UAB launches program to help patients with lingering COVID-19 symptoms

UAB launches program to help patients with lingering COVID-19 symptoms

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WSFA) - UAB Medicine has launched a new program to help guide patients who are still experiencing COVID-19 symptoms more than three weeks after a positive test, and link them to the appropriate specialized care they need.

The Post COVID Treatment Program is designed to help patients receive proper follow-up care in the weeks and months after their recovery process and will be open to all who need further medical evaluation related to COVID-19 symptoms.

“This is a formal approach that really allows the patient to be heard and for us to get them to the right point of care,” said Donna Dye, RSN and director of ambulatory services for UAB Medicine. “We want to be considerate, compassionate, and attentive to their needs and this gives us that platform to really focus on the individual and make sure they have what they need through their recovery process.”

Doctors at UAB said they are seeing a small but considerable amount of virus-free patients experiencing different post-COVID symptoms, ranging from neurological to auto-immune, cardiac to lung health.

“There is a small but not insubstantial number of people who, weeks to months out from their COVID diagnosis are having residual symptoms from COVID,” said Turner Overton, MD, professor of medicine at UAB and medical director of the Post COVID Treatment Program. “While pulmonary symptoms are the most prominent, we also see people with cardiac symptoms, neurological symptoms, psychiatric symptoms, (and) symptoms related to speech.”

“The good news is that it is a minority of people, less than 10%, but when you look at the numbers of patients in the state, we are approaching 250,000 people with COVID so you are still talking about 20,000 Alabamians who are going to potentially have post-COVID symptoms,” Overton went on to say.

In an effort to evaluate these patients and meet their medical needs, UAB’s Post COVID Treatment Program will ­use an algorithm to direct patients to experts based on their symptoms.

Patients can make an appointment in the program through three avenues:

Self-referral

  • A patient can make an appointment for themselves by calling the UAB COVID-19 Call Center at 205-975-1881.

Physician referral

  • Both UAB physicians and community physicians can refer patients to the Post COVID Treatment Program.

UAB outreach

  • The Post COVID Treatment Program will have a dedicated clinical care coordinator who will reach out to patients discharged from UAB four to six weeks after their diagnosis/care to assess their symptoms and care needs.

Patients should contact the Post COVID Treatment Program team if they meet all of these criteria:

  • Have received a COVID-19 positive test result
  • It has been three-four weeks since the positive test result was received
  • Still experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • To make an appointment, call 205-975-1881.

Patients may see UAB providers from a number of areas depending on their symptoms, including but not limited to the departments of psychiatry and neurology, and divisions of cardiovascular disease, clinical immunology and rheumatology, infectious diseases, and pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine.

The Post COVID Treatment Program will not be housed in a brick-and-mortar clinic. Rather, patients will be directed to the appropriate specialty and be seen in that area’s clinic for further evaluation.

“We want patients to know that we are here for them during their recovery process and that we are committed to meeting their care needs,” said Donna Dye, MSN, director of Ambulatory Services at UAB Medicine. “We are learning more and more in real time about COVID and the persistent symptoms it may cause. We are confident that the specialized expertise that UAB offers will help patients in their recovery process.”

For more information, please visit www.uabmedicine.org/coronavirus. For those who believe they are a candidate, call 205-975-1881.

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