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Cloquet man 'near death' beats odds to recover from COVID-19

"I do not wish for anybody to go through what I went through, because it was not fun," Steven Jarve, 69, said.

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Steven Jarve receives a celebratory exist from staff at Community Memorial Hospital after recovering from COVID-19 on Dec. 22, 2021. Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

Everything happened suddenly for Steven Jarve, who turns 70 next month, when he was admitted to Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet with COVID-19 on Nov. 12.

“For the first three days I thought they were my last three days on this planet,” he said. “I was in bad shape.”

The staff taking care of Jarve said he was “near death” and had discussed hospice care with him. Despite this, Jarve’s health began to improve and his rehabilitation started making strides to where he was released from CMH on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

Jarve’s condition was compounded by his age and an underlying condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disease.

“This is the only thing that has taken 95% of my life away from me and I still recovered from it,” he said.


Dr. Kara Underwood said he was put on a BiPAP machine, which is a step before a ventilator, and he was gradually weaned to his normal level of oxygen.

“It was a slow process, and it was sort of a roller-coaster ride for him,” she said. “What is really special about it is it really took a team effort to get him better.”

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Steven Jarve waiting to leave Community Memorial Hospital on Dec. 22, 2021, after recovering from COVID-19. Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

Jarve did not want to go onto a ventilator as he believed he might not make it, but the BiPAP machine was still tough on him.

“They put me on a different machine, which in all honesty was hell,” he said.

Underwood said just seeing him come out on the other side has been a feel good story after the last couple years the staff have been through.

“He beat COVID with that chronic illness … how sick he was is unheard of,” she said.

Once his physical health started to improve the next obstacle for Jarve was improving his mental health and adopting a more positive mental attitude.

“I always try to provide my own positive mental attitude, but the staff here reinforced it so much,” he said. “I didn’t think I could do it in the beginning, I really did not.”


Jarve has improved to the point where he is able to walk and do more things on his own.

Amber Rohde, a physical therapist at the hospital, said Jarve had been exceeding the expectations of the staff.

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Steven Jarve is embraced by Arianna Culbert, an occupational therapist at Community Memorial Hospital, before he left the hospital Dec. 22, 2021. Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

“He went from being very taxed and hard to just sit edge of bed (needing) several liters of oxygen down to near his normal and able to walk down the hallway,” she said.

The physical therapy was not easy and Rohde described it as a “necessary evil” when getting better.

“It is a testament to his spirit and his determination to get better, and seeing him evolve from this very sick man who again was that near-death state … to just the smile on his face, working hard to get those goals,” she said.

The staff wanted to celebrate Jarve’s recovery, especially as he was able to leave the hospital before the start of the holidays, and gave him a surprise celebratory exit.

Jarve will still need to spend some time in a rehabilitation facility, but Rohde is happy they are able to let him leave the hospital setting.

The celebration was a big surprise to Jarve, as he expected just a small send off.


“It blew my mind, in all honesty. What I was expecting is two or three of the staff that could sneak away for a minute were going to greet me at my door and wish me luck,” he said.

The team and small-town atmosphere helped Jarve on his road to recovery as well. While he received his celebratory exit, he thanked all the staff and shouted “I love you all” as he made his way to the exit.

When asked how supported the staff have been, Jarve said on a scale of 1-10 he would rank them at a 12.5.

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Steven Jarve's beard had been decorated with Christmas ornaments by some of the staff at Community Memorial Hospital on Dec. 22, 2021. Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

Jarve was surprised he contracted the virus at all, as he said he hadn’t left his house much in the past year and a half. He was unvaccinated and called himself “somewhat of an anti-vaxxer” due to the politics of the vaccine.

“Knowing what I know now, I have been a fool for a year and a half,” he said. “If you have an opportunity to get vaccinated, by all means, do it. I do not wish for anybody to go through what I went through, because it was not fun."

Jarve now hopes to get to his bed at home as soon as possible and take care of his 85 fish at home.


“What I am really looking forward to is my own bed,” he said. “These beds are awesome — I love these beds — they’re just not my bed.”

Jarve said he is extremely thankful to the staff at CMH and believes his future is just as bright as it can be.

“I’ll use the word 'miracle,' because this adventure has been in my mind the biggest miracle I have ever experienced," he said.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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