Working Together News

Center Helps Patients Transition from Survival to Recovery

Leaving the intensive care unit after a serious illness is a hopeful time for patients and loved ones eager to return to their lives.

But it also can pose challenges. The Critical Illness Recovery Center at National Jewish Health is committed to treating these issues, helping patients recover faster and more fully.
After a critical illness, about 50 percent of patients experience post-intensive care syndrome (PICS). These physical, mental and emotional symptoms may present shortly after leaving the hospital or over time and may include:
  • Muscle weakness and balance problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of lean muscle mass
  • Problems with thinking and memory
  • Insomnia and other sleep issues
  • Severe anxiety and depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
Critical illness affects the whole family, both during and after treatment. Up to 30 percent of family members may experience symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

“For many patients, leaving the hospital is just the beginning of their recovery,” said Howard Saft, MD, a critical care physician who treats patients at the Critical Illness Recovery Center. “The Center provides specialized care for patients based on the unique needs related to their critical illness. Patients often do not want to discuss these underreported issues. Identifying and treating those needs as soon as possible helps patients get well faster while incorporating the latest treatment to optimize recovery.

"It's great to have the Center right here on the National Jewish Health campus. It's a nice complement to the acute care services that Saint Joseph Hospital provides," Dr. Saft said. "We recognize the difficulties that patients and their families have following a critical illness. The Center provides an interdisciplinary patient and family experience where their needs can be identified in one visit. Our goal is to complement patients' existing care teams while maintaining open lines of communication."

Navigate the Recovery Journey with Expert Guidance, Specialized Care

Every person’s recovery is different. In one visit to the Critical Illness Recovery Center, patients can learn if they or a loved one has symptoms that require attention. A follow-up visit can also prevent future problems from occurring and provide patients with medication and treatment options.
In partnership with a patient's primary care physicians, the Center offers coordinated, personalized care from an experienced interdisciplinary team:

  • Critical care physicians
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Dieticians
  • Social workers
  • Neurologists
  • Psychologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Sleep and insomnia specialists
The Center is a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s Thrive Initiative, an international network of clinics that seeks to improve patient and family support after critical illness.


Learn More

If you are a physician who would like to learn more about partnering with the Center, please call 303.398.1867.

For more information, please visit