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Burke Rehabilitation Hospital combats patient isolation

Healthcare providers have faced stringent visitor restrictions in the past months due to the risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, this has meant patients are also experiencing greater social isolation. Being unable to see family and loved ones for prolonged periods can be traumatic. Studies show that isolation can negatively impact health outcomes and patient satisfaction. During the pandemic, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital’s (a member of the Montefiore Health System) recreational therapy department has been working diligently to combat the anxiety, stress and depression associated with isolation.

Burke’s recreational therapy department developed creative ways to virtually engage patients. For example, they created a series of videos showcasing Burke’s beautiful 61-acre campus in the springtime and recorded guided meditation videos. They also produced a virtual employee talent show, featuring Burke staff members singing, playing music and other fun activities to provide entertainment to their patients from familiar faces.

The recreational therapy department is facilitating virtual pet therapy through the use of iPads, in partnership with The Good Dog Foundation. Patients can discuss their own experiences with beloved pets with dog owner Julie and watch her and her dog Sammy perform tricks and learn new skills.

All of these virtual activities have lifted patients’ spirits and improved their mood, causing them to become more talkative and interact with staff and fellow patients. The staff providing these services have seen high engagement and positivity radiating from these patients.

For more information, contact Eileen Andreassi, MA, CTRS, director, recreational therapy and adaptive sports, at (914) 597-2248 or eandreassi@burke.org.