Surprise Squad honors Baystate nurse who lived in camper during pandemic

Sacrifice is something so many have had to do throughout this pandemic.
Updated: Mar. 24, 2021 at 2:45 PM EDT
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WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Sacrifice is something so many have had to do throughout this pandemic.

For one Baystate ICU nurse, it meant separating herself from her family to keep them and her patients safe.

When the Western Mass News Surprise Squad and the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers found out, we had to pay her a visit.

“I lived in my camper when it first happened because it was just, you couldn’t figure it out. How do I not bring this home?” said Autumn Neylon.

Meet Autumn Neylon, an ICU nurse at Baystate Medical Center. A camper was her “home” for several weeks at the height of the pandemic.

“There were no other options,” Neylon added.

Early on, the Baystate nurse bought a camper and parked it alongside her Westfield house to distance herself from those she loved.

“We would visit outside, but maintaining an ample space between the two,” Neylon noted.

It was all done to protect her family from what she was facing every day at work.

“It’s just awful what we have to see at work and what we have to do at work…Holding people’s hands when they are alone, when their families can’t be with them. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t share with my family because it’s just so awful,” Neylon explained.

She was facing this pandemic head-on and making the ultimate sacrifice for her loved ones.

“I get emotional about it because it’s just so hard. It was just so hard trying to live life safely,” Neylon said.

She has since been vaccinated and is back in her home.

“Knowing that a vaccine was coming, it was just a relief,” Neylon noted.

However, the emotions are still there as the pandemic is still very evident in the hospital and community.

“I just want to go to work and be normal…We see awful every day. This is just a different level of awful,” Neylon added.

Even through the tears, Neylon has a positive outlook on the situation and told Western Mass News all about her love for camping as she looks forward to summer trips with her family.

“Everybody is just able to have fun and life is a little more relaxing when you are camping,” Neylon said.

Neylon thought we were just there to talk about her experience throughout the pandemic and the vaccines, but the Surprise Squad and Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers had other plans.

“Nurses, I don’t think get enough credit for what they are dealing with every single day,” said Brian Houser with Balise Hyundai.

Gary Rome from Gary Rome Hyundai added, “I’m so thrilled with what they are doing and just the commitment and especially the sacrifice that Autumn made for her and her family, just to keep them safe.”

The Surprise Squad surprised Neylon with all sorts of goodies for the hard work she does. She is all set for her next camping trip with a fire pit, chairs, smores, supplies, and whole lot more.

“On behalf of the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers, congratulations and thank you for all that you do. We really, really appreciate all you do to keep us safe every day,” Rome added.

Neylon said, “I’m going to use that money towards a nice party for all the people I work with and we are just going to have a relaxing time.”

Neylon’s family and friends were there to celebrate the surprise with us and shed light on the person she is.

“From everything that she’s been doing and helping, I was really proud of her and that’s why I nominated her…She’s been through a lot and she’s done a lot for a lot of people and she loved by everyone,” said Michelle, who nominated Neylon.

Neylon noted, “This is so thoughtful and so appreciated and like I said, I don’t do anything different than every single person that works with me.”

She’s a humble hero who, no doubt, has made a difference in the fight against the pandemic.

The Western Mass News Surprise Squad, sponsored by the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers, is back paying it forward and giving back to those who go out of their way helping others. Nominate someone special by emailing and let us honor them.