NHS Seacole is offering a recovery site for those who survived a Covid-19 infection
The first hospital dedicated to helping coronavirus patients to recover from the long-term effects of the disease received its first patients.
The NHS Seacole Center in Surrey opened this month at Headley Court, a former rehabilitation center for wounded soldiers.
Covid-19 patients may have tracheostomy wounds because they have a tube inserted into the trachea or need heart, lung or muscle therapy, the NHS said.
Others who have survived the virus may need psychological or social care.
Morag Ellison, 77, said the virus made her so mobile that she couldn't even roll over in bed.
"I'm looking forward to going up the stairs alone, so I'll be independent as far as I'm concerned," she said.
Morag Ellison is one of the first patients to be admitted to the center
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: "While our country is emerging from the initial peak of the coronavirus, we are now seeing a substantial new need for rehabilitation and further treatment."
He said that while patients have survived fatal complications, many will have a more lasting impact on their health.
More than 100 employees were recruited to work at the center near Leatherhead, with initial plans for 130 beds and a capacity for up to 300 if needed.
Rehabilitation support workers with Michael Kidd, 82
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS frontline team saved tens of thousands of lives and, as the battle with Covid-19 continued, the NHS Seacole would provide dedicated rehabilitation.
He said: "For some people, this can be a debilitating disease, with lasting effects.
"The new NHS Seacole Center is just the beginning, as the NHS is rapidly strengthening community support to help affected people return home to their loved ones and to total health."
Jamaica-born Mary Seacole cared for British soldiers during the Crimean War
Named after the pioneering Jamaican-born nurse Mary Seacole, who cared for British soldiers wounded during the Crimean War, the center is hosted by Epsom and St Helier NHS.
It is run by a partnership, including doctors' offices, hospitals and the Surrey County Council, while Surrey Downs Health and Care is responsible for facilities and care.
Clinical director Hilary Floyd said the virus was "cruel to many," but the NHS Seacole would provide them with a place to recover.
The chief executive of Epsom and St. Helier University University Hospital, Daniel Elkeles, said: "It is with great pride that we can provide specialized and compassionate assistance … in a center designed under the name of Seacole."