Michelle Thompson was volunteering in the COVID-19 wing at Signature Healthcare at Summit Manor Nursing Home when she became ill and later died after contracting the coronavirus.
She volunteered to work with nursing home residents who were isolated after testing positive for the virus, telling family members that it was her job and the residents at the nursing home needed her.
Thompson’s sister, Denise Carver, said Thompson was a loving person in many ways.
“She loved her family. She took care of my mother, who is elderly. She loved her dog, Bella; that was her baby,” Carver said. “She loved all the residents where she worked at, which is why she volunteered to work the COVID unit when it opened.”
Carver said family members were apprehensive, especially since Thompson had diabetes and was considered a high risk of serious illness if she contracted the disease, but she said she had to do it.
“If I don’t, who will? I have to take care of these people,” Carver said Thompson told her family.
Residents and their families also loved Thompson.
Barbara Shepherd, whose mother, Mary Bryant, was a resident at the long-term care facility, recalls how Thompson interacted with the residents she cared for.
“Michelle was a kind, gentle soul who loved the residents, their families and the feeling was mutual. There wasn’t anything superficial about her and she had a deep-seated passion to serve others,” Shepherd said. Shepherd’s mother was in a wing of the nursing home for residents who had been exposed to the virus when she died in April.
Thompson, who died on Thursday, April 30, is the second nursing home resident from Signature Healthcare at Summit Manor to die from COVID-19. Both employees, Thompson, 58, and Pamela Hughes, 50, who died on April 13, are the only two long term healthcare workers in Kentucky believed to have died from the virus.
When Thompson started feeling ill she was diagnosed with the flu. The next day, the test for COVID-19 also came back positive.
Signature Healthcare confirmed the death of a second employee in a release dated May 1 but did not name the staff member.
“The loss of any of our residents or staff, for any reason, is devastating and we ask the community to keep the family of our staff member in your thoughts and prayers. Our Signature Healthcare family is holding our staff member’s family closely in our hearts and prayers as well,” the release stated.
Carver said her sister would dance and sing in the hallways, bringing laughs and sometimes comments from the residents.
“One of the patients would kind of holler at her sometimes, ‘Hey, let the radio do it,’” Carver laughed. Thompson always dressed up on Halloween to help entertain the residents, her sister added.
Shepherd said residents appreciated Thompson’s bright attitude and friendly nature.
“At times she could be light hearted and a comedian in her own right, with plans to one day win the Lotto,” Shepherd said. “She made her mark at Summit Manor Nursing Home and is now walking the streets of gold.”
By Sharon Burton