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Highland staff and family celebrate COVID-19 patient leaving hospital

For the first time Highland Community Hospital staff discharged a COVID-19 patient who had been on a ventilator, but has since recovered. Medical staff lined up alongside the patient’s family at the hospital’s exit on Thursday to celebrate her journey home.

Many patients who have to be put on ventilators do not get better, said Director of Acute Care Kevin Hedgepeth. Nationally it takes patients an average of 14 days to get off of a ventilator, he said, if they are able to get off at all.

“There were multiple times that we did think we would lose Polly,” said critical care physician Dr. Fatima Sadiq.

Hattie “Polly” Parker was admitted directly to the ICU on April 4, and intubated on April 6. She spent eight days on a ventilator before she was extubated on April 14, and finally able to return home on Thursday, said Sadiq.

Parker thanked God at the sight of her family holding signs proclaiming their love for her. She offered the crowd of family and medical staff an air hug.

“Thank God,” said Parker. “He blessed me with a family that was there with me the whole time.”

Parker’s husband and Pastor of the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church Donald L. Parker passed away from COVID-19 in early April, said the couple’s daughter Sylvia P. Wilson.

“Keep God first and love, and everything else will come together,” said Wilson. “It took my dad but my mom made it through.”

Wilson was able to see her mom one night after Parker spent 25 days in the hospital, but for most of April contact with family was limited to video calls.

“I’m okay because my God brought me home,” said Parker.

As Parker was driven away from the hospital, a fire truck and police cars escorted her home.

As of April 30, Highland Community Hospital had 11 inpatients with COVID-19, one of which was in the ICU, according to the Forrest Health website.

Picayune’s proximity to New Orleans has made it more vulnerable to COVID-19 than other parts of Mississippi, said Sadiq. Additionally, the city’s population is older and many residents have conditions that can put them at higher risk such as respiratory problems or diabetes.