CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland Clinic on Monday announced a clinic as the second healthcare system in northeast Ohio to help patients with persistent COVID-19 symptoms that have persisted long after the first sign of infection.
The reCOVer clinic connects patients with symptoms that last longer than four weeks with specialists from 18 different health care sectors and other resources, the clinic said in a press release. These patients, commonly referred to as “long-distance drivers”, have a diagnosis known as long-term COVID or Post-Acute Episodes of COVID-19 (PASC).
MetroHealth has opened a similar post-COVID clinic Assisting patients with persistent symptoms.
At the start of the pandemic, medical experts were unaware that some COVID-19 patients could experience symptoms. But a study published in the medical journal The Lancet found that more than three-quarters of coronavirus patients treated in a Chinese hospital had persistent symptoms six months later.
Experts are still working on other studies to determine how many COVID-19 patients have symptoms that don’t get better, said Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious disease expert who runs the reCOVer clinic.
“We know, however, that patients with persistent COVID-19 symptoms are not necessarily those who were initially hospitalized with severe cases,” Englund said in the press release. “Many patients had fairly mild infections, but symptoms lasted for more than four weeks or they may worsen over time.”
“Long distance riders” have reported a range of symptoms, including tiredness, shortness of breath, or coughing. Health experts have found that they can also develop neurological symptoms like brain fog, depression, and insomnia.
Cardiology specialists are involved in the reCOVer clinic. Lung care; Dermatology; Ear, nose and throat care; and neurocognition, the clinic said.
All patients undergo a series of assessments and examinations, starting with an in-depth medical history and questionnaire. You could also take heart, lung, and physical therapy tests; Blood tests; and neurocognitive and behavioral health exams. The process could take several weeks, the press release said.
The patient will then meet with reCOVer clinic providers to discuss the results and develop a customized health plan for them, the press release said.
“This is a complex disease that we understand more about every day,” said Dr. William Lago, a family doctor who helped develop the reCOVer clinic. “By taking the time to conduct multidisciplinary, comprehensive assessments, we believe we can best work with our patients to create treatment plans and put them on a path to wellbeing.”
The reCOVer Clinic is located in the Independence Family Health Center of the Cleveland Clinic. However, some patients are cared for via telemedicine. Patients are currently being treated by referral, but the clinic plans to expand it to all long-term COVID patients at some point in the future.