Gerald man’s death was first due to COVID-19 in Franklin County

By Linda Trest, Staff Writer
Posted 5/20/20

Due to a series of unfortunate events, John W. Kolditz, 85, of Gerald, was the first Franklin County death attributed to COVID-19.

Jesse Bogan’s article, “‘Sheer Panic’: …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Gerald man’s death was first due to COVID-19 in Franklin County

Posted

Due to a series of unfortunate events, John W. Kolditz, 85, of Gerald, was the first Franklin County death attributed to COVID-19.

Jesse Bogan’s article, “‘Sheer Panic’: How the coronavirus swept through a Franklin County nursing home” in stltoday.com provided some initial facts. Minnie Kolditz, John’s wife of 63 years, provided others to The Republican.

The Kolditzes moved to Gerald several years ago from Alton, Ill. After their move, John provided some assistance to the Gerald Area Library, drawing from his volunteer work in Alton. He was an avid reader and often purchased bagfuls of books from the library’s bookstore.

Last November, John became ill with pneumonia and spent some time at Mercy Washington. He was then transferred to Grandview Healthcare Center nursing home in Washington for rehabilitation.

In mid-March, Kolditz fell out of his bed at Grandview and was taken to the emergency room at Mercy with a broken bone in his upper leg. Minnie says he spent quite some time in the ER before being transferred to a room.

Bogan’s reporting says that Kolditz returned to Grandview on the same day, March 21, that the Missourian reported the news that “a Mercy employee had tested positive” for COVID-19.” The Missourian further stated that patients and co-workers “who may have been in contact with this provider are being contacted.”

Bogan says, “A Mercy record surfaced indicating that a message had been left somewhere for Kolditz, recommending that he quarantine because he was possibly exposed to an emergency room doctor who’d tested positive for COVID-19.” According to Bogan, Mercy said it found no connection between the infected doctor and Kolditz. Bogan also states Mercy declined to say if a warning had been sent to Kolditz.

Minnie believes such a message may have been sent to John’s cell phone, which he was unable to use at the time.

Back at Grandview, John had developed symptoms that seemed normal for an elderly, post-operative surgical patient. On March 26, it became apparent that Kolditz was suffering from COVID-19. And by then it had spread through the nursing home.

Minnie says that visits to the nursing home had been suspended in early March, so neither she nor their five children were exposed to the virus through John. It also meant that John would die alone, without family at his side.

“He was going downhill after the virus,” Minnie remembers. “He wanted to come home.”

Minnie and the rest of the family were able to gather outside his window to wave. They were able to speak with him on the phone, until his breathing became so labored he was unable to speak. At that point, a nurse would relay their messages to him, but he was unable to respond.

“He had excellent care at Grandview,” Minnie says. She is especially grateful to the nurse who stayed with her husband in his last few hours, “She just held his hand most of that last evening.”

John was born in Detroit, but moved to Alton as a young child. Minnie was born and raised in Alton, where the couple married in 1957. Their five children are now scattered throughout the country. The family plans to bury John’s cremains in the Godfrey, Ill. area. Minnie is now contemplating her future without John. She says she may move from Gerald to be closer to family.

 

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment