Lessons Learned from Implementing Rehabilitation at a COVID-19 Field Hospital

Kevin H. McLaughlin, Lauren Simon, Michael Friedman, Zishan K. Siddiqui, James R. Ficke, Melinda E. Kantsiper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rehabilitation experts play an important role in preventing hospital-acquired debility, increasing patients' abilities to safely perform activities of daily living, and facilitating discharge to the home setting for patients with COVID-19. Surges in COVID-19 hospitalization rates combined with increases in length of hospital stay and decreases in postacute care placements have necessitated the opening of COVID-19 field hospitals around the country. Most field hospitals lack the resources to offer a full suite of rehabilitation services, but there are opportunities for small teams of rehabilitation experts to increase their reach by using innovative strategies. This article describes the implementation of a small team of rehabilitation experts in a COVID-19 field hospital and strategies used by this team to maximize patient activity and mobility, facilitate timely discharge, and maximize the number of patients discharged to the home setting. Strategies include training nonclinical staff to assist with activity and mobility promotion and using a rehabilitation triage system to determine needs of individual patients and facilitate efficient resource utilization. The authors reflect on successful aspects of these strategies, as well as barriers to rehabilitation implementation, and make recommendations for other field hospitals seeking to implement rehabilitation during the COVID-19 pandemic or future health crises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1030
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Health Services
  • Mobile Health Units
  • Pandemic
  • Public Health
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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