University of Kansas Health System creates 'long hauler' virtual clinic

KU Health System
Posted at 5:42 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 18:42:27-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Some people who contract COVID-19 experience lingering symptoms. Now, The University of Kansas Health System has created a new virtual clinic that is giving "long haulers" hope.

"It's so hard to get anyone to take you seriously and to listen," Amanda Finley, a COVID-19 longer hauler, said. "I've lost friends over this. Where they say, 'You are not still sick with COVID.' Well, except here I am."

Long after she initially got the virus, Finley is still dealing with symptoms.

"I am actually wearing a heart monitor right now," she said. "I have it for a couple of weeks. I have had some tachycardia, like an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, chest pain."

Finley said she began to feel hopeless, but KU Health System's new clinic is specifically designed for patients like her.

The University of Kansas Hospital is bringing specialists from several areas to serve as a team for each patient.

Doctors of cardiology, internal medicine, family medicine, neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychology, pulmonology and social work will collaborate on treatment plans. They will assess all of the patient's needs and help ensure all doctors are all on the same page.

"It's definitely very important, because we will funnel all the data that we have, all the imaging tests that we do, like cardiac MRI or CT scans, the blood tests and also to get the different perspectives from different doctors like the infectious disease perspective, the pulmonary a doctor's perspective and the cardiology doctor's perspective," Dr. Mohamed El Khashab, a cardiologist at The University of Kansas Health System, said. "So, I think it will be very important to collect this new data and follow this patients longitudinally."

This clinic is virtual, not a physical place, but doctors said that will not impact care.

A hospital spokesperson said there will be a nurse navigator to take incoming calls from primary care physicians, who are making referrals from patients. The clinic is centered on people who continue to experience symptoms after three months or more.

Other patients will need a referral to a specialist.

For Finely, she said this clinic is exactly what she needs to get better.

"We need better communication and need to have more conglomeration or continuation of patient care," she said. "When you have a COVID clinic, it's all in one place."

The clinic is only available for patients i nthe KU Health System right now and is still in it's early stages, but a hospital spokesperson said they hope to open it for the wider public soon.