COVID patient praises ‘faultless’ staff after long hospital stay

Caring staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead gave a huge send off to one of their patients yesterday – after she battled COVID-19 in the critical care ward for more than four months.

Emily Billingham, 74, from Leam Lane was brought to the critical care ward, which looks after the most poorly patients, on 5th November 2020 – under their expert care she was looked after and nursed back to health by dedicated staff for 127 days.

Yesterday, she was finally well enough to leave critical care and transfer to the hospital’s respiratory ward – and staff clapped and cheered her as she left to celebrate her progress.

Emily said: “The staff here are faultless – I couldn’t wish for nicer people. They’re really champion. They’ve offered encouragement to me every step of the way. Anything I’ve needed, they’ve been there. I’m going to miss them. I want to say thank you so much for looking after me, you’ve been wonderful.”

Sarah Hilditch, deputy sister in critical care, adds: “Emily is a miracle, she’s just amazing. I was here the day she was brought in. We’re all so proud of her.”

And nursing assistant Jean Prudhoe has also grown close to Emily over the weeks and months and was thrilled to see her able to leave the critical care ward. She said: “I’ve never stopped smiling, I just love her!”

Emily also urged people to take COVID seriously and to make sure they get vaccinated. She warned: “Covid is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced – I think the worst thing is the coughing and the breathing. I would say to people protect yourself – get the vaccine.”

Emily added that, although the recovery process is slow, she is looking to the future and counting the days till she can get home to her husband of 51 years, Dave – and seeing her nine grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and Jessie the dog.