Perkins released from hospital after CDC orders second tests

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 20, 2003

Wearing a hospital gown and rainbow-colored socks Wednesdayafternoon, Patti Perkins showed little signs of an illness that hasbrought her state and national attention.

Perkins was hospitalized Monday with pneumonia after she becameill during a recent two-week trip to China. However, because of thetiming of the trip and a worldwide alert due to a flu-like illnessthat has claimed 14 lives, Perkins’ case attracted heightenedprecautions. It also caught the attention of the King’s DaughtersMedical Center staff, the state health department and the Centersfor Disease Control.

“Because I was in all the provinces in China, they’re monitoringit more closely,” Perkins said, adding that her symptoms met CDCprotocols.

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Initial tests showed Perkins’ illness was bacterial and notviral, as in the cases associated with the Severe Acute RespiratorySyndrome (SARS). Nevertheless, Perkins said CDC officials wantedmore tests run to confirm the diagnosis.

“It’s truly just precautionary,” Perkins said.

Perkins had expected to go home Wednesday but that was delayed.She was in the process of being released Thursday morning.

“They’re just holding on to me a little longer because Dr. (Ray)Montalvo heard some crackling in my lungs,” Perkins said Wednesdayafternoon.

Perkins said the crackling sound indicated some pneumoniaremained.

Perkins said she first became ill on March 8 in Jin Hua, China.She described it as a residual cough and shortness of breath.

After returning to the United States Sunday, Perkins washospitalized in the Isolation Intensive Care Unit at King’sDaughters Monday. She was moved to a regular room Tuesdayafternoon.

Philip Grady, KDMC chief executive officer, said the hospitalreceived a SARS bulletin from the state around 2:30 p.m. Monday.The information was distributed to hospital staff and an employeereported Perkins’ conditions around 6 p.m.

“That basically put everything in motion to set up state and CDCprotocols to protect not only the patient, but staff and visitorsas well,” Grady said.

Grady said the hospital’s infection control procedures, underthe direction of Cathy Bridge, were put in place and the infectioncontrol committee was also notified. He said a medical staffmeeting was held Tuesday regarding Perkins’ case.

“The state department of health was a tremendous resource andhelp to us in this situation,” Grady said.

Perkins said KDMC personnel responded very well to hersituation.

“Everybody here has been so nice and so professional…,”Perkins said. “They knew procedures, and they knew protocol.”

Perkins said she expected it would take about a month to regainher energy after her bout with pneumonia.

“I’m not in any pain. I feel great,” she said.

Despite her illness, Perkins said she would like to go back toChina. She said her situation would have been worse if not forMontalvo making sure she had the necessary vaccinations.

“Dr. Ray had me really prepared,” Perkins said, adding that theillness that affected her was a different strain.

Perkins said she was blessed to live in Brookhaven andappreciated all the calls from friends. With her husband Jimmy ather side, she watched television and read newspapers, whichincluded stories on her condition.

Jimmy Perkins speculated that war with Iraq may preempt furthercoverage of his wife’s illness. Patti didn’t seem to mind thatpossibility.

“I’m ready for this 15 minutes of fame to go away,” PattiPerkins said.