When COVID-19 began around the world last year, the goal of the health care community was to help people survive. Now, a new Post-COVID Recovery Program at Main Line Health is aimed at helping these survivors thrive.
It's estimated that at least 10 percent of people who were infected with COVID-19 will be "long-haulers," a term used to describe patients with lingering physical, cognitive and psychological symptoms. Employees at Main Line Health with such symptoms were a part of the inspiration for creating this new program that opened in May and is for people with long-term COVID effects—those who are still having symptoms 30 days after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
"Many of our patients have experienced the frustration of being told that it's unclear as to why they are still feeling poorly. Many have been struggling for months looking for answers," says Clare Small-McEvoy, PT, DPT, director of therapy services, Main Line Health.
Long-term COVID effects benefit from coordinated care
One of the strengths of the program is its multidisciplinary approach. The symptoms of long-hauler syndrome are varied and require a team approach to address and manage them. Patients with long-term COVID effects experience everything from fatigue and difficulty breathing to brain fog, skin disorders and anxiety, to name just a few.
Intake for the Post-COVID Recovery Program is managed by Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital. There's one number to call to arrange care. A nurse case manager, together with a nurse practitioner, helps triage patients to therapy services and specialists. Specialties in the program include:
- Ear, nose and throat (ENT)
- Infectious diseases
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Speech pathology
Support for long-term COVID effects meets community need
Mithra Maneyapanda, MD, medical director of the Brain Injury Program at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, is one of the doctors who helps patients with needs related to physical medicine and rehabilitation. "We're taking an individualized approach right now, but as the program continues to grow and build, we'll get more information about what recovery looks like and what types of treatments are better than others," he says.
The team meets weekly to talk about each patient's progress so they can develop a coordinated plan of care. This is especially helpful for more complicated cases.
While much is still unknown about this new disease, the team is committed to learning quickly. "The science will catch up eventually, but these patients need help now," Dr. Maneyapanda says. "The program fits the need that our community has at the time they need it."