herald

Monday 16 September 2019

'I survived horror crash but now I've been left homeless', says ex-model Jodie

23-year-old spent two months in coma after being hit by car

Jodie Regazzoli
Jodie Regazzoli

A former Miss Ireland contestant who made a miraculous recovery after being struck by a car last year has been left homeless following her release from hospital.

Jodie Regazzoli (23), from Balbriggan, was given just a 3pc chance of survival after sustaining traumatic injuries in the incident near the Pavilions Shopping Centre, in Swords, while on her way to work in April 2018.

She was launched into the air and crashed through the windscreen of the car that had struck her.

Fortunately, there was an ambulance in traffic behind the incident, and Ms Regazzoli was rushed to Beaumont Hospital with critical injuries.

Doctors informed her devastated family that if the former model and River Island worker was to survive, she would never walk or talk again.

Jobless

However, after undergoing multiple operations, her condition drastically improved.

Although she walked out of hospital seven months later, the Dubliner was faced with further challenges when she was left jobless and without a home.

Speaking to the Herald, Ms Regazzoli said she is now sleeping in hotels or on friends' couches.

"My long-term goal is to just get a home and have somewhere to recover," she said.

"If I don't intensively recover now what's going to happen to me in a few years?

"It's hard having to depend on everyone else because before the accident I was such a strong, independent person.

"I have been denied medical priority from Fingal County Council, even though they had a list of my physical and brain injuries.

"At the minute I'm just sleeping in hotels and on couches."

More than a year since her accident, Ms Regazzoli suffers from post-traumatic stress and still needs to undergo several more operations in Beaumont.

"I'm constantly a nervous wreck and get very stressed because I'm over-thinking. I need to find somewhere to recover now so I can have a long, strong life," she said.

The 23-year-old was speaking in Beaumont Hospital yesterday at the annual Honour Your Heroes Day.

She was among seven other patients who talked about the circumstances that brought them to the hospital and the care they received before calling on their healthcare hero to accept their award.

Ms Regazzoli honoured healthcare assistant Natasha Moran, who she credited as playing a pivotal role in her recovery in the Richmond Intensive Care Unit.

"I nominated Natasha because she was there from the minute I woke up," she said.

"I just needed someone to take care of me and that lady didn't leave my side. She was out with me every day making sure I was OK.

"She always took the time to come and talk to me and she was the only person I would allow to shower and care for me.

"She was there for me through my time on the ward and, in fact, the whole team on Richmond Ward were such a huge support for me during my time in Beaumont."

The young Dubliner said she had also lost many of her memories after the accident.

"When I came around after spending two months in a coma, I had lost a huge amount of my memory," she said.

"Although my grandfather who raised me had died seven years previously, I had to relive the news of his death, including many other of my life events.

"My physical injuries were also immense, which included a shattered pelvis, a broken knee, hip and shoulder, nerve damage down the left side of my body and a very traumatic brain injury.

"I could do nothing for myself when I came around from the coma. Over six weeks I began to improve but I remember the doctors saying to me that I wouldn't be able to sit up for another two years.

Wheelchair

"I was in a wheelchair and had to be hoisted in and out of bed. I couldn't even lift my arms up.

"Part of my skull even had to be removed to relieve the pressure in my head, which saved my life.

"From a young age I was always a very independent, active person.

"I absolutely loved working in River Island and also competed in modelling competitions, including Miss Ireland just a year before the accident.

"I still have a long road of recovery ahead of me with a few more surgeries to go, which means Beaumont hasn't got rid of me yet.

"Now I just feel strong enough to keep on going and I'm only getting better."

A Fingal County Council spokesperson told the Herald that it does not comment on the specific circumstances of social housing support applicants.

However, they said the local authority made every effort to support applicants, especially those who find themselves in difficult or vulnerable circumstances through homelessness or medical needs.

"In each case, there is a requirement for basic information, which informs the council as to the individual needs of each applicant," the spokesperson said.

"If applicants are disappointed with a decision there is an appeals process."

Paddy Delaney, managing director of the Beaumont Hospital Foundation, said Honour Your Heroes Day showcases the human face of healthcare.

"Many of those who shared their personal accounts have had to fight long and hard on the road to their recovery," he said.

"But with the support of Beaumont and its staff, they have made a return to health.

"Many have even gone on to fundraise for improved patient care at Beaumont Hospital."

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