Many coronavirus patients require lengthy rehabilitation

Eliana and Humberto Hernandez have been married for 66 years and made their vows in sickness and in health. Now, the once perfectly healthy couple is suffering lingering health issues after contracting the coronavirus.

They are undergoing COVID-19 rehabilitation, an important part of recovery that isn’t discussed often.

"I am very, very weak. I cannot stand to eat," Eliana Hernandez said. 

"They are both struggling with endurance levels, mobility, and getting back to their independence…brushing their hair and brushing their teeth is very difficult for them," said Lulu Silva, the couple's physical therapist. 

Silva said many patients require intense physical therapy from spending weeks in the hospital. 

"What we do is, with them, we get them out of bed, we walk with them, simple activities, maybe to the door and back and then to the bathroom door," said Silva. 

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The director of rehabilitation services says COVID-19 rehab is a powerful part of recovery, a process that is personally individualized.

"They have to learn again, how to swallow, they have to learn again what is appropriate for them for eating, some of them need help with speaking again. Rehab is so crucial for these patients," explained Mary Harrison, Director of Rehab Services at Miami-based Mercy Hospital.

"I love my patients and if I can get them back home with their families, it is what I look forward to, it is what I wake up to in the mornings," Silva added.

The director tells us the couple should be at the center for a few more weeks until they can get back on their feet.

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