Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant motor, cognitive, psychological, neurological and cardiological disabilities in many infected patients. Functional rehabilitation of infectious COVID-19 patients has been implemented in the acute care wards and in appropriate, ad hoc, multidisciplinary COVID-19 rehabilitation units. However, because COVID-19 rehabilitation units are a clinical novelty, clinical and organizational benchmarks are not yet available. The aim of this study is to describe the organizational needs and operational costs of such a unit, by comparing its activity, organization, and costs with 2 other functional rehabilitation units, in San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy.
Methods: The 2-month activity of the COVID-19 Rehabilitation Unit at San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy, which was created in response to the emergency need for rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients, was compared with the previous year's activity of the Cardiac Rehabilitation and Motor Rehabilitation Units of the same institute.
Results: The COVID-19 Rehabilitation Unit had the same number of care beds as the other units, but required twice the amount of staff and instrumental equipment, leading to a deficit in costs.
Discussion: The COVID-19 Rehabilitation Unit was twice as expensive as the 2 other units studied. World health systems are organizing to respond to the pandemic by expanding capacity in acute intensive care and sub-intensive care units. This study shows that COVID-19 rehabilitation units must be organized and equiped according to the clinical and rehabilitative needs of patients, following specific measures to prevent the spread of infection amongs patients and workers.
Keywords: COVID-19; clinical organization; pandemic; rehabilitation.