Published on August 24, 2021

Healthcare worker shares loss of mother to COVID-19 as plea to consider vaccine

Betty and Jonathan PratherJonathan Prather lost his mother, Betty, to complications from COVID-19 in October 2020, before a vaccine was available. Jonathan took the COVID-19 vaccine in her memory.

By Jonathan W. Prather, Patient Movement Manager, UNC Health Southeastern

My mom, Betty Hardin Prather, and I had a parent/child relationship unlike any other--we were the best of friends.  My mom was a great parent and provider for her family.  She lived an active life and had a servant’s heart.  Mom was known to many as the “Insurance Lady” as she sold life insurance for over 45 years.

Betty established Prather’s Family Care Home in Red Springs in 1990 and dedicated her life to caring for those who could not care for themselves.  She treated her patients as family and loved them as so.  Betty was a founding and very faithful member of Freedom Assembly of God in Red Springs, where she was active in church activities such as Women’s Ministries and the Senior Citizens Group, which she loved. Betty was also a Hospice of Robeson volunteer for many years until her health started to decline.

My mom had a love for jewelry, clothes, cooking and looking her best. More than anything, my mom was a follower of Christ, she loved the Lord, reading the Bible, listening to Gospel music, and, not to mention, she could pray like none other. She was truly a Proverbs 31 woman.

In September 2020, my mom was diagnosed with COVID-19.  What started out as minor common cold-like symptoms quickly turned into trip to the hospital by EMS due to shortness of breath.  She was hospitalized for 31 days with this horrible virus.  

For most of that time, I was not able to visit my mom and only talk very briefly on the phone or FaceTime, because of her difficulty breathing.  I finally got to visit my mom in ICU after she had been on the vent for two weeks and in critical condition fighting for her life.  Probably one of the hardest parts of her sickness is working at the same hospital where she was a patient and not being about to visit her!

On October 16, 2020, my world literally came crashing down when my Mom died from complications of COVID-19.  This rocked me to my very core and still, some days it feels like her death was just yesterday.   My mom wanted to live, she loved life and was very careful to take precautions against the virus.

I chose to take the COVID-19 vaccine in memory and honor of my closest friend, my mom.  I only can think, what if there was a vaccine prior to her sickness? I really think it would have helped prevent her from getting COVID-19 or at least lessened the symptoms and probably even saved her life.   If folks would have had to walk in my shoes for the last 10 months, they may understand more why I made the choice to get vaccinated. If anyone is on the fence about taking the COVID-19 vaccine, I urge them to step out and get the vaccine, if nothing else, to perhaps save their life or set an example for someone else’s life that might be saved.

Individuals interested in scheduling an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, which has shown to reduce the likelihood of serious illness and hospitalization, may schedule vaccination appointments by calling UNC Health Southeastern primary care clinics direct or scheduling through the call center at 1-844-735-8864. 

For a complete clinic listing with hours and phone numbers, logon to and click on “Services,” “Physician Services,” and “Primary Care Clinics.”