After hospital discharge, COVID-19 recovery continues at home
William Barish was in Strong Memorial Hospital for COVID-19 treatment for about four weeks. Doctors placed him under anesthesia, intubated him and put him on a ventilator.
In the intensive care unit, Barish’s condition slowly improved. He moved to the regular hospital floor, and then, in late April, he was discharged.
Barish, 71, has been continuing his recovery outside the hospital for almost a month.
“I’m feeling really well,” he said. “I’m walking around Cobbs Hill, around the reservoir. And I’m not to where I’d like to be, but I’m doing much better.”
Dr. Anthony Pietropaoli, Strong Memorial’s director of medical intensive care service, said it’s typical for COVID-19 patients who have been treated in the ICU to need several weeks of recovery after their discharge.
The respiratory disease is not the only reason for the prolonged recovery, Pietropaoli said. People who have been treated in an ICU can develop post-intensive care syndrome. Patients can have persistent physical, cognitive and psychological disability after their discharge, he said.
Barish, who has been staying with his son in Rochester since his discharge, said he has no memory of his time in the ICU, but beyond that, he has not experienced some of the worst symptoms of post-intensive care syndrome.
Barish said home health staff set him up with an array of equipment to monitor his physical condition. He said he sends daily updates to the care team.
Allowing patients to continue recovery at home means that hospitals can save their beds for the most critically ill patients, said Jane Shukitis, the president and CEO of UR Medicine Home Care.
Shukitis said remote monitoring is especially important in a pandemic, because it lets health care workers track a patient’s progress while reducing the risk of virus transmission.
Some recovery work can’t be done remotely, though. Shukitis said workers who make home visits for nursing or physical or occupational therapy suit up in full personal protective gear.
“We try to minimize, when we need to, the amount of time we’re in the home and the amount of physical touch, but with therapy, obviously, touch is part of the intervention,” Shukitis said.
She said no UR Medicine home health staff have contracted the novel coronavirus through their work.