MIRACLE MARY: After 7 months of Covid care, a Niagara resident heads home

Mary Corio of the Town of Niagara hugs her grandchildren, Stayley and Merrick Grudzinski, as she celebrates her release from Elderwood's Williamsville rehab facility. (Contributed image)

A long, difficult journey came to a happy ending Friday for a Town of Niagara woman.

Mary Corio, 64, was released from the Elderwood at Williamsville Ventilator Unit.

Corio left her Elderwood family but will continue physical therapy at home while attempting to resume her former life.

Corio was hospitalized in early March with life-threatening complications from COVID-19. On March 20 her worst fear was realized as she was placed on a ventilator. Over the course of the next six weeks, she fought for her life in St. Joseph’s ICU.

The outlook was grim as her family was told they should consider end-of-life preparations.

But “God had other plans," her son Ed Grudzinski of Hamburg said. “With the odds stacked against Mary, the amazing doctors and nurses worked tirelessly and eventually, Mary’s condition slowly started to improve.”

Once stable, Corio was transferred to Mercy Hospital in Buffalo for a brief stint.

Her next destination was Select Hospital in Erie, Pa., with hope that the acclaimed facility could wean her off the ventilator most quickly and efficiently. Select is said to be one of the best weaning hospitals around.

Unfortunately, the hospital staff determined the weaning process would take many months for Corio. Select could not accept her insurance and her care there came with a hefty cash price tag — her family had to shell out upwards of $40,000, Grudzinski said.

Friends and family raised more than $35,000 through Gofundme to help offset the family’s costs.

A two-hour ambulance ride brought Corio to Elderwood in Williamsville on May 25.

The team of respiratory therapists greeted Corio with compassion and commitment, and on Aug. 30 she was successfully weaned off all equipment and was breathing on her own. She has been recuperating there ever since.

Thanks to physical, occupational and speech therapists, Corio, who came to Elderwood unable to move most of her extremities, eventually re-learned to walk, talk, eat, dress and gain back her independence one day at a time.

“I never want to see someone go through what I have in the last seven months,” Corio said. “My mission is I am trying to encourage people. I never was a vaccine person. I didn’t get a flu shot. Please get vaccinated. Chances are, you won’t be a miracle like I was. You don’t want to be on a ventilator.”

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