JOHNSON CITY — After 44 days in the hospital, and more than a month on a ventilator, 17-year-old Connor Begley was discharged from Niswonger Children’s Hospital on Monday — an emotional sight for many of the health care workers who lined the hallways to cheer him on as he was wheeled into an ambulance and taken to an alternate care facility.

Niswonger Children’s Hospital CEO Lisa Carter, who recently recovered from a coronavirus infection herself, was emotional as Begley left the building, and said it “was much, much-needed for the team.”

“Unfortunately this is not the norm right now, seeing patients leave the building, and so it was much-needed for all the team members today and, oh my, for this dear, dear sweet family who’ve been here for so, so long,” Carter said.

Carter said it was very emotional upstairs as Begley was wheeled out and said even the adult intensive care staff, who helped with his care, stopped by to send him off. Photos posted by Niswonger Children’s Hospital on Twitter show staff lining the hallway and cheering as confetti is tossed in the air to celebrate Begley’s release.

“We’re not getting a lot of wins these days, but this one is a very big win and the team needed it,” Carter said.

As of Monday, Niswonger Children’s Hospital was caring for seven children hospitalized with the coronavirus, a slight decrease from Friday’s total of eight. In all, Ballad Health was treating 388 people for COVID-19, 112 of which were in intensive care. There were 84 people on ventilators.


A 17-year-old from Southwest Virginia, Connor Begley, left Niswonger Children's Hospital on Monday. He spent more than a month on a ventilator after being hospitalized with COVID-19 in late July.

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