At The New Jewish Home’s COVID-19 Recovery Unit, a talented rehabilitation team, led by Lauren Raschen, helps patients regain their strength and resume their activities.

When The New Jewish Home opened its COVID-19 Recovery Unit in the Sutro building in January, it was a new initiative authorized by the New York State Department of Health to serve patients with COVID-19 being discharged from hospitals by helping them build the strength they needed to return home. With Director of Rehabilitation Lauren Raschen leading the therapy team, the patients are in good hands.

Lauren Raschen
Lauren Raschen

One of the first patients to arrive at the COVID-19 Recovery unit “had been in an independent living situation,” Lauren explained. “She passed out in the bathroom and hit her head, fracturing her cervical spine.” The patient was admitted to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with COVID; her doctors believed her fall was the result of her illness. “When she came to us, she required assistance with dressing, and she could only walk about 10 feet, with moderate assistance.” The rehabilitation therapists helped her regain her strength and independence, and in three weeks, having tested negative, she was ready to go home.

“When patients arrive, they are at least ten days post testing positive for COVID-19. There are two types of patients. The first group spent a long time in the hospital, and they may have suffered a stroke, possibly due to COVID, or had other ailments like dementia. The second group are people whose general health is much better; they live in assisted or independent living, but they can’t go back there until they test negative. Those patients are recovering faster and need less assistance.” Lauren said that 70 percent of her patients are very debilitated with other comorbidities, while 30 percent fall into the higher functioning category. In both groups, she said, “Most people get well and go home.”

While Lauren continues to supervise the entire rehabilitation team in Manhattan, her current physical location is in the COVID-19 Recovery Unit. Staff members who work in the COVID-19 Unit are specifically dedicated to that unit—they do not circulate between the two buildings that comprise the Manhattan campus. Lauren’s rehabilitation team includes physical, occupational, and speech and swallowing therapists. Read more about how these team members work with debilitated post-COVID patients to help them regain their strength.

Since all the patients in the COVID-19 Recovery unit have tested positive for the virus, there is a little more flexibility about shared spaces. “The gym is open to one person at a time, and the patients can walk in the hallway a bit. We’re still keeping people distanced for safety but there’s more flexibility in terms of moving people around,” Lauren said.

For the many patients who have passed through the COVID-19 Recovery Unit, Lauren and the rehabilitation staff provided the treatment they needed so they could resume their activities. Opening a unit that is dedicated 100 percent to COVID patients was a good idea,” Lauren reflected. “It’s great that we are able to support hospitals by giving patients a jump-start on their recovery.”