Local COVID-19 Survivor Returns Home after 233 Days of Inpatient Care

South Jersey woman looks forward to Christmas with family
after harrowing health ordeal

Dec. 16, 2021 - In what many would describe as a holiday miracle, Joanne Masciocchi has returned home after spending eight months in various hospitals and care facilities.

The 65-year-old Berlin, N.J., resident entered Virtua Voorhees Hospital on April 13 with severe COVID-19, and was ultimately discharged from the rehabilitation unit within Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden on December 2.

Joanne’s 233-day hospital stay is far longer than usual for COVID-19 patients. And those with such severe illness typically don’t survive.

“It’s hard to get the words out. We prayed for this day, but weren’t sure it would come,” said Joanne’s daughter Danielle Masciocchi. “I’m overjoyed.”

Danielle, her sister Alana Masciocchi, and their father (Joanne’s husband) Arthur “Art” Masciocchi recently gathered with about two dozen staff members to cheer and applaud as Joanne left Virtua’s Camden hospital for the 30-minute drive home via Virtua Medical Transport.

“It’s amazing and emotional to see her go home after everything she’s been through. Her family, too, has been put through the ringer,” said Joann Larkins, MSN, RN, CRRN, nursing director at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes.

Aaron Crookshank, MD – a pulmonologist and a key member of Joanne’s care team at Virtua – also attended the celebratory farewell.

“We’ve treated so many patients in her condition who did not make it,” he said. “I visited Joanne on Thanksgiving and told her how thankful I am for her recovery. She gives us hope and will help us to see possibilities when things are most dire for future patients.”

Joanne’s health ordeal included blood clots, organ failure, and respiratory failure. The retired teacher’s aide and former Winslow School Board member was on a ventilator for five months and not fully conscious for about three months, according to her family.

“The challenge with COVID is that you can work incredibly hard and feel as though you are making no progress. The treatment plan can be so intensive, so unrelenting for both the patient and the providers,” Dr. Crookshank said. “It took each hospital, each staff member, and the support of the family to get Joanne to this point in her recovery.”

Despite “beating the odds” – as many of her care providers have described it – Joanne’s recovery is far from complete. She will remain closely connected to Virtua Health through a variety of outpatient services, including home care, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

With the more-contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 now spreading in the Greater Philadelphia region, the staff at Virtua Health emphasizes vaccination, mask-wearing, and social distancing as critical ways people can protect themselves and others – and show support for medical personnel.

“Health care workers are experiencing burn-out, but we continue to show up and support each other and the community,” said Sarah Adair-Donovan, RN, BSN, another of Joanne’s care providers at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes. “COVID is real, and we ask that people do everything they can to stay safe.”

To learn more about COVID-19 or to schedule a vaccination or booster-shot appointment, please visit virtua.org/vaccine.