Mexico City.- “Very grateful to all the nurses for the care they have given me, they care about the human being,” Serafin said between tears and smiles when he expressed to Excelsior that thanks to them, a month after contracting covid-19 and being in serious condition, he would be discharged from the Temporary Unit of the Ajusco Medio General Hospital.
Of average height with 71 years, Serafín entered with a saturation lower than 70; it was necessary to place high-flow nasal tips so that he could breathe while the SARS-CoV-2 infection subsided.
A couple of days later he began his pulmonary rehabilitation. But the battle against the consequences was just beginning because, when the emergency was over, he had to do musculoskeletal recovery exercises.
The importance of early mobilization is that we prevent the patient from deteriorating further; If I stop moving, my body begins to lose functions, it atrophies and begins to have ulcers or bone deformities for the same reason that I am not moving”, commented the therapist, Valeria Palacios, one of those in charge of the Rehabilitation Clinic. Pulmonary in this postcovid treatment unit.
On the contrary, the case of Gerardo, 54 years old, will take much longer to leave this medical center. When he entered, in August 2021, he could no longer breathe on his own. Since that day, he has been intubated five times.
“He has had a couple of events where the system has been with slight failures, so they have to intubate him again; they extubate him, he stays and then he relapses and again. To date we have worked with him on basic and ventilation activities” , explained Valeria Palacios.
Serafin in pulmonary rehabilitation therapy.
The patient’s pulmonary and cardiovascular performance is monitored on the treadmill. Photos: Wendy Roa
According to specialists, eight out of ten patients who recover from SARS-CoV-2 have sequelae such as pulmonary fibrosis, hypertension, fatigue, headache, anxiety and memory loss, among others. For this reason, the capital’s Ministry of Health (Sedesa) developed these care units after covid-19.
In the case of Ajusco Medio, there is a treadmill where the pulmonary and cardiovascular performance of patients is monitored, in addition, when the person remains in bed for long periods, they receive therapy to regain mobility.
“Pulmonary rehabilitation is vital for the reentry and reintegration of a patient into his normal life. Pulmonary physiotherapy, physical rehabilitation, adequate breathing exercises at home and in the future, is a good reintegration of a patient at home,” he said. Dr. Jesús Ortiz, director of the hospital.
Once they are discharged, patients like Serafín and Gerardo remain under medical surveillance. They are given a personalized program so that they can do their exercises at home and lead a “normal” life, in addition to having to attend their appointments every month to assess their progress.
Sedesa’s comprehensive post-covid care strategy is offered in 12 general hospitals, nine pediatric hospitals, two maternal and child hospitals, and the Emiliano Zapata hospital clinic, and consists of the care of physiotherapists, nutritionists, and psychologists, among other specialists.
Since 2020, when the program was created, 19,000 people have been served.
“The response in terms of mental health has also been strengthened, the Addiction Care and Prevention Units are being transformed into mental health care units, including addiction care and prevention, so there is an aspect of strengthening these services” , explained the head of the unit, Oliva López.