Family says Knox Co. school nurse died of flu

Family says Knox Co. school nurse died of flu

Posted: Updated:
Sondra Cash's picture on Facebook Sondra Cash's picture on Facebook

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A Knox County school nurse has died and her family says they believe it's due to complications of H1N1 flu. However, the state Department of Health has not confirmed the cause yet.

Sondra Cash, 59, died on Thursday.

If her death is confirmed later as flu-related, it would be the first such reported death in Knox County.

Cash was hired by Knox County Schools in September 2007. This was her first year at Bearden Middle School. Before that, she worked at South-Doyle Middle School.

"When God created her, there was an angel on earth that everybody had," says Tammy West, who met Sondra Cash two years ago when they were both nurses working at South-Doyle Middle School.

"We clicked. She was the mom I wanted to have and the best friend that I'd never had," West says. 

Cash moved to Bearden Middle this school year, where she continued her commitment to students.

"She didn't make much money, but she would give her last dollar for someone to get to eat. She supplied the food for our diabetics. She was just incredible. She loved them. They were her kids," West says.

West says Cash was a diabetic herself and had some other health problems. She started having flu-like symptoms a few weeks ago and had gone to the doctor twice.

"She was told that she had the swine flu, is what she told me," West says. 

West remembers the last time she spoke to her friend on the phone.

"She sounded bad. I thought she maybe had pneumonia, because it sounded like it was all in her chest," West says. "The next day she was gone. It about killed me. She was the best thing, other than my family. I love her."

West doesn't know where Cash got the flu, but has this message for parents and the public.

"If their kids are sick, coughing, running a fever, they need to really leave their kids at home until they are better, and a thing that people need to do a lot is wash hands. That doesn't get done and I think that would help prevent the flu," West says. 

Visitation will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, with the funeral to follow, at Berry Funeral Home at 3704 Chapman Highway.

Bearden Middle School sent home a letter to students about Cash's death.

Principal Sonja Winstead wrote, "I know there are rumors in the community concerning the cause of her passing. While personal medical information is protected under law and not something that can be released, at this time we are not aware of anything that would cause us undue concern for the health and safety of your children or our employees."

The school will remain open.

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