After near-death COVID-19 battle, Billings Clinic nurse returns home | Local News

Laveta Brigham

Billings Clinic nurse Ellen Edlund, left, and friend Kelly Duffy wave to neighbors on Edlund’s arrival home on Friday. Edlund survived a near-fatal case of COVID-19 that landed her in the ICU and on a ventilator. She said her goal was […]

No one knows better than Ellen Edlund herself how close she came to dying. She’s been a nurse for 22 years and used to work in an Intensive Care Unit.

She knew what it meant when her battle with COVID-19 landed her in the ICU at Billings Clinic in late November. She knew when her doctor told her she needed a ventilator that 80% of ventilated COVID-19 patients die. She knew when she got even worse, needing a highly-specialized device to oxygenate her blood, that her chances were even slimmer.

And, she knew that thousands of COVID-19 patients, including frontline health care workers like her, were already dead.

Two weeks ago, even her most optimistic caretakers didn’t think she’d make it through the night.

And then, on Friday, she was home.

“I’m not going to lie, I was terrified,” Edlund said Friday. “Just before I was intubated, I asked my doctor, ‘Am I going to die? And, when she couldn’t say no, I knew I was in trouble.”

Ellen Edlund

Billings Clinic nurse Ellen Edlund is cared for by Katie Kukowski in the Intensive Care Unit at Billings Clinic in December.

And, that conversation is the last thing she remembers before waking up in the ICU last Wednesday.

She wasn’t aware that friends and co-workers in the ICU had shared her story on national television and on the front page of The Gazette. She didn’t know her friends had set up a “Love Ellen” Facebook group that now has 850 members.

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