The next coronavirus nightmare is what happens after the ICU

Decades of research shows many of the sickest ICU patients will never return to their former selves. An ailment called Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) causes cognitive, physical, and psychological problems in up to 80 percent of all critical-care survivors. About a third never return to work.

Now physicians say they are witnessing many of these effects in COVID-19 survivors, at a scale they’ve never seen before. And some are not sure we’re ready for the influx of ICU survivors this crisis will bring.

“I believe and I feel this with every part of me, that the same way there’s been a surge in need for hospital beds, there’s going to be a surge in need for rehab beds,” said Miguel Escalón, the vice chair of the rehabilitation department at Mount Sinai. “The question is, how will the system step up to meet this?”

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