Husband of woman who lost parents, brother to COVID-19 gets released from hospital

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GROVE CITY, Ohio (WCMH) — Kelly Conkey Billups says her husband Don fought hard against COVID-19 and survived. After four weeks in the hospital, much of that time on a ventilator, Don was released Tuesday morning. 

“What a great day,” said Kelly Conkey Billups. “One of God’s miracles just rolled out of Mount Carmel Grove City on his way to rehab.”

Friends and family and hospital staff cheered and held signs as Don was wheeled out of the hospital on a gurney and transported to a waiting ambulance.

Mary Ann Fish said she had been texting Kelly every day to let her know she’s been thinking about the couple.

“He’s had a lot of prayers going out and they’ve been answered and we’re so thankful,” Fish said.

For Kelly, it was a day of celebration amid several weeks of grief.

In late March, COVID-19 took the lives of both of her parents and her younger brother. They died one after another over three days. 

And by then, Don Billups’ life was in jeopardy as well. He was in bad shape and on a ventilator. Kelly, meanwhile, was forced to remain quarantined at home.

Kelly’s cousin Trisha Gruendel said the inability to have physical contact with loved ones has made this extremely difficult, especially for Kelly.

“I could not imagine how she feels inside to not be there for her brother, for her mom and dad, for Don,” Gruendel said. “It would eat me up inside.”

Kelly said her focus now is on helping Don get better and stronger.

“We will grieve together when the time is right,” Kelly says. “Numbness is my new friend because it’s difficult to feel the pain of my tremendous loss and to celebrate his recovery, which are both extremely important to me.”

Don’s release from the hospital was a big moment for nurses and doctors who cared for him. Hospital president Sean McKibben joined staff members for the celebration outside.

“To have such good news on a day like today really is energy that our team needs,” McKibben said. “They’ve been working so hard taking care of our patients and truly have put themselves on the front line of the battle.”

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