SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah is setting up a new clinic to help treat those dealing with the long-term effects of COVID-19. The Post COVID Clinic will be housed at the University Hospital and will connect patients, known as "COVID-19 long-haulers," with specialists to figure out treatment plans moving forward.
"We want to take these patients seriously and listen to what they have to say, and support them through their post-COVID journey as well," said Dr. Jeanette Brown, an assistant professor at the University of Utah and the medical director of the Post COVID Clinic.
The clinic will focus on two sets of patients dealing with the long-term effects of COVID-19.
"The first is patients that were sick enough initially to be hospitalized, and some of those even required ICU care," Brown added.
Brown said roughly 1,600 people were hospitalized at the University of Utah with severe cases of COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic. Those patients will be connected with specialists at the hospital's Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic.
Patients who had milder symptoms while infected, but are still dealing with long-term issues, will get connected with a "care coordinator" for primary care at the University Hospital.
"We have a way for them to see sub-specialists as needed through either e-consults or actual clinical visits," Brown said.
Treatment plans for patients will be decided on a case-by-case basis depending on the individual's symptoms.
Lisa O'Brien, a COVID-19 long-hauler and founder of the Utah COVID-19 Long Haulers Facebook group, said she is excited to get answers to questions she has been asking doctors for the past year.
"It's been a long wait for this," O'Brien said. "There are so many people that are in dire need of this program."
She added that one of the biggest struggles with her post-COVID journey has been inconsistencies in her treatment plan, which she said is a common issue amongst people in her Facebook group.
"You know, a lot of people say, 'Well, my neurologist told me to do this, but my cardiologist told me to do this,' and they are two completely different things," O'Brien added. "And so that can get a little confusing."
The clinic will allow specialists to connect and communicate with each other on what treatment plan will be best for a specific set of symptoms or needs.
"It allows us to share experiences and say, 'Hey, this worked for this patient, you know, this is a possibility that we could try,'" Brown said.
It will also provide doctors and researchers with the opportunity to learn more about post-viral disorders, like chronic fatigue syndrome and its effects on the body.
"Patients that have been affected by COVID, many of them are very altruistic and are very interested in research not only just to help them, but to help other folks who have suffered with COVID," Brown added.
Brown said the university plans to open the clinic on June 1 and will remain open for the foreseeable future.
More information on how to get involved with the University of Utah's COVID-19 research can be found here.