A hospital, and a family, lost during the pandemic

Latasha Taylor
For years, Latasha Taylor resisted her mother’s requests to join her in the garden at sunrise. She keeps this memory with her ever since her mother died from Covid-19 in 2020. Taylor said she waters her mom’s plants out of duty.

DAWSON, Ga. — When the days feel too hard, Latasha Taylor finds peace standing in the shower for long periods of time, letting the water wash over her. She had been feeling overwhelmed as she had started to remodel her mother’s home earlier this year. Outside, in the beautiful garden her mother, Kat, had nurtured day after day, the flower bushes were now overgrown. “My mother loved flowers,” Taylor said. 

With spring in full glory and the first anniversary of her mother’s death approaching, Taylor was constantly reminded of her loss  — as well as the passing of her aunt and uncle — all from Covid-19. 

Friends tell Taylor she’s strong, but she doesn’t feel that way. “If you had to, you would do what I did,” she said. “Bury your whole family.”

Before their deaths, all three relatives ended up in different hospitals scattered across southwest Georgia. Early in the pandemic, the hospital nearest Taylor stopped accepting Covid-19 patients, and then, in the middle of the worst public health crisis this century, it shut for good, leaving residents scrambling for care. 

Dawson hospital
A reflection in the windows of the shuttered Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert, Ga. Early in the pandemic, the hospital nearest Taylor’s house stopped accepting Covid-19 patients, and then it closed for good.
Cuthbert
Plastic flower arrangements in the Albritten Funeral Home in Dawson, Ga. The funeral home took care of many families who lost loved ones to Covid-19.
Cuthbert
Signs direct people away from Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center.
Cuthbert
Taylor visits the cemetery where her mother, uncle, and aunt are buried. They all died of Covid-19 in 2020.
Cuthbert
Robert Albritten, owner of Albritten’s Funeral Service.
Cuthbert
Broken shutters hang in the window of the closed hospital.
Cuthbert
Taylor holds family photos. “I am an only child. My mom was a coddling type of mom,” Taylor said. “She was always asking me to come back home.”
Cuthbert
Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center has been closed since October 2020.
Source: STAT