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After three month battle with COVID-19, community welcomes back home survivor

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DENHAM SPRINGS - Dolores Battistella is back at home surrounded by many familiar families. Friends and family welcomed her back Sunday morning with a drive-by parade.

"Surprised the living stuffing out of me," Battistella said of the surprise homecoming celebration. "These are all my good friends, my relatives."

Over the past three months, many didn't know if she'd ever return to her Livingston Parish home.

The 77-year-old spent nearly 90 days in the hospital battling COVID-19 and complications brought on by the virus.

"We fought together for 89 days," Battistella's daughter, Lisa Paternostro said. "I just felt like today was a special day for her that we needed to celebrate her life. She fought hard for it, and I felt like she deserved it."

During those three months, Battistella, who remained intubated for much of that time, coded on life support four times. On a handful of other occasions, it appeared she was ready to give up. Her family says that wasn't an option.

"I got the phone call at midnight a few times when she was just ready to be let go, and told me she was ready, and to call the family and let them know she's at peace," Paternostro said. "I would just beg and plead with her, and talked to her about God and the people who supported her and how far she's come.] She'd get through that night, and the next day was 'a whole nother' day and we'd start all over."

On those occasions, it was her fighting spirit along with the prayers of family, friends, and strangers that pulled her through.

"They prayed a lot," Battistella's husband, Herb said. "It was a lot of people praying. I mean a bunch."

Among the crowd of neighbors and friends passing by, was a nurse who cared for Battistella during her hospital stay.

"There are so many patients who don't make it home because of COVID, it's so sad," Esmeralda Castillo said. "There were moments where I was like, eh, but she was a champ."

Back in the comfort of her own home, and on the mend, Battistella knows while it was the prayers and faith that pulled her through, there were a few other things that helped.

"My daughter fussing at me not to give up," Battistella said.


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