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Final steps of her journey back happen close to home
Seven months after it began, a Niagara County Woman’s journey in the shadows of COVID-19 came to a happy conclusion when she was discharged from the specialized ventilator care unit at Elderwood at Williamsville on Friday.
Mary Corio’s journey began in March when she was admitted to Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston with a coronavirus infection. At the time of her admission, the 64-year-old was suffering from respiratory failure and complications with asthma. Following her initial treatment, she was transferred to the Catholic Health System’s dedicated COVID-19 facility at Sisters Hospital-St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga.
Corio’s condition remained grave: She was paralyzed, ventilator-dependent, and was in a prone position for more than six weeks. As Catholic Health wound-down its COVID-19-only operations at Sisters Hospital-St. Joseph Campus, she was again transferred, still on a ventilator, this time to Mercy Hospital of Buffalo.
Her COVID-19 journey took her even further away from home when she was again transferred to Select Specialty Hospital’s ventilator unit in Erie, Pennsylvania, in hopes of improving her pulmonary function and weaning off the ventilator. She remained there for nearly a month. Select’s clinicians projected she could remain on the ventilator for as long as a year. The facility was distant – nearly two hours from home – making family visits difficult.
A chance meeting with a pulmonary specialist from Elderwood at Williamsville led to her transfer to Elderwood’s subacute ventilator unit, the only subacute weaning ventilator unit in Western New York. Corio was admitted to Elderwood at Williamsville on May 25 with a very compromised respiratory condition. At the time she arrived, she couldn't move her extremities well and was on a feeding tube. She also had dropped foot due to the length of time she remained paralyzed.
“Supported by family and friends, as well as a talented team of physicians, therapists and clinical professional, Mary’s recovery is a tribute to her fighting spirit. Her ability to receive care much closer to home was no doubt a factor in her remarkable recovery; we hope that more providers in the region are aware of this important and unique resource,” said Anne Taggart, RRT, director of respiratory therapy for Elderwood at Williamsville.
Elderwood’s medical staff and clinical team started weaning protocol at the end of June with CPAP/PS trials. Eventually, Corio started trach collar trials using Elderwood’s Hi-Flow set-up. She was totally weaned off the vent on Aug. 16 and remained on a hi-flow trach collar on room air for two more weeks. She was completely free from artificial breathing assistance on Aug. 31.
As Corio neared the end of her journey home, she was taking the final steps herself. As the result of extensive therapy at Elderwood at Williamsville, she is now walking, the feeding tube has been removed, and she is able to manage her activities of daily living independently.