WellSpan Health announces today a new option for patients struggling with COVID-19 “long-haul” symptoms; opening WellSpan COVID Care, a virtual, multidisciplinary program.
“We want to provide a coordinated approach that will help us understand and provide effective treatment for these patients who are experiencing persistent effects of COVID-19,” said Dr. Luminita Tudor, pulmonary and sleep medicine physician with WellSpan Health.
Physicians at WellSpan Health and around the country are finding that some patients who have had COVID-19 are still struggling with a bewildering array of symptoms, including problems concentrating, persistent headaches, a continued loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue, and heart palpitations. These patients are often referred to as “COVID long-haulers” or sufferers of “long COVID,”
In response to the lingering care needs, the WellSpan COVID Care program brings together a team of WellSpan providers from specialties including pulmonary medicine, neurology, physiatry, cardiology, and behavioral health, as well as a variety of rehabilitation services.
“The team will work together to develop the best standards of care,” said Tudor. “We want to provide a coordinated approach that will help us understand and provide effective treatment for these patients who are experiencing persistent effects of COVID-19.”
The science is still evolving on long-hauler COVID patients, Tudor said. Overall, long COVID can affect patients of all ages, including young people who were previously healthy. Also, patients who were never hospitalized or initially only had mild COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes experience new or worsening symptoms weeks or months after they first became ill. More studies are needed about what causes the lingering symptoms, but some theories suggest a persistent inflammatory or autoimmune response.
“This team will become the COVID experts at WellSpan so we can be more knowledgeable and have standard screening and surveillance, and better help these patients,” said Brenna Simcoe, program director.
Most of the care will be delivered virtually, utilizing video visits, but patients also may receive in-person care at the program’s office located at 2350 Freedom Way, York.
Patients can be referred to the program by their primary care physician or seek out care on their own if they are still experiencing COVID symptoms six to eight weeks after their diagnosis.
To schedule an appointment or for more information, self-referring patients may call 717-851-1543 or visit www.WellSpan.org/COVIDCare.