Nurse and Patient

“They made me feel like I was the only person in this hospital. That helped so much.” –Cindy

After a long battle with COVID-19, including a 3-week hospital stay and 5 days on a ventilator, Cindy turned to UPMC Western Maryland’s Comprehensive Inpatient Rehab Unit (CIRU) to prepare for her return home. Having never been apart from her husband for more than 4 days in over 47 years, she was determined to get back to him, as well as to her children, church family, and friends. Just wanting to be home with them continually pushed her to get better.

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Considering the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

Though she had defeated COVID-19, an important part of Cindy’s journey to independence had to take place before she could safely return home. Several caregivers suggested Cindy enter the CIRU at UPMC Western Maryland. The facility consists of 13 private patient rooms, a bright dining room with views of the Allegheny Mountains, a spacious therapy gym, and a transitional apartment to practice the tasks and skills needed to succeed in life after rehab. Patients receive approximately 3 hours of daily therapy, 6 days of the week.

While Cindy’s care would come from several additional departments at UPMC Western Maryland, she spent the most time on 7 South in the COVID-19 unit, followed by 5 days in the interdisciplinary rehab program to recondition herself to perform tasks she would need at home. “From beginning to end, the care I received every step of the way was amazing,” Cindy says. “Everyone was super nice. They made me feel like I was the only person in this hospital. That helped so much.”

Recovering in the Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit

The CIRU program is dedicated to providing comprehensive rehabilitative services for patients with physical, functional thinking, and swallowing and/or communication impairments. By following a team approach, the CIRU provides sound rehabilitative therapy to effect positive change in functional ability, independence, and self-reliance across a variety of environments, while protecting and promoting the rights of the patient. It’s just what Cindy needed to transition back home after a long hospital stay.

The focus of Cindy’s care was to refamiliarize her with doing basic tasks while hooked up to an oxygen tank. Her days in the CIRU consisted of working with staff to practice things like getting dressed, executing kitchen skills, and showering and making the bed without tripping over the cord or knocking over the tank. An oxygen tank can be cumbersome for patients who have never had to use it. Learning to maneuver with it is an important step in the process.

Setting Goals for Independence — Then Exceeding Them

During her stay, Cindy made a list of goals and worked to complete them. Time spent in the CIRU also allowed Cindy to regain the confidence she had lost during her COVID-19 battle. “I am so thankful I did this,” she says. “Going home right away would have been more challenging, and I’d be a lot slower than I am now. I would recommend this program to anyone. It’s a good step to take.”

As for the perspective she gained during her illness and rehab, Cindy thinks she is one of the lucky ones. “My life has changed forever,” she says. “I’ve always had a positive attitude, but I will never take anything for granted again.”

Cindy’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

To learn more about the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, please visit our website.

About UPMC Rehabilitation Institute

The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers inpatient, outpatient, and transitional rehabilitation, as well as outpatient physician services so that care is available to meet the needs of our patients at each phase of the recovery process. Renowned physiatrists from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as highly trained physical, occupational, and speech therapists, provide individualized care in 12 inpatient units within acute care hospitals and over 80 outpatient locations close to home and work.