July 7, 2020

Happy Berthaday! Beloved nursing home patient celebrates being coronavirus-free

Bertha Brock and nursing home staff enjoy a drive-by parade to celebrate being virus-free at Pruitthealth Franklin Monday (Photo: Debbie O’Neal/Times Journal)

(Franklin, GA) — One of Heard County’s most special citizens enjoyed a drive-by celebration Monday at the PruittHealth Nursing home on South River Road in Franklin.

Bertha Brock was the honoree of the event after she tested negative for COVID-19 after being positive for several weeks. She was the last patient with the virus thus allowing the facility to downgrade from Code Red status to Code Amber status recently.

Participants in the parade included her Franklin First Baptist Church family, the Heard County Sheriff’s Office, and the Franklin Police Department. (See video below)

Bertha’s life story is one filled with faith, perseverance, and community love.

The wheelchair bound 76-year-old with severe cerebral palsy has remarkably been a patient at the Franklin Nursing home for 42 years.

Soon after arriving at the nursing home in 1978, members of the downtown church started picking up and transporting several residents to their Sunday services and Bertha has remained an integral part of the First Baptist family to this day.

Despite being unable to speak and without any use of her limbs, Bertha has been a tremendously active member of the church and rarely has missed any services. She was Baptized by Preacher Bob Norton in the 1980’s and has remained an active member for about 40 years.

Current minister of the church, Pastor Andrew Owensby, has attended church with Bertha since he was a child and he definitely elicited the biggest response from Bertha during her special parade.

“I have shared so many memories with Bertha since I was young,” says Owensby. “One thing that really stands out is when I was just a little boy I remember Bertha would always have a single dollar bill for the offering. We never really knew where she got that dollar — but she always had it.”

Owensby says countless church members have helped transport Bertha to and from church over the years which has resulted in lots of laughs and funny stories. He says that Bertha and the members alike have gotten some big laughs — especially the few times when she has been accidentally dropped or slid out of her chair.

In the early years, she was transported in the personal vehicles of church members before the ministry later purchased an accessible transport van for the short trips between South River Road and downtown Franklin.

“It’s just very special to see how our members have grown and taken care of Bertha throughout these many years. They have fed her and wiped her mouth and made sure she has always had a way to not just our services but other social functions and gatherings,” Owensby says.

Bertha Brock (Photo: Franklin First Baptist Church)

PruittHealth Franklin administrator Shawn Estes says that it was a big relief and very rewarding to see Bertha finally test negative for COVID-19.

“It is just a wonderful day,” said Estes after Monday’s parade.

“Throughout this crisis we have worked extremely hard on trying protect our residents and do the right things and follow the guidelines and today was the payoff. She has been with us such a long time. We are so honored to have Bertha as part of our family.”

Estes is also extremely happy to report that no residents at the facility are currently known to be positive and he adds the nursing home is very appreciative of the community support received since the COVID-19 outbreak began earlier this year.

“Just the support that community has been able to share with us — from making cloth masks for us early on — to doing things like this parade for Ms. Bertha today. It’s what Franklin is all about and we are so thankful to be here.”

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