WINSLOW — She was considered to be "actively dying" at six different times during her lengthy stay in the hospital for a severe case of COVID-19, but a 65-year-old has beat those odds and more, and is now continuing recovery at home following her discharge in December, just in time for the holidays.

"I don't remember being rushed to the hospital, I don't remember being in the hospital. I woke up in October, that's what I remember," Joanne Masciocchi told New Jersey 101.5.

Joanne, of the Cedarbrook section of Winslow Township, was admitted to Virtua Vorhees Hospital on Apr. 13, 2020. On Dec. 2, more than 230 days later, she was released from the rehabilitation unit within Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

According to Virtua Health, a 233-day hospital stay is far longer than usual for COVID-19 patients, and those hit as hard as Joanne typically don't survive.

For Joanne, a retired teacher's aide, impacts from COVID-19 included blood clots, organ failure, and respiratory failure. She spent five months on a ventilator and three in a coma, according to her family.

"My sister and I say we feel like we're living a dream, like it doesn't feel real yet that we're able to have our mom with us," said Alana, one of Joanne's two daughters.

When Joanne was considered to be actively dying — that occurred six times between late April and the middle of June — her family was able to visit to share what they thought would be their final moments with her.

But months later, Alana, her sister Danielle, and their father Art joined several Virtua staff members to cheer for Joanne as she left the hospital for the 30-minute drive home, where she was greeted by cheers once again.

Joanne Masciocchi is placed inside a Virtua medical transport unit to return home after 233 days of hospital care. (Virtua Health)
Joanne Masciocchi is placed inside a Virtua medical transport unit to return home after 233 days of hospital care. (Virtua Health)
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"When they tell me everything that I went through, I can't even imagine them going through it, and then me being that strong to get through it all," Joanne said.

In April, Joanne had not been vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19. But she is vaccinated now.

And her recovery is far from complete. Virtua noted that Joanne will remain closely connected through a variety of outpatient services, including home care, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

"I'm fighting to get to walking and get back to myself," Joanne said, noting that she had no underlying health conditions that would indicate why her COVID-19 battle was so harsh.

She remains on dialysis due to kidney issues caused by the virus.

"We've treated so many patients in her condition who did not make it," said Dr. Aaron Crookshank, a key member of Joanne's care team at Virtua. "She gives us hope and will help us to see possibilities when things are most dire for future patients."

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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