We hear a great deal these days about those who have died from COVID-19, but thankfully there’s also a large group of people who have survived the virus.
In New York, stable coronavirus patients have been discharged from hospitals to segregated units in nursing homes and I’ve had the chance to talk with many of these individuals in recent weeks. This column focuses on my clinical impressions of their mental health status.
Who they are
The residents with whom I’ve spoken were cognitively intact and referred for psychological evaluation due to symptoms of depression identified on the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Unsurprisingly given the circumstances, most new admissions have some signs of depression.
While short-term rehab units often receive clients from assisted living facilities and group homes such as those for people with developmental disabilities, there are more of these folks than usual. They join the majority who come from private houses or apartments. As one would expect in New York City, it’s an international crowd.
How they’re coping
While, of course, each person has distinct experiences, I noticed several types of responses to COVID-19.
Some residents, despite their initial depressive symptoms upon entering yet another unfamiliar medical environment, are almost giddy with relief that they made it out of the hospital to recover from the virus. Others are calm and accepting of the situation, expressing a feeling that God has helped them through. I don’t find that they require psychological services, but they’re uniformly glad that support was offered and that it’s available during their stay should they feel the need.