On Thursday, May 20th,2 2021, the city of Manning and McLeod Health Clarendon sponsored a commemoration service honoring the 104 lives lost within Clarendon County due to COVID-19. This was also an event thanking those who served the community during the Coronavirus pandemic. The event took place at the Manning Fire Department Bay. The program began at 4 pm with Major Julia A. Nelson leading the service with greetings. Minster Celina Gleason from ARC United Pentecostal Church gave the inspirational scripture reading, Isaiah 65; 17-20. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold I create Jerusalem, a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days.”
Pasto Delaney “kay” Frierson, from Lovely Hill Baptist Church, Holly Hill, SC led the program into prayer. At 4:15 pm, First Baptist Church rang its bell ten times to represent the 104 lives lost to COVID-19. Libby Anderson performed a solo to Amazing Grace after the ringing of the bell. During the program, there were three testimonies from residents of the community who were personally affected by COVID-19. Carrie Trebil led the first testimony. On September 12th, 2020, Trebil lost her father to COVID-19. She expressed her emotions about the pandemic and sorrows that come with losing a loved one. The second testimony was led by Regina Wright: Wright explained her journey with having COVID-19. Regina contracted COVID-19 in March of 2020, she was admitted to the McLeod Health Clarendon Hospital. Wright’s family members were not allowed into the hospital due to restrictions during the pandemic. Regina was in the hospital for over 50 days with double pneumonia and also being on a ventilator. Wright was transported to Florence Regional McLeod; she had been asleep for 2 weeks and was still currently on the ventilator.
“When I opened my eyes, the atmosphere wasn’t familiar,” said Wright.
Wright was eventually taken off the ventilator while beginning a new, difficult journey.
“I had to begin a journey learning how to walk again,” said Wright. “Coronavirus came in and completely shut my body down.”
Regina explained that the majority of the days spent in the hospital, she was expecting to die. Wright eventually received her phone and could communicate with her mother and other family members, who motivated her to stay strong and push through her suffering.
“I started getting better and things started to go up,” said Regina “ I had awesome doctors, nurses and a community.”
While Regina had COVID-19, her father contracted the virus also. Regina could talk to her father on the phone. She began to cry. Her father proceeded to tell her, “I need you to focus on living.” She focused on getting better and returning home to her family. Regina lost her father to coronavirus 2 weeks before she could leave the Hospital.
Wright knew this was God, saying it was time for her to return home while her father returned home in heaven. The third testimony was from Dr. Catherine Rabon, a doctor at McLeod Health Clarendon. Dr. Rabon explained her experience as a health care worker during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic was extremely new to all health care workers. They would have daily conferences with other hospitals, countries and any other information they could seek. Dr. Rabon explains and describes how hard the pandemic has affected everyone drastically and how hard these times have been. Although these times have been extremely devastating and
difficult, there have been many accomplishments made, such as patients returning home to their loved ones. As of May 20, 2021, Dr. Rabon says there have not been any in-person patients with COVID-19 In the last week and a half. That is yet another huge accomplishment for Manning and McLeod Health Clarendon Hospital.
Proceeding after the testimonies Dr. Brenda Cantey Clark performed a solo to “I can only imagine.”
Pastor Sam Livingston from Antioch Missionary Baptist Church shared inspirational words of hope to the community. The last speaker was Rachel Turner Gainey, the McLeod Clarendon Health Administrator. Gainey explains that this past year has taught her strength. Gainey had to stay strong for her team so they could continue fighting through this pandemic. Gainey thanked the previous women who gave their testimonies, and for giving them the honor of caring for their loved ones. While she also gave her deep condolences for their fathers who passed away due to COVID-19. Gainey read a heartfelt letter they had received from a patient with COVID-19, expressing how much they were thankful for all that the hospital staff did while they were in the hospital with the virus. The patient also expresses the love and passion they felt while being in the hospital. Major Julia A. Nelson finished the ceremony thanking everyone for coming out to the commemoration service.