Families at the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center’s preschool are working to help one of the school’s teachers who recently has been diagnosed with West Nile virus.
Trish Beattie, who has taught pre-K at the preschool since 1998, was admitted to the hospital on May 29, where she stayed for 22 days before being moved to a rehab facility where she receives occupational therapy, as well as physical and speech therapy, to recover from the effects of the virus.
West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection and although most people who become infected with West Nile virus don’t develop any symptoms, fewer than 1 percent who are infected will develop a serious neurological illness, with symptoms including headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis. Beattie’s symptoms included fever, body aches, a rash and pain when moving her head, according to Nikki Bernstein, a preschool parent who set up a GoFundMe page for Beattie.
In addition to her work as a pre-K teacher, Beattie runs Treatz by Trish, a pastry business; and is also a nanny, a baby-sitter, a professional chef who has worked with several professional Valley chefs; and a single mother of three boys, ages 19, 14 and 12, said Bernstein. She also teaches cooking classes and oversaw the preschool’s gardening program.
“This is a very hardworking woman,” said Bernstein, whose son was in Beattie’s class. “Trish brings a lot of wonderful and amazing things to the classroom.”
When Beattie was hospitalized, she received a great deal of support from the parents, friends and her ex-husband, Bernstein said, helping to care for Beattie’s sons, helping to pay her bills and sending good wishes. “We, as a community, need to come together because of the massive expense,” said Bernstein. As of press time, over $15,000 out of a $20,000 goal had been raised.
In a June 21 update on the GoFundMe page, Beattie said, “Rather than dwell on, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ West Nile virus happened to me to show me the love and support that I have built over my years working at the JCC: the beautiful families and staff members. What a beautiful blessing it is that I have all of you. Thanks to all of you for your support, kind words, prayers and donations through GoFundMe. It’s your support that I am using as my driving force to fight this and become stronger.”