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Billings Hospital Signals Patient Discharges With “Code Joy”



More than 3,000 people in Montana have been hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19. One hospital in Billings has started celebrating each recovered patient’s return home with a new code: Joy.

Just a week ago, machines were artificially doing the work of Ellen Edlund’s lungs and heart.

Edlund, a 20 year Billings Clinic registered nurse hospitalized with serious complications from COVID-19, credits her recovery to her colleagues’ expertise and an outpouring of community support and prayer.

On Monday, a wheelchair carried her out of the hospital through a tunnel of cheering health care workers as the opening notes of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” pumped through the hospital speakers, a new signal for each COVID-19 patient who leaves the Billings Clinic.

“It takes a village and because of all your guys’ love and care and support, I’m leaving today,” Edlund said.

Edlund says she’s an otherwise healthy person but after a nearly month long battle against the coronavirus, she’s “thrilled to be alive.”

“It tried to kill me. There’s really not a lot of explanation why I survived this. It’s a virus. I thought I had the flu. It hit me that hard,” Edlund said.

Edlund says many people less ill than she have died from the virus. She encouraged everyone to take simple steps: wash your hands and wear a mask.

“It’s not taking away your American rights. It’s keeping people safe. And we’re going to get through it but you need a little more time,” Edlund said.

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