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Doctors helping patients with post intensive care syndrome

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – For many people who have been admitted to a hospital intensive care unit, recovery does not end once they are released to go home. For most, 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?

“My oldest son looking at me and saying, ‘Mom do you know where you are?’” said Bovier.

Bovier spent 22 days in the intensive care unit with pneumonia, sepsis and blood clots in her lungs.

“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,” said Brad W. Butcher, MD, Director and founder, Critical Illness Recovery Center, and Director, Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit at UPMC Mercy Hospital.

Bovier 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.

“I can’t even put a water pitcher in my fridge,” Bovier shared.

Dr. 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.

“Cognitively, they may have a difficult time remembering things, difficulty concentrating or paying attention to something,” Dr. Butcher explained.

Last year Dr. 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.

“This is the journey to my best life,” Bovier said.

She’s here to enjoy her family’s big days.

Dr. Butcher says the clinic in Pittsburgh is one of a handful in the U.S. They address the group of symptoms that plague patients with post ICU syndrome, issues that most family care practitioners don’t have the time to cover in a 30-minute visit. He says hospitals in Europe began addressing PICS several years ago by developing clinics to evaluate these patients.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.