Young stroke patient hospitalized since the start of pandemic leaves rehab unit

GLEN COVE, Long Island (WABC) -- A 22-year-old woman from Cambria Heights who has been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic and unable to be physically near her family finally got to see them on Thursday as she was released from a rehabilitation facility.

Chynna Roberson, a student at Queensborough Community College studying Health Sciences, suffered a series of strokes last February and was hospitalized. The strokes were caused by an abnormal tangle of blood vessels in her brain. It's a rare condition called arteriovenous malformation, which is usually hidden, but present since birth.

After emerging from a six-week long coma, she was admitted to Emerge Nursing and Rehabilitation in Glen Cove for extensive rehabilitation. Roberson couldn't talk, walk or eat on her own.

"With COVID it's been really hard not being able to see her, hug her, not being able to go inside, speaking through glass," said Ajee Roberson, Roberson's sister.

"It's the hardest thing I've ever endured," said Roberson's mother, Crystal Roberson.

Because Roberson was unable to be around her family members, nurses and staff at Emerge became a sort of family unit for Roberson, pushing her along in her therapy.

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"Chynna overcame many milestones daily, weekly with the help of the nursing staff because we treated her as if she was our family," said Lisa Austin, the facility's Director of Nursing.

Erika Weber, the facility's Administrator, said Roberson was one of the youngest patients they've had.

"A lot of the staff took her on as their daughter, as their granddaughter," she said.

Roberson's family communicated with Roberson through FaceTime and through visits at the facility windows.

"With COVID everything has been over-the-top difficult," said Jerome Roberson, Roberson's father.

Chynna Roberson was released from Emerge on Thursday morning. She was able to walk out of the facility assisted by nurses.

"She's on the road to recovery because she had extensive rehab," said the facility's Administrative Manager of Neurological Rehabilitation Services Wendell Miller.

Roberson will continue with outpatient therapy for years. She is still is unable to walk on her own and is unable to talk. She uses a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to communicate.

When Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne asked her if she was excited to go home and be with her family, she gave a strong thumbs-up.

Roberson's family is grateful to the nursing staff at Emerge.

"There was a time when we weren't sure exactly what she would be able to do or how things were going to go and now there's a lot more hope," said Ajee Roberson.

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