JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A woman who nearly died from COVID-19 last year has received an amazing Christmas surprise. Keniethea Tadlock is a COVID-19 long-hauler. We first started reporting nine months ago the struggle she faced in regaining her health and her staggering medical bills.

The financial issues centered around workman’s compensation. The state denied her claim, but to her surprise, a few days ago the hundreds of thousands of dollars she accumulated at Jefferson Memorial Hospital last year had been paid off. The adjustments are marked as “workman’s compensation” and were apparently paid by her former employer’s insurance carrier.

“My hospital bill that was once $600,000 now has a zero balance on it,” Tadlock said. “I thought somebody was playing a joke on me. I really did. When I called the hospital and they said, zero balance, I said, ‘OK!'”

Tadlock almost died last year when she came down with COVID-19 in September 2020. Before she got sick, Tadlock and her husband Steve Blankenship had no health issues. She worked for a regional propane supply company Blossman Gas. She says she contracted COVID from a fellow worker. Earlier this year, her claim for workers’ compensation was denied. The state wrote there was “no evidence” her exposure came from the office.

All year she worried about how will she ever be able to pay her medical bills. So she appealed the state’s initial denial for compensation, a hearing finally was scheduled in late October but was postponed. Finally, a few days ago, the surprise arrived, her bills were paid.

“Oh, this makes me feel wonderful,” Tadlock said. “You give praise to God for all that. God did all that. He touched that. I begged and pleaded with Him to help me do something. I dropped down, got as far down as I could on my knees, cried, asked God for help, And, boom. Within weeks it was at a zero balance.”

We reached out to the Workers’ Compensation Bureau in Nashville and were told the state does not pay workers’ compensation medical benefits, instead, those payments are made by the employer’s insurance carrier.

On the other matter of Tadlock’s battle for her back salary, no date has been set yet for that workers’ compensation hearing. However, for now, she can breathe a little easier knowing that her big hospital debt has been paid.