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For most patients, life after an ICU stay is filled with unexpected challenges. Doctors are now learning more about patients with ‘PICS’ or Post Intensive Care Syndrome and the best ways to help them recover.
Connie Bovier enters the hospital with open arms to hug the medical staff that saved her. Last May she walked into the emergency room and collapsed. The first thing she remembered?
Bovier said, “My oldest son looking at me and saying, ‘Mom do you know where you are?”
Connie spent 22 days in the Intensive Care Unit with Pneumonia, Sepsis and Blood Clots in her lungs.
Brad W. Butcher, MD, Director and founder, Critical Illness Recovery Center, Director, Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit, UPMC Mercy Hospital said, “Her respiratory failure was so severe that she needed to be paralyzed and flipped onto her belly in the hospital bed in order to increase the oxygen so we could deliver it to her bloodstream.”
Connie survived the deadly infection. She’s used to beating the odds, breaking barriers in the seventies as one of the first female telephone splicers. This single mother of five hates feeling afraid and weak.
Bovier said, “I can’t even put a water pitcher in my fridge.”
Doctor Butcher says U.S. experts are just beginning to recognize the combination of physical, cognitive and mental health issues like depression and anxiety that plague patients once they are discharged.
Butcher said, “Cognitively, they may have a difficult time remembering things, difficulty concentrating or paying attention to something.”
Last year Doctor Butcher developed a critical illness recovery center. ICU patients are evaluated shortly after discharge and then referred to specialized physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy. Critical support for patients on the very long road to recovery.
Bovier said, “This is the journey to my best life.” She’s here to enjoy her family’s big days.
Doctor Butcher says the clinic in Pittsburgh is one of a handful in the U.S. that address the group of symptoms that plague patients with post ICU syndrome.