In it for the long haul part 3: COVID-19 unit nurse who contracted virus speaks on experience

Beavers-Simmons said she’d run up and down several flights of stairs, several times a night, working as the night charge nurse over the COVID-19 unit at Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee.
In it for the long haul part 3: COVID-19 unit nurse who contracted virus speaks on experience
Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 11:13 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - At the start of the pandemic in 2020, masks, gloves, gowns and shields were the only barriers between healthcare workers and COVID-19.

Thousands of people, in many cases, were literally putting their lives on the line and continue to do so more than a year later. This includes a Tallahassee nurse, who after months of working on her hospital’s COVID-19 unit, contracted the virus.

Now, eight months later, she’s still struggling to cast off COVID’s lingering effects.

“I would go up and down eight flights, two or three times a night,” Pamela Beavers-Simmons said.

In 2020, that was routine for Pamela Beavers-Simmons.

Beavers-Simmons said she’d run up and down several flights of stairs, several times a night, working as the night charge nurse over the COVID-19 unit at Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee.

“I was very vibrant and all over the place,” Pamela said.

Most days, Beavers-Simmons would cycle dozens of miles. The single mom of two college age sons was always on the go.

“I had heard that Pam was on our unit and I was like ‘oh my gosh, she’s visiting,’ and then I found out she was a patient and then my heart sank. I was like ‘oh my gosh, not Pam,” Maya Edwards, a CRMC nurse that works with Beavers-Simmons, said.

After months of caring for COVID-19 patients and taking all the precautions, Beavers-Simmons contracted the virus in December 2020. She said her symptoms were so severe, she ended up becoming a patient in the very unit, where just a week prior, she’d been caring for other people.

In all, Beavers-Simmons said she spent a week in CRMC’s COVID-19 unit.

“To me, it felt like it was sucking all the substance out of my body,” Beavers-Simmons said.

And for a time, Beavers-Simmons said she wasn’t sure she’d make it out alive. Once at home, her youngest son, Brandon, was by her side. The 21-year-old put college on hold for a semester to come back home and care for his mother.

“I need her right now. There are still too many questions. Still too many things. Nobody is going to give me a hug like my mom,” Brandon Beavers said.

Her son’s support helped push Beavers-Simmons forward even on days when walking just a few steps felt like a marathon.

“My body’s not the same. I mean that. COVID ravished my body. It took something from me that I don’t know if I’ll ever get back again,” Beavers-Simmons said.

And, for a while, the 52-year-old wondered if that meant giving up her nursing career, a passion she’s had since she was six years old. However, weeks later, Beavers-Simmons returned to CRMC.

“The staff here really looked out for me. I would do two-a-day’s. I would do two shifts and I’d be off for several days,” Beavers-Simmons said.

Now, months after her initial diagnosis and a COVID-19 vaccine, Beavers-Simmons said she only feels about 80 percent back to normal.

“My word to the general public is to take this very serious. Go get the vaccine, protect yourself at all costs because I’m thankful I survived it, but I’m not the same,” Beavers-Simmons said.

Now, Pamela turns her work breaks into mini physical therapy sessions, knowing she still has a long way to go.

“You saw me go up and down three flights of steps and on the way up, I’m winded. I still haven’t recovered completely from it, but I’m hopeful,” Pamela said.

Once she returned to CRMC, Pamela requested to not work on the COVID unit because it would be too mentally taxing for her.

Beavers-Simmons also said journaling has really helped get her emotions out as well as continuing to talk with her sons about how they’re feeling about her illness.

For mental health resources for those going through Long COVID or know someone who is, you can check out the following websites:

Copyright 2021 WCTV. All rights reserved.