Daughters mourn Plattsburgh mom who died of COVID-19

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 5:45 PM EDT
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Some families in our region are mourning the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19. One of those loved ones was Dawn Peryer, 61, of Plattsburgh. She passed away after a two-week battle against the coronavirus. Her daughters shared stories with our Kelly O'Brien about their mom, her battle and what they're feeling.

"She was always more worried about everybody else than herself," Sara Laundry said of her mom.

Dawn Peryer was one of eight children. She had two kids of her own and the only things she loved more than Mountain Dew and Raspberry Iced Tea, were her two granddaughters.

"She doted on those kids more than anything," Laundry said. "They were her life."

Peryer worked at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital for 19 years, wearing many different hats in her time there.

"She loved it," Laundry said. "She loved the patients, she loved the people."

Peryer lived at the Russell H. Barnard senior apartments. She was the fifth case of COVID-19 there and the building was quarantined the day she tested positive.

She had COPD and diabetes, so when she first started to feel under the weather, her doctor assumed it was bronchitis; she was known for having it regularly.

"We had no idea it was COVID until she was in the hospital," daughter Jessica Johnson said.

An ambulance brought Peryer her to CVPH on April 7 and she never left. Hospital staffers told her daughters Tuesday it was time to decide if she would stay on a ventilator. She had not seen any improvements in her 15 days in the ICU.

"She always said she doesn't want to live on tubes, she doesn't want to live on a machine, she doesn't want to live in a hospital forever," Laundry said.

"I don't wish having to make a decision like that on anyone," Johnson said.

The hospital allowed the daughters inside separately to say their final goodbyes Wednesday.

"I'm hoping she felt me holding her hand," Johnson said.

"Her eyes were fluttering a bit. In my head and my heart it was her telling me it was OK and, you know, that she loved me one last time," Laundry said.

They say they are sharing their story because Dawn Peryer was more than just another statistic, more than just a COVID patient: she was a mom, a sister, a "Grammie." The daughters also want you to know that this virus is real and it's here.

"People are dying from this," Johnson said. "Healthy people are dying from this, elderly people. It's not discriminating."

The sisters say they are grateful to everyone at CVPH. The nurses and staff were there for them and their mom every step of the way, treating them like family.

As for a funeral, that will wait until after social distancing so they can have a big celebration of Dawn Peryer's life.