‘Better than Christmas’: 100-year-old Northwood resident survives COVID-19

When Kathleen Murphy’s family got the call two weeks ago that the 100-year-old Northwood resident had COVID-19, they feared the worst.

Murphy’s daughter, Cathy Walker, said they were devastated by the diagnosis.

Every day, the family would watch the province’s daily briefings, hearing the number of cases continue to rise. They would see that many of the province’s deaths related to the virus were at Northwood.

But on Saturday, the family was told that 100-year-old Murphy was free of the virus.

“It’s like a miracle,” Walker said, adding that it was an emotional phone call to receive.

‘Better than Christmas’

Murphy’s granddaughter, Kim Stewart, said the family is thrilled.

“The nursing staff said her lungs are clearer than half the staff in there, that she is doing amazingly well,” said Stewart. “This is better than Christmas.”

Walker said her mom turned 100 on March 22. The family planned to hold a big celebration at the long-term care home, but the home closed its doors to visitors before her birthday.

Walker said Northwood staff threw Murphy a tea party. The family could join in by video link so they could see Murphy cut her cake.

Kathleen Murphy, 100, lives at Northwood long-term care home in Halifax. (Submitted by Kim Stewart)

Her mom has lived at Northwood for 2½ years and Walker said “that’s her home.”

Stewart said the family was worried when they learned of the positive test, but nursing staff were “consistently optimistic.”

“[They] gave us an honest update every day — whether she was sitting up, whether she was able to eat. And that really gave our family something to look forward to daily,” Stewart said.

She sent her grandmother a card. Other family members wrote her letters to try and keep her spirits up.

“We were saying if anyone could beat it, it would be Nanny. She’s always had such an even outlook,” Stewart said.

Family grateful to staff

Walker said it was hard for the family to stay hopeful when there was “so much negative.”

“Nova Scotia has been a mess for a month, with COVID, with the [mass] shooting and now the helicopter [crash] and it affects us all,” Walker said.

Walker said the family is incredibly grateful to the hard work of Northwood staff.

Stewart said the nursing home staff will decide on Monday whether her grandmother will be moved to the hotel set up for those who have recovered.

She said the family hopes once the restrictions are lifted to bring Murphy to the Annapolis Valley to celebrate her 100th birthday.

“We’ll just have a wonderful family reunion,” she said. “Food and music and just lots of love.”

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