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Fort Scott couple gets back to business with COVID-19 antibody treatment

In one moment, senior citizens Jo Ann and Hubert Thomas were busy running their Fort Scott, Kansas, cattle and construction businesses, while at the same time doing everything they could to avoid being infected by COVID-19.

“Then someone near you gets it and suddenly it’s there,” says Jo Ann, a retired registered nurse, who has lived in Fort Scott since she was 18.

But in December, Hubert began experiencing symptoms of the virus: Coughing, fever, shortness of breath and fatigue. She followed suit shortly after. 

They went to the Ascension Via Christi’s Emergency Department in Pittsburg, where it was confirmed that they were both positive for the COVID-19 infection.

Tim Stebbins, MD, regional medical director for Ascension Via Christi’s Emergency Departments in Pittsburg, Fort Scott and Manhattan and newly named Crawford County Health Department officer, and the couple’s youngest daughter, Natalie, an RN in the ER, helped provide their care.

“It took hardly any time at all, the longest part of it was the hour-long observation afterwards,” says Jo Ann, noting that she and her husband appreciated and followed Dr. Stebbins’s treatment plan, which included receiving an infusion of monoclonal novel coronavirus antibodies and making plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine after the recommended three-month waiting period. 

Jo Ann says she appreciates Ascension Via Christi’s care, especially after they stepped up to open an Emergency Department in Fort Scott after Mercy suddenly closed the hospital’s doors in 2018. 

“If it weren’t for the Fort Scott ER or Pittsburg hospital, we would have had to go to Kansas City for anything like this,” she says, noting that it’s over an hour drive. 

As a former nurse with two daughters who followed her into nursing, Jo Ann knows the standards of good care.

“The ER team in Pittsburg is fantastic and they really do take care of you,” says Jo Ann. “All of us in Fort Scott and the area are very fortunate to have the staff and facilities here at Ascension Via Christi.”

She and her husband have since recovered and resumed their former business and free time activities. 

“Surprisingly, I have really enjoyed online yoga.”

Antibody treatments are only available with a physician referral. Patients need to be at least 65 and testing positive for COVID-19 or near that age with health risks and complications.

About Taylor Valdez

Curly hair with straight priorities. Dedicated workaholic and weekend adventurer. When I'm not writing or working, I'm shopping, chowing down on local bites or binging Netflix.