afternoon confirmed for COVID-19.
“I ask that you include her in your prayers that she will be healed and that Pastor Kim will remain healthy. Everyone please shelter in place.”
Pastor Strong said he and his wife decided to make her diagnosis public because they had been turned away from several urgent care facilities before finally getting the answer they feared Tuesday.
He said they would tell their full story exclusively to Tabor-Loris Tribune.
“We tried to get her into urgent care last Saturday,” Dr. Strong said. “Went home and started feeling worse. Went to another urgent care online. Waited for 45 minutes and no one came online to talk to us.
“Last night (Tuesday) she started feeling worse. She texted me asking to take her to ER.”
A flu test came back negative, then a chest X-ray was given, looking for blood clots and viral pneumonia.
Now in isolation at McLeod Seacoast, Margo Strong will be under quarantine until the end of March.
A registered nurse who has worked at the Medical University of South Carolina at Charleston and in Rockville, Margo Strong has not travelled overseas, but did recently visit Spartanburg, where at least one person has been confirmed with the coronavirus, state health officials have said.
Margo is 59, otherwise healthy and has no pre-existing illness, her husband said. She said Tuesday night that COVID-19 had taken a toll on her, and that she was too weak to talk, but could communicate by text.
Her symptom, Margo Strong said, include “shortness of breath, headache, nausea, body aches, ribcage pain. Weak, very weak.”
In an earlier Facebook post, Dr. Strong announced the church had suspended services and all non-essential meetings through the end of March, at least.
In the post concerning Margo Strong, the church asked for prayer.
“Pray for the leadership of our nation, our states and local authorities, and please help the most vulnerable,” the post said. “A little common sense and sacrifice will not hurt any of us.”
Keep reading here, and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online, for updates on local impacts of the states and national responses to the coronavirus outbreak.