Billy's Story of Gratitude

Billy with his wife, Desa, and daughter, Gianna Billy Mandarino, his wife, Desa, and daughter, Gianna

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“There’s no place I’d rather be in a medical emergency than here in Santa Barbara because we have Cottage.”

—Billy Mandarino

In January 2021, all three members of the Mandarino family contracted COVID-19. Billy was bedridden with a fever for days, while his wife, Desa, and daughter, Gianna, had less severe symptoms.

Billy began feeling better, thought he had recovered, and was excited to play golf again and get back to his active life.

What he didn’t know was that he was about to face the biggest challenge of his life.

“I had been feeling fine, and then one morning I woke up to find my hands, feet, and face numb,” Billy said. As his symptoms quickly worsened, Desa helped him to the car and took him to the Emergency Department at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Billy Mandarino embracing his family

“The Cottage ER saved my life.” —Billy Mandarino

Billy was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system. In Billy’s case, GBS had now paralyzed him, and he was unable to walk.

“The speed at which Cottage diagnosed and treated me made all the difference,” he said.

After a week in the Critical Care unit, Billy was transferred to Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital, where he regained his strength and began to learn to walk and talk again. Two weeks later he was able to return home, and with intensive outpatient therapy he made a complete recovery.

“I’m in awe of the care I received at Cottage,” he says. “The staff at Cottage are shining examples of commitment, compassion, dedication and service.”