Virginia Osborne and family

Virginia Osborne is pictured with her two daughters, Lisa Wileman (left) and Norma Thompson-Starr.

ST. MARYS — A St. Marys woman is speaking out regarding the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s recent death as a result of COVID-19.

Virginia Osborne, 91, was formerly in a rehabilitation and nursing home in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, in Lycoming County, says her granddaughter Kristin Wileman. Osborne was relocated to St. Marys around two weeks ago, and died May 6.

Elk County Coroner Michelle Muccio-Krise confirmed Thursday that a 91-year-old woman, who relocated to Elk County from another county several days before her death, had died as a result of COVID-19. According to Wileman, her grandmother is Elk County’s first and only COVID-19 death to date.

“The night before her relocation, her roommate was taken out due to the positive test, and they did a precautionary test on my grandmother,” Wileman said. “She was picked up last Tuesday, and moved into my mother’s home. Later that evening, she got a call saying her test results showed positive, and the household was put under quarantine.”

Wileman said her mother, Lisa, tried to get Osborne out of the nursing home three weeks prior to a confirmed case.

“Where she was at, the closest relative was almost an hour away,” she said. “She was scared and upset, and begged for someone to come and get her.”

Wileman has kept her friends on Facebook informed when it comes to her grandmother’s battle. On May 5, she posted that Osborne had taken a turn for the worse, going into renal failure and being moved to a Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) machine for oxygen.

“Let this be a reminder of how quickly this virus can cause mass chaos within the human body,” the post says.

As far as underlying conditions go, Wileman said her grandmother was born with cerebral palsy, and fought and won many medical battles, including stage-four Lymphoma.

Osborne never received any type of medical care for COVID-19 until an incident occurred May 2 that resulted in her being taken to Penn Highlands Elk, Wileman said.

Wileman was tested for COVID-19 herself in DuBois Thursday and is awaiting the results.

“I was the one going in and checking her vitals daily, and while I gowned up and took precautions, I didn’t have access to all the right PPE (personal protective equipment),” she said.

Wileman also has heart valve disease, which could be a risk factor for her, she said. It took her doctor’s office making several calls to get the test approved.

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) staff at PH Elk went above and beyond to care for Osborne when her family couldn’t be there for her, Wileman adds.

“They cried with us and treated her with such a high level of love and compassion,” she said.

Wileman’s mother and those in the household have complied with the isolation guidelines, she said, and nobody has exhibited symptoms so far.

She is “on board” when it comes to clearing up misinformation about COVID-19, Wileman says.

“This virus was nothing like we had been told to expect,” she said. “She exhibited zero symptoms until it was too late. If there is a positive side to her passing, this is it. Real life experience teaches us things text books can’t.”

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