Former Labette County USD 506 superintendent and locally known hobby magician Dennis Wilson has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is in critical condition in the AdventHealth ICU.

His wife, Joanna, unable to be by his side, paced the floor at their home in Lenexa Monday as she was informed she would be subject to 14 days of quarantine.

Friends of the family are praying that Wilson can perform some of his magic and pull good health out of his hat with a little help from a higher power. A return to good health could mean his return to perform at Katy Days, as he has done for many years. Right now, those are hopes of friends who can only reach out to support the Wilson’s via social media and phone.

“Never in a million years would I ever have thought we would be in such a situation. Never,” Joanna told her Facebook friends Monday evening. “Dennis hasn’t been feeling well for about a week with flu symptoms. Fever, chills, body aches, no appetite, up and down.”

She told friends that on Thursday that her husband went to an urgent care facility. No testing was done. He was told to go home, rest and drink plenty of fluids.

“On Friday evening we went to urgent care again, this time a KUMC (Kansas University Medical Center) urgent care. Same thing “go home ... However, this time he was tested for influenza A and B, both of which were negative,” Joanna Wilson said. “Home we go and he did his best to rest and drink plenty of fluids. (Sunday) he began to feel better. Actually ate pretty well and more energy. But around 9 p.m. (he) complained about being short of breath. It got worse as the evening went on and we went to the AdventHealth hospital on Prairie Star in Lenexa at about midnight. His O2 level was very low and his chest X-ray showed severe bilateral pneumonia.”

The doctor suspected he had COVID-19. Although Wilson didn’t meet the criteria for testing, the doctor was doing what he could to push testing through.

With Wilson’s condition worsening, the doctor wanted to admit him to ICU. At 4 a.m. Monday, they transferred Wilson, by then in critical condition, by ambulance to the main campus ICU of AdventHealth. 

“I found out when I got there after him that I was banned from the hospital and forced to pace the floor at home quarantined for the next two weeks,” Joanna Wilson said. “I didn’t even get to see him before they took him up to the floor.”

The doctor finally got permission to do the coronavirus test and then waited for the results.

“I tried to FaceTime with him a few times this morning and then he said he was going to rest a bit. Then he FaceTimed me again after that and told me they were going to intubate him and put him on a ventilator,” she said. “Without giving me time to find out what all was going on, he was gone and they did what they had to do.”

Late Monday night, the test results showed positive for COVID-19.

“It’s killing me to not be able to be there to hold his hand, to advocate for him, to ask questions of the doctors and to just plain take care of him, Joanna style,” Joanna Wilson wrote on her page. “Please keep him in your prayers.”

Tuesday morning, her spirits lifted.

“I got a call from the patient advocate this morning and she said, ‘How would you like to come see your husband?’ She met me in the parking lot with a mask and led me to him,” Joanna Wilson reported on her Facebook page. “They backed up his sedation enough so he can open his eyes, nod his head and he is responding to my voice. I hope this helps him heal. And I’ve been reading him all your wonderful messages and comments. My heart is so full. Thank you all so much.”

Joanna Wilson has not responded to a Sun request for further information.

Joanna Wilson served as administrator at Parsons Good Samaritan Center for 28 years, retiring in 2015, so both are well known in Parsons and surrounding towns, giving many in this area their first chance to connect a face to the impacts of this virus.

Friends of the family are reaching out in support on Facebook, with hundreds offering prayers and sending long-distance hugs.

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