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Recovery After COVID-19: Assessing the Long-Term Effects of SARS-CoV-2

Although the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still unknown, the presumed sequelae of the disease would likely resemble those of recent coronavirus-related disease outbreaks, including Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome and SARS-Co-V2.

What Does Post-COVID Care Look Like?

Reports from these diseases suggest that following infection with the novel coronavirus, many patients will experience lingering deficits in pulmonary and cognitive functioning, as well as multifaceted health issues and worsened quality of life.

From the recorded experiences of coronavirus survivors in Italy and France, it is likely that the post-COVID experience will also include the return of such familiar symptoms as fever, fatigue and breathlessness, as well as more severe sequelae, including impairment of renal and cardiovascular function, ongoing hypercoagulability, myalgia, depression, and other persistent physical and psychological effects.

Post-COVID Recovery Clinic at Penn Medicine 

In the months since the first COVID-19 patient in the Philadelphia region appeared at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the prolonged effects of COVID -19 have become familiar to the faculty at Penn Clinical Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R).

“We’ve come to realize that COVID-19 recovery doesn’t end as soon as someone is stable and leaves the hospital,” says  Benjamin Abramoff, MD, MS. “A wide range of medical issues can persist and impair function and overall quality of life in these patients.”

To address issues as they emerge, Penn Medicine has created the Post-COVID Recovery Clinic to provide multidisciplinary assessment and resources for patients recovering from COVID-19.

Given the novelty of the disease, the exact nature of ongoing deficits is uncertain, and needs to be established and tracked over time. Penn's clinic will also serve to create a registry to accurately track important clinical patient data for a disease about which little is known.

Among the Center’s principal objectives for post-COVID patients re-entering the community is to ensure continuity of care, a known critical factor in the prevention of mortality and morbidity in long-term disease.

In addition to Dr. Abramoff, the Penn faculty at the Post-COVID Recovery Clinic includes fellow rehabilitation specialist Franklin Caldera, DO, and pulmonologist Robert M. Kotloff, MD, and a number of other colleagues specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. 

Post-COVID Recovery Assessment Process

On entry, patients are evaluated to determine their personal, health and rehabilitation needs. Patients can expect an initial one-hour virtual visit via telemedicine to begin this screening.

Our screening methods include:

  • Medication reconciliation
  • Rehabilitation Needs Screen: Bowel, bladder, pain, ADL/iADL performance, cognition, equipment needs, mobility, sleep, skin
  • Pulmonary Functioning Screen
  • Criteria established to automatically refer back to Pulmonary
  • Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA)
  • Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS)
  • Impact of Event Scale-6 (IES-6)
  • General Health Slider
  • Will be logged in redcap to allow for future research efforts

Upon completion of assessment, the patient's individual clinical needs will be identified. Penn Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation will recommend and/or provide rehab management, and triage patients to specialist colleagues as needed.

Every phase of care is communicated to, and coordinated with, the patient’s primary care provider and caregivers. 

Is My Patient a Candidate for Post-COVID Recovery Assessment? 

The Penn Post-COVID Recovery Clinic is open to all patients post-COVID. Referrals are welcome for all patients who have recovered from COVID and are experiencing lingering health issues including, but not limited to, these frequently reported issues:

  • Autonomic function: Pain, Hypercoagulability
  • Poor endurance
  • Impaired renal function
  • CI Myopathy/Polyneuropathy
  • Residual pulmonary manifestations
  • Psychological issues: PTSD, Insomnia, Cognitive impairment
  • Myocardial Injury
  • Progression of chronic issues

For More Information

  • Download the Post-COVID Assessment and Recovery information sheet.
  • Questions? Please call Nadia Miles at 215-893-2668.

In addition to virtual visits via telemedicine, the Post-COVID Recovery Clinic has three locations across the Philadelphia region: Penn Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine at Penn Medicine Rittenhouse, Penn Medicine Cherry Hill and Penn Medicine Radnor.

About this Blog

The Penn Physician Blog is a resource for health care professionals featuring Penn Medicine physicians and their research, innovations, programs and events. 

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