'I just miss my mom:' Triangle woman says mother died alone from COVID-19

HENDERSON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Geraldine Wiggins never got a chance to say goodbye to her mother, who died from COVID-19 just a few weeks ago.

"She's one of a kind. She was my mama, my sister. My everything," she said.

Wiggins said Mother's Day was painful.

"I really didn't go nowhere. Stayed at home. Looking at pictures and things," she said.

Valentine's Day was the last time she saw her mother, Irene Wright, who lived at Pelican Health Nursing Home in Vance County.

Wiggins said on that day, staffers put a crown on her mom's head and made her feel special.

"She was named the queen. It made me happy to see her smiling," Wiggins said.

But on April 22, Wright's health declined dramatically. Wiggins says she got a call at 2:30 a.m. that her mom was rushed to the hospital with symptoms of COVID-19.

The test came back positive.

"I just felt helpless. Couldn't do nothing. Couldn't see her, couldn't go over there. Nothing I could do," Wiggins said.

Administrators at Pelican Health told ABC11 that Wright's diagnosis prompted them to voluntarily test staffers and residents the following day.

Wiggins said her mother was also treated for pneumonia.

"The nurse was in the room and she answered the phone," Wiggins recalled. "I asked her if she could put the phone up against my mother's ear -- she did -- I said 'Mom, I want you to get well, and I love you.' She said, 'I love you too.'"

But Wright never recovered.

Three days later she needed CPR, but Wiggins said it was too late.

Wright, 81, died alone.

"Your mom's heart is too weak they don't think that she's going to make it," Wiggins said the nurses told her. "The next thing I knew she was gone. Here I am still helpless. I just miss my mom."

There are 150 cases of COVID-19 in Vance County, and 45 of them are at Pelican Health.

Wright was the first person to lose her battle with the virus at the nursing home.

Wiggins said her mother's funeral lasted 15 minutes with only a handful of people present.

"It really wasn't a home-going for my mother," Wiggins said. "I wouldn't wish that on nobody. It's hard."
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