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Muncie hospital’s support group seeks to help in COVID-19 recovery

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — Many Hoosiers deal with a rarely discussed part of COVID-19, the challenges patients deal with after being released from the ICU.

As a result, one Indiana hospital launched a program to help outpatients and their families cope together.

After a month in ICU of July 2020, John Losure at age 62 finally woke up from a coma.

“I had a clasped lung, a chest tube, a pick, and they fed me through my nose. My thoughts and everything was trying to come back to me. (Then) I began to look at my body, and I was amazed my arms were so small,” Losure said.

John would spend 50 days in ICU on a ventilator and a feeding tube. Once released from the hospital, he needed long-term care to regain strength.

“I went home without walking. I couldn’t walk,” Losure said.

ICU patients can take years to recover from Post-intensive Care Syndrome, defined as health problems that remain after a critical illness.

“I still have lung issues. I have scarring,” Losure said.

IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital offers a support group for ICU survivors.

“We are getting a lot of patients that are post-COVID because of just how many patients with COVID are ending up in our ICUs. A lot of what they are experiencing is no different than a patient three or four years ago that would have sepsis phenomena, that would come in and have to be on a ventilator for two weeks,” said Amanda Luper, an IU Health occupational therapist.

But, she added, “It is the same ICU-required weakness, the same delirium, same long-term cognitive deficits. We are just seeing more of it because, unfortunately, this fire has landed a lot more people in critical care.”

John and his wife, Cathy, of 45 years attend group sessions at Ball Memorial to open up about their experiences.

Cathy told News 8 that COVID-19 forced her and her husband to adjust to a new way of living. In addition, she had to retire to help take care of her husband.

The group sessions allow them to relate to others and not feel alone. “It’s good to know there are other caretakers that are going through the same things,” Cathy said.

Together, the couple is thankful for the service and encourages others to join their community. “Someone might say something at one of the meetings that registers with you,” John said.

The support group meets every the third Tuesday monthly in the outpatient medical pavilion at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. The next meeting is set to go from 6-8 p.m. March 15, and virtual option is under development. Anyone interested can email