Cleveland, OH,
09:18 AM

MetroHealth’s Creates COVID-19 Rehabilitation Unit to Provide Intensive Therapy for Patients

CLEVELAND – A new rehabilitation unit that opened in April at The MetroHealth System has moved to a larger space on its main campus to accommodate a growing number of COVID-19 patients with the virus who need intensive rehabilitation.

The COVID-19 Rehabilitation Unit, which includes a therapy gym, is currently at full capacity with 11 patients in private rooms. Full acute inpatient rehabilitation services are provided by rehabilitation nurses, therapists, physicians and other specialists. The age range of the patients in the COVID-19 rehab unit is from early 50s to over 90.

Rehabilitation units designed specifically to treat COVID-19 patients are currently not the norm, said Victoria Whitehair, MD, Medical Director of Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation at the MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute and Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Case Western Reserve University.

“Like many other health systems, we have a great rehab unit,” Dr. Whitehair said. “But we also regularly treat very medically complex patients. It wasn’t a big leap for us to consider how to provide rehab services for those patients.”

Intensive rehabilitation is an important part of recovery for some patients with COVID-19 who have had lengthy hospital stays or have spent time on a ventilator. Preliminary discussions surrounding a special unit for COVID-19 patients began in mid-March. The rehab unit opened in early April after the extent of the need was better known and after learning from the experiences of hospitals in Italy and New York, Dr. Whitehair said.

“The key was to have a partnership with the Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine divisions,” she said. Essentially, the rehab unit had to take on some characteristics of an infectious disease unit, accommodating the need for caregivers to wear full personal protective equipment.

The decision to place the COVID-19 Rehabilitation Unit at main campus instead of sending patients to MetroHealth’s inpatient rehabilitation at MetroHealth’s Old Brooklyn Campus (just one mile away) was made to keep patients with the virus separated from other rehab patients, many of whom are at high risk of illness. Having the Internal Medicine COVID team co-manage the rehab unit so that more serious patients could be accepted; and being in closer proximity to the Intensive Care Unit also were factors in the decision.

In addition to the rehabilitation therapies, patients also receive telehealth visits with Rehabilitation Psychologists.

About The MetroHealth System

The MetroHealth System is redefining health care by going beyond medical treatment to improve the foundations of community health and well-being: affordable housing, a cleaner environment, economic opportunity and access to fresh food, convenient transportation, legal help and other services. The system strives to become as good at preventing disease as it is at treating it.

The system’s more than 600 doctors, 1,700 nurses and 7,800 employees go to work each day with a mission of service, to their patients and to the community. As Cuyahoga County’s safety-net health system, MetroHealth plays an essential role in the region, caring for anyone and everyone, regardless of an ability to pay.

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth operates four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites throughout Cuyahoga County. The system serves more than 300,000 patients, two-thirds of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

MetroHealth is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and Ohio’s only adult and pediatric trauma and burn center.

As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to research and to teaching and training tomorrow’s caregivers. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Its main campus hospital houses the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Lincoln-West School of Science & Health, the only high school in America located inside a hospital.

Knowing that good health is about much more than good medical care, MetroHealth has launched the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ (Health, Opportunity, Partnership, Empowerment), which uses a coordinated, collaborative and strategic approach to help patients with non-medical needs such as healthy food, stable housing and job training.

The MetroHealth Glick Center, a new 11-floor hospital, is under construction on the system’s main campus in Cleveland and is scheduled to welcome its first patients in October 2022. The billion-dollar project is the cornerstone of a wider neighborhood revitalization effort led by the system and its partners in the community.

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