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Bill Parker leaves Lake Martin Community Hospital after 52 days and recovering from COVID-19.

Chocolate ice cream and love — the cure for the coronavirus.

Or at least that’s what Chapman Healthcare Center resident “Wild Bill” Parker said helped him recover after a 52-day stay at Lake Martin Community Hospital.

Parker returned Thursday through the same door he left from at Chapman nearly two months ago. The only difference is now he has recovered from the COVID-19.

As hospital staff cared for the 79-year-old during his stay, Parker said his remedy, while not scientifically proven, was one almost anybody could enjoy.

“I got spoiled there with chocolate ice cream,” Parker said. “That is how you get over it.”

Parker was the first resident to be taken from Chapman but is not the only resident to recover from COVID-19.

“Chapman Healthcare has had 17 residents recover from the virus,” Chapman administrator Ashleigh Taylor said. “The oldest we have had to recover was 98 years old.”

As Parker was wheeled out the doors of Lake Martin Community Hospital, staff waved saying their goodbyes.

“We love you,” and “We will miss you,” could be heard from many of the staff members, all waving and holding balloons.

Being the kind gentleman he is, Parker waved back, “I’ll miss you too.”

Taylor said that is just Parker.

“He is the sweetest,” Taylor said. “Everyone just loves him.”

Taylor said she wasn’t sure if Lake Martin Community Hospital would give him back after everyone fell in love with him.

“They told me they weren’t going to give him back,” Taylor said. “I told them they got to. He’s our baby too. Oh my God, it’s wonderful to have him back. I’m so glad he is back.”

Taylor remembers the day he left after testing positive for the virus March 31.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Taylor said. “He was the first one to go out. They were loading him up on the ambulance right here and he was waving goodbye.”

Parker returned with the same waves Thursday.

“I love it,” Taylor said. “He came back a waving.”

Parker was asymptomatic for COVID-19.

“He never ran a fever,” Taylor said. “He only got his first negative test last week.”

Parker got his second negative COVID-19 test this week allowing his return to the Alexander City long-term care facility.

Taylor only two Chapman residents remain at Lake Martin Community Hospital and she will continue what she has been doing with Parker.

“I went down there every weekend and looked through his window and checked on him,” Taylor said. “I go down, check on them. I wave at them and let them know we still care about them.”

Parker may like the chocolate ice cream at Lake Martin Community Hospital but many in the area remember him working at Russell Corp. where he got his nickname “Wild Bill.”

“I worked Russell, tore up the trucks more than anything else,” Parker said. “So, they just called me ‘Wild Bill.’”

Others might remember him for his daily breakfast ritual at Burger King.

“Every morning I drank coffee and ate biscuits,” Parker said.

Now he is ready to return to his rituals at Chapman, especially breakfast.

“I eat eggs and biscuits and bacon,” Parker said. “Pink stuff too.”

Parker’s loving nature has gotten everyone to spoil him with his favorite — chocolate.

“I got you a bag of Hershey’s in there,” Taylor told Parker on Thursday.

Parker responded with a grin, pushing his cheeks above his surgical mask. The staff gathered outside laughed as he grinned. It seemed Parker had the attention of the female staff.

“I like my chocolate,” Parker said. “They can come in there and get it if they want.”

Parker said he hopes no one else gets the coronavirus. But Taylor said Parker’s self-admitted cure-all for COVID-19 will be ready.

“Well, if they do get it, we will just get them chocolate cream,” Taylor said. “They’ll get over it just like you.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health added a presumed recoveries category to its COVID-19 statistics dashboard to be updated weekly. As of Thursday night, there have been 7,951 presumed recoveries of the more than 13,200 cases confirmed in the state. There have been 529 COVID-19 deaths and 1,549 hospitalizations, according to ADPH.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.