Rainbow Rehabilitation Centers has started a Post COVID-19 Outpatient Rehabilitation Recovery Program. Kip Worley works with physical therapist Kayla Daniels March 29.

Rainbow Rehabilitation Centers has started a Post COVID-19 Outpatient Rehabilitation Recovery Program. Kip Worley works with physical therapist Kayla Daniels March 29.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Health care officials respond to COVID-19 recovery needs

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published April 15, 2021


METRO DETROIT — Recovering from COVID-19 can be a long process, and health care officials are seeing a new need to support people through it.

Henry Ford Health System has established a specialty clinic to treat COVID-19 and other patients who have lingering cognitive, emotional and mental health conditions after being hospitalized in the intensive care unit.

Henry Ford’s Post ICU Brain Health Clinic recently opened at its neuropsychology centers in West Bloomfield and Detroit.

Clinic staff conduct evaluations, make recommendations for treatment and provide resources for people 55 and older who have been hospitalized in the ICU in the past year and continue to experience cognitive, behavioral or psychiatric symptoms.

Caregivers are also offered services to help them learn new tools for caring for and supporting loved ones, as well as home health visits to assist patients with using telemedicine.

According to a press release, the clinic is headed by board-certified neuropsychologists with specialized expertise in aging, neuropsychiatric conditions and the assessment and treatment of older adults.

It was made possible by a $500,000 Healthy Aging Grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

A portion of the funding will be allocated to help uninsured patients “overcome their financial barrier to receiving these much-needed services.”

“Patients who end up in the ICU can experience lasting issues with mental processing and carrying out simple tasks,” project coordinator Maya Pinjala stated in the release. “Also, emotional issues may be compounded because patients are not able to have visitors in the hospital or establish a personal connection with their providers because of the face mask and other PPE they’re wearing.”

Brad Merker is the division head of neuropsychology for Henry Ford’s Behavioral Health Services.

“This clinic aims to minimize post-intensive care syndrome symptoms and maximize a patient’s recovery from serious illness,” Merker stated.

Jill Hamilton-Krawczyk, of Rainbow Rehabilitation Centers, said their Outpatient Rehabilitation Recovery Program started “probably a few months after COVID really hit hard and certain people were beginning to recover.”

Rainbow has been a provider of rehabilitation services for children, teens and adults with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, orthopedic injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders since 1983.

It has locations in Farmington Hills, Southfield, Waterford, Livonia, Flint and Ypsilanti.

Hamilton-Krawczyk discussed Rainbow’s decision to get a COVID-19 recovery program started.

“We saw the need, and we saw the effects of COVID on people and knew right away that we could incorporate our rehabilitation services to meet the needs of people recovering from COVID-19,” she said.

Anybody who has experienced difficulties related to COVID-19, even if not hospitalized for it, can be part of the recovery program.

Hamilton-Krawczyk elaborated on the program.

“It’s a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan, which includes individualized therapy for common symptoms related to COVID-19,” she said. “People may struggle with correct breathing mechanics, limited endurance, and also, due to the symptoms of COVID-19, the neck and upper back can become tight and stiffen. A lot of it is a comprehensive treatment to deal with the aftereffects of having COVID.”

Patients who enter the program may see physical, occupational and speech language therapists.

Rainbow Chief Clinical Officer Janice White expanded on the role occupational and speech language therapists can play for patients who are part of the program.

“It can include occupational therapy, which is activities of daily living: cooking, bathing, all those things,” White said. “It could also include speech therapy, because one of the symptoms people are having is a cognitive fog, having trouble with memory, things like that. So, they can teach them some compensatory strategies to help in the meantime or work on the actual improvement of the skill.”

White shared her thoughts about Rainbow’s initiative to adapt to the times and include a COVID-19 recovery program as part of its services.

“I think that the pandemic, obviously, has restructured our world,” she said. “And so it was a natural response to restructure what we’re doing to meet the needs in the large population that are affected. … I think people are concerned and scared, just because it’s new and everybody doesn’t have the same reaction,” she said.

A physician’s prescription is required for treatment.

For more information, visit rainbowrehab.com. Referrals for patients and their caregivers via Henry Ford Health System can be made by calling (313) 874-4846.