After Surviving COVID-19, She ‘Never Wants to Work for Anybody But Benefis’

Tears still come to the eyes of Corrina Buxengard as she remembers the fear she felt when she was diagnosed with COVID-19. Had she infected her asthmatic husband or co-workers? Would she survive? Would she be hospitalized or suffer a long-term disability?

Corrina now brings her perspective as a COVID-19 survivor to her work at Benefis Health System as a medical scheduler in internal medicine and to the COVID-19 infusion clinic.

The infusion clinic treats patients who are particularly susceptible to developing serious cases of COVID-19. At the infusion clinic, patients spend around two hours receiving intravenous medication made with COVID-19 antibodies. The treatment helps patients within the first 10 days of their infection feel better more quickly – and helps keep them from being hospitalized.

Benefis has delivered 325 doses over the past 15 weeks and has seen a dramatic reduction in COVID-19 hospital admissions, from a high of 65 patients to an average of two to six patients a day now. Benefis has taken the infusions on the road, as well, helping community partners in Fort Benton and Choteau.

Corrina volunteered to work at the clinic to protect her co-workers from possible exposure, but she’s found her own experience helps those Benefis treats.

I love what Benefis stands for.”

–Corrina Buxengard

“It’s been a win-win for me,” she said. “When people came in, they were scared. They were so sick. We could talk before their infusion about how we dealt with it.”

She told them, “You can survive this. I survived. I’m here.”

Corrina doesn’t know how she became infected. In October, as the number of COVID-19 cases spiked and Benefis began operating above capacity, Corrina felt “off.” Then her temperature rose. She became sicker and sicker over the course of the day.

“I was so taken aback,” she said. “I was so afraid.”

Corrina gained a new appreciation for her colleagues, who frequently checked on her.

“Never once did they make me feel alone,” she said. “They watched out for me. They texted me and called me.”

Corrina didn’t seem to be recovering. She had shortness of breath. She was always exhausted. She came in for a chest X-ray. As she drove home to Fairfield afterward, she was told to turn around and head for the Emergency Department as symptoms pointed to a blood clot, which has affected many people with COVID-19.

“I was so tired, I just started crying. I asked if I could come in tomorrow,” she said. “They said no.”

In the Benefis Emergency Department, the doctor pointed out the stripping and fluid buildup in her lungs. Corrina was diagnosed with COVID pneumonia and began a course of antibiotics.

“They were so kind to me in the ED,” she said. “The doctor patiently walked me through everything.”

Never once did they make me feel alone. They watched out for me.”

–Corrina Buxengard

Corrina, who has worked at Benefis for 15 years, was out of work for six weeks and is still working to regain stamina. She’s cried with other co-workers who also survived.

“We work as a team, and it’s a great team,” she said. “Everybody who works here and loves healthcare truly gives it their all. They take good care of you. I can’t say enough about where I work. People get the best care here. I love what Benefis stands for, and I wouldn’t want to work for anybody but Benefis."