After the ICU

icu team

Being discharged from the ICU is a huge milestone. However, there can be challenges in adjusting back to daily life. We created the Post-ICU Recovery Clinic at UCLA to help ICU survivors navigate this recovery journey. We are here to help you.

Who We Are

We are a multidisciplinary care team dedicated to helping you on your path to recovery. Our team includes physicians, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and administrative assistants. We also work closely with pharmacists, nutritionists, neurologists, and psychotherapists both within the UCLA system and beyond. We know that each person has unique recovery needs, and with our multidisciplinary approach, we aim to individualize the care for each and every person and family.

Meet our Team:

van vleet
Joseph Van Vleet, BSRC, RRT
Advanced Respiratory Care Practitioner
Lynette DeFrancia, MA, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist
Matthew Dartt, BSRT, RCP, RRT-ACCS
Assistant Director of Respiratory Therapy
Esau Baqu, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Laura Rowe, MS, LCSW
Clinical Social Worker
Emily Schwitzer, MD
Emily Schwitzer, MD
Pulmonary & Critical Care Fellow

Patient Testimonials


“It felt good to get full complete answers. Everyone on the team was on the same page. Very professional! It makes me feel that UCLA cares for their patients’ wellbeing and recovery”

“To me it just felt PERFECT!”

“It helped give me an overall status of where I currently am in my recovery and what I need to work on”

“Me siento muy contenta con la atencion que todos aun puesto sobre mi salud”

“Keep up the GREAT WORK! You are making lives better! One visit at a time”

Press and Recognition


Additional Resources for Patients

The recovery process is different for each individual. Some patients may experience a gradual return to their previous level of health. Others may experience new health problems that require ongoing medical attention. We are here to help you understand and navigate your recovery.

Respiratory dysfunction, respiratory muscle weakness, and chronic respiratory failure:

  • Many people have trouble breathing after a hospitalization, particularly if they required a breathing tube (mechanical ventilation) in the ICU.
  • Oxygen, other respiratory support devices, certain medications (such as inhalers or nebulizers), and pulmonary rehabilitation can help relieve symptoms of breathlessness.
  • Close follow-up with a pulmonologist and a respiratory therapist can help you improve over time.

Post-intensive care syndrome (PICS):

  • PICS encompasses the various health problems that some survivors can experience after an ICU stay.
  • These can affect both the body and mind and include: ICU-acquired weakness, cognitive dysfunction, and mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety:

ICU-acquired weakness:

  • ICU-acquired weakness, or muscle weakness, is common and can lead to difficulties with walking, bathing, dressing, and eating, among others.
  • This can often improve over time, with treatment options including consultation with physical and occupational therapists, supervised exercise programs, mobility aides, and other environmental adjustments.

Cognitive dysfunction:

  • Cognitive (or brain) dysfunction includes impairments in memory and attention, as well as difficulties solving problems and working on complex tasks. This can affect whether someone can return to work.
  • Patient and family education can help with the development of strategies and coping techniques. Cognitive therapy can also help. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Anxiety, and Depression:

  • PTSD can lead to flashbacks, nightmares or other distressing memories of the event, and can cause trouble sleeping, feelings of detachment, poor concentration, and angry outbursts.
  • Symptoms of depression include fatigue, loss of interest, guilt, poor appetite, poor concentration, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Symptoms of anxiety include irritability, excessive worry, restlessness, and fatigue.
  • Treatment options are extensive for all of these and include medications and psychotherapy/counseling.

Supplementary Resources

micu team

There are many great websites with a wealth of information on ICU survivorship and post-intensive care syndrome (PICS):

  1. The Society of Critical Care Medicine's THRIVE initiative:
  2. The UK-based site ICUSteps:
  3. The Mayo Clinic:

Support groups have also been helpful for many during the recovery process:

Make a Gift:

  • Support from our community plays an essential role in our ability to provide and advance the care of ICU survivors. Our current goals include:

    • Funding a psychologist to work with our patients to ensure that they have access to high-quality mental health care.

    • Providing financial assistance to patients recovering from critical illness.

    • Increasing ICU recovery research, which is essential for improving the outcomes for future patients at UCLA and worldwide. 

    • If you would like to partner with us in this mission, please click below or see our giving page. We are grateful for your thoughtful generosity.

Contact Us

For additional information about the ICU Recovery Center at UCLA, please contact [email protected]