Media Contacts

Doug Dollemore

Senior Science Writer, University of Utah Health
Email: doug.dollemore@hsc.utah.edu

Jun 03, 2021 8:30 AM

nurse with COVID-19 patient
University of Utah Health opened a post-COVID care clinic on June 1. The clinic will offer medical services to self-described COVID-19 “Long Haulers” in the Mountain West. Photo credit: Getty Images

For appointments and additional information, phone: 801-213-0884.

In an effort to provide more comprehensive and coordinated care for COVID-19 patients who continue to endure lingering effects of the disease, University of Utah Health has opened a post-COVID-19 care clinic. The clinic, which began accepting appointments on June 1, will offer medical services to self-described COVID-19 “Long Haulers” in the Mountain West who have one or more symptoms that have persisted for weeks or months after initial infection.

“I’ve heard from a lot of long-hauler patients that they want care from someone who will listen to them and take them seriously,” says Jeanette Brown, M.D., PhD, the medical director of the new clinic and a pulmonologist who is an assistant professor of Internal Medicine at U of U Health. “Our goal is to address their needs in the best and most effective ways we can in an environment where precision, patient-centered care is paramount.”

In the 453 days (as of June 1) since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Utah, more than 405,000 incidences of the disease have been confirmed in the state. In most of those cases, the viral infection ran its course without lingering symptoms. But for an unfortunate few, the effects of the disease have persisted. Overall, studies show up to 30% of COVID-19 patients experience post-infection symptoms, Brown says.

These symptoms, ranging from mild to debilitating, include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Memory, concentration, or sleep problems
  • Muscle pain or headache
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Dizziness when standing
  • Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities

To address these problems, clinic patients will be evaluated by an advance practice clinician or a nurse who, in consultation with Brown, will coordinate care with physicians and practitioners in 10 specialties:

  • Dermatology
  • Cardiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Ear, Nose, & Throat (ENT)
  • Infectious Disease
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry
  • Pulmonary
  • Social work

Coordinating through a single provider will help specialists concentrate on what they can specifically do for a patient as part of an overall care plan.

“I can stay focused on their shortness of breath or other pulmonary issues, knowing that they’re going to get the cardiovascular or neurological care they might need without me having to reach out to my colleagues in those departments,” says Mary Beth Scholand, M.D., an associate professor in Pulmonary Medicine at U of U Health who will be participating in the clinic. “It’s going to allow us to be really directed and efficient, hopefully leading to better care for these long-term COVID patients.”

In addition to patient care, the clinic will also conduct research on the long-term effects of COVID-19 in hopes that it will lead to better treatments.

“Right now, treating COVID-19 and its long-term effects is like jumping out of an airplane and trying to make the parachute as you go down,” Brown says. “We still have a lot to learn about it. By gathering evidence and developing clinical pathways that are based on collaborative learning, we can funnel this knowledge into improving all aspects of long-hauler care.”

The clinic will also have educational learning collaborative sessions to help providers learn more about post COVID-19 symptoms. This will provide support for care providers as well, Brown says.

 

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In addition to Brown and Scholand, faculty and staff with key roles in the clinic include John Inadomi, M.D., Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine; Jennifer Leiser, M.D., chief of the Division of Family Medicine; Molly B. Conroy, M.D. M.PH., chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine; Kevin Shah, M.D., a cardiologist and assistant professor of Medicine; Michael Flynn, M.D., adjunct assistant professor of Internal Medicine; Peter T. Weir, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics & Executive Medical Director of Population Health; Alexandra Flis, M.D., assistant professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; Sandi Gulbransen, adjunct instructor, School of Nursing; and David Webber, Senior Director, Medical Group Operations at University of Utah Medical Group. 

University of Utah Health provides leading-edge and compassionate care for a referral area that encompasses Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, western Colorado, and much of Nevada. A hub for health sciences research and education in the region, U of U Health touts a $408 million research enterprise and trains the majority of Utah’s physicians and health care providers at its Colleges of Health, Nursing, and Pharmacy and Schools of Dentistry and Medicine. With more than 20,000 employees, the system includes 12 community clinics and five hospitals. U of U Health is recognized nationally as a transformative health care system and regionally as a provider of world-class care.

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