BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For the more than 1,600 people currently hospitalized with COVD-19 in Maryland, it’s not just about fighting the virus but also the psychological effects that come along with it.
Critical COVID-19 patients are dealing with anxiety from having difficulty breathing and being in a ventilator. They can also suffer from something known as ICU delirium, said Dr. Megan Hosey, a clinical psychologist who works with ICU patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“ICU delirium is kind of scary,” she said. ”(They have) difficulty tracking where (they) are and what’s happening to (them) and in the worst-case situation they tell us a little bit about hallucinations and delusions they experience.”
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Even after beating the disease, there can be physical, mental and emotional symptoms remaining. This is known as post-intensive care syndrome.
“Something kind of special about our COVID patients is ours are telling us when they’re heading home they might be a little bit worried about things like COVID stigma, the fear of loved ones and the people around them becoming ill, and they’re also afraid of infecting other people,” Hosey said.
Because COVID-19 is a relatively new disease, they’re still working to see how PICS affects COVID-19 patients. Dr. Hosey said it affects up to 70 percent of people who live through a critical illness, and one thing that helps is getting back to activities typically done before the illness.
Also there to help is Johns Hopkins’ new outpatient clinic designed specifically for COVID patients. It’s made up of pulmonary doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists and rehab psychologists. They call them the Post Acute COVID Team or PACT.
“The good news is that we know about this now and so that there are rehab measures that we can put into place to try to help people recover,” Hosey said.