Monday, October 19, 2009

Essie Simms is in the Hospital

Posted by Bruce Miller
Essie Simms, a dear friend to many of us, is in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital. She is recovering from what may have been a fall related to her diabetes. It does not appear that she has had a stroke. She has been “stabilized,” but remains in serious condition.

That’s all that I can tell you about her condition and prognosis. That’s all anyone would tell us.

Essie has to be Richmond’s most steadfast theatre supporter. She goes to see EVERYTHING. And I do mean EVERYTHING. And if she likes the show, she goes twice, or many times more than twice. And she always buys a ticket.

Essie has seen every Barksdale production since our very first show--Gold in the Hills in 1954.

I learned from a contact at Westminster-Canterbury early yesterday evening that Essie had been taken via ambulance to St. Mary’s Hospital. She was found unconscious on the floor of her room after neighbors reported that she hadn't picked up her Saturday or Sunday papers.

Phil and I visited Essie this morning in the ICU, only to find her unresponsive and semi-conscious. The good news is this: when I returned to visit Essie this afternoon, she was speaking a few words, although she still couldn’t open her eyes. She called me by name.

Julie Fulcher, who has been like a daughter to Essie for years, has been with her most of the day today. Audra Honaker also stopped by this afternoon for a visit. When I asked Essie if she’d like me to come back and visit again tomorrow, she said “Yes, please.”

The ICU discourages visitors, so I’m not meaning to encourage them. Visitation is limited to family only. But the truth is, we are Essie’s family—her only family. And we certainly don’t want her to be alone during this recovery.

If you are very close to Essie, and I know many of you are, please comment to this post and we’ll put you on a list of folks who are willing to visit Essie to make sure she has an appropriate amount of company during her recovery. Julie mentioned that she’d like to put together such a list, and I offered to help.

In the meantime, please keep Essie in your thoughts and prayers. She's a tough cookie, and I don't think she's through with us yet. Thanks.

--Bruce Miller


Dave Fuller said...

Hey Bruce-
This is Dave Bridgewater. I happened to check the website today because I'm coming with a group from my Multicultural Counseling classe at MCV to Boleros on the 25th. I was stunned to read about Essie and would love to be on the list. I saw her often at WCR, and of course like everyone, with her smiling face in the audience of every show I can think of.
My best thoughts and many prayers are with her. She's a blessing to all she meets. What a great woman and dear friend of the theatre.
-Dave Fuller

Jacquie O. said...

Bruce, thank you so much for posting this. I would like to help in whatever way I can and visit Essie if Julie thinks that would be OK. She is so special and you are right - we are all family!


Donna said...

Bruce, please do put me on the list. I so adore Essie, and your words about her could not be more true. What a lovely heart she has!
Donna Coghill

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the update!

-Alia Bisharat

Anonymous said...

Bruce, thank you for letting us know what is going on. I had heard that some of the folks at WCR had not seen Essie in a while and they thought she was busy. I am so sorry to hear that she is having health issues. Please pass along my get well wishes and let her know that I am thinking about her and if she needs a visitor, let me know. I will come by and see her.
Thanks again Bruce fore the update,
Andrew Bonniwell

pnlkotula said...

Bruce, please add me to the list. Jamie (and all of us) adore Essie. Thank you for letting us know.

Julie Fulcher said...

Bruce and Entire Theatre Family,

I am happy to report that Essie is in much better spirits. I arrived today to see her sitting up in a chair after eating her delicious hospital breakfast fare, well as much as could be tolerated, getting an amazing blow by blow recount of the RTCC awards thanks to the incredibly loving and joy-filled Jackie Jones. Jackie delighted Essie with her healing presence.

Thank you all for your love, good wishes and prayers. They are indeed working. Essie was transferred out of ICU and moved to room 409. With all this loving energy we'll have her back At Westminster Canterbury, in Health Care there at home as she continues to recover. WC misses seeing their Mayor. Essie will need continued love and support in the weeks to come.

I will keep you all posted with what needs may arise, that your generous offers may fulfill.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Julie Fulcher

Donna said...

Thank you so much for the update. Such wonderful news!!! Go Essie!!!

Joescoe said...

Behind a bit in my blog-following, I first heard the news about Essie night before last from brother Ray, Chaplain at Westminster Canterbury and one of Essie's most devoted fans. I'd missed her charming, wry smile after any performance of "Shining City," but had logged it up to Richmond's unusually full theater schedule—a lot for even Essie to keep up with. So sad, then, to hear the real reason for her decidedly uncharacteristic absence. But so wonderful, Julie, to hear your enthusiasm and optimism regarding her recovery! Please add me to any list of folks determined to make that recovery full and fast. Though if not dissuaded by further word here, I'll plan to visit her this afternoon.

j said...

Essie Simms was transferred back to Westminster Canterbury Wednesday (10/21/09). She continues to progress and is in good hands there.

Several folks have inquired about visiting. Although Essie would love visitors, we must hold off for now. Julie Fulcher will let us know when the coast is clear and also keep us abreast of Essie's progress.

In the meantime, cards would boost Essie's spirits. Her address is:

Essie Simms
c/o Westminster-Canterbury
Health Care Services - Room 9252
1600 Westbrook Avenue
Richmond, VA 23237