COVID-19 patients who have experienced symptoms for more than a month can now receive comprehensive, coordinated care at Oregon Health & Science University.
The Long COVID-19 Program has officially launched at OHSU, with some patients having their first appointments with the program’s providers last week. The program is specifically designed for the so-called long-haulers, an estimated 10% to 30% of coronavirus patients who continue to have fatigue, trouble breathing, heart palpitations and other symptoms months after their initial illness.
“Our patient-centered Long COVID-19 Program offers a compassionate medical home base for patients who have had a myriad of debilitating symptoms for months,” said the program’s lead physician, Eric Herman, M.D., who is also OHSU’s chief primary care and population health officer and an assistant professor of family medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine.
“I understand long COVID patients have been through a lot and simply want to feel like themselves again,” Herman said. “Although experts are learning more about COVID-19 every day and we may not be able to address everything at once, OHSU Long COVID-19 Program providers are available to work side by side with patients and find the best possible health care solution for each unique situation.”
OHSU has cared for many patients with chronic coronavirus-related symptoms in the past year. The new program enables coordinated care by OHSU adult and pediatric providers with a variety of specialties and ensures the use of well-studied, effective treatments.
Each participating patient’s unique needs are first assessed through an initial intake appointment. The long COVID-19 team will develop a care plan that will be shared with, and managed by, the patient’s primary care provider. Patients may also be referred to specialists to address specific coronavirus-related symptoms and conditions.
The program serves both adults and children, although current data indicates adults are more likely to experience long COVID-19. The program’s clinic at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital is overseeing all pediatric patient care, while adult patients receive care from OHSU’s adult hospital and clinics.
Providers involved in the program specialize in pulmonology, cardiology, neurology, primary care and physical rehabilitation, among other areas. Program providers meet monthly to discuss program operations and touch base frequently on individual patient cases as needed.
The program is initially serving existing OHSU patients. By late spring, the program aims to expand by also serving patients from throughout the broader OHSU Health system, which includes Hillsboro Medical Center and Adventist Health Portland. Eventually, the program plans to be able to serve any long COVID patient in Oregon.
This approach to long COVID-19 care was developed by a team of OHSU providers over the past several months. The program was shaped by input from local patients as well lessons learned at other hospitals across the country that have established similar efforts.
OHSU is also developing a virtual continuing medical education course to share best long COVID-19 care practices with providers who work outside of OHSU. OHSU hopes to have the online course ready for use sometime this spring.
People with questions about COVID-19 should contact their provider.