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COVID-19 patient in Picayune has big celebration after her release from hospital

Polly Parker of Picayune is the first COVID-19 patient to be discharged from Highland Community...
Polly Parker of Picayune is the first COVID-19 patient to be discharged from Highland Community Hospital who had to be on a ventilator.(wlox)
Updated: Apr. 30, 2020 at 5:58 PM CDT
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PICAYUNE, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s been a long three and a half weeks for Polly Parker, but she came out alive - and with lots of new friends.

On Thursday, the Picayune resident was the first COVID-19 patient to be discharged from Highland Community Hospital who had to be on a ventilator.

She was treated to cheers and air hugs by hospital staff as she was wheeled toward her car.

“And I thank God for all of you,” she said to the health care workers. “I’ll never, ever forget y’all."

That includes people like Highland Community Hospital critical care physician Dr. Fatima Sadiq who said the battle to save her was close.

“Very, very close. Too close,” she said. “There were multiple times that we did think that we would lose Polly, but she made it through.”

And she made it through with style.

“Polly was singing at the top of her lungs 24 hours into being extubated,” Sadiq said, “which was nothing short of a miracle.”

Her singing partner was Kevin Hedgepeth, the hospital’s director of acute care.

“Initially when she got off the ventilator, she was singing Gospel songs, and I was harmonizing with her,” he said. “So, we had a good little time.”

He and hospital administrator Bryan Maxie said Parker’s recovery as well as other COVID-19 patients before her speaks volumes about the staff of the 49-bed hospital.

“That’s quite an accomplishment for a facility our size,” he said. “So, we’re excited for the fact that she’s getting to go home.”

At home, Parker was given another celebration, put on by members of her church, Greater Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.

“This community, her church family, her family, people from all over the world were praying for her,” said Valerie Jones, who coordinated the parade. "And God saw fit. It was God who saw fit to bring her home, and we’re so grateful.”

However, the celebration is bittersweet. Her recovery will be without her husband, the Rev. Donald Parker, the church’s pastor. He died of congestive heart failure on April 4, the day she was admitted.

“I lost my best friend,” Parker said. “First love of my life, my husband.”

She will be surrounded by plenty of family and friends.

“It means so much to our family,” said her granddaughter Akeyia Turner. “With us losing our grandfather, it’s a blessing to have my grandmother, here, at home in good health.”

Pearl River County has been hit hard by COVID-19. As of Thursday, there are 163 confirmed positive cases and 19 deaths.

Hospital officials said the county’s high numbers are from its close proximity to New Orleans and from its largely elderly population with the pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable.

Right now, the hospital has 14 confirmed cases.

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