UC Health launched Greater Cincinnati’s first clinic dedicated to providing subspecialized care to COVID-19 patients with lingering symptoms, often referred to as “COVID-19 long-haulers or long-COVID.” Because chronic symptoms vary widely in patients who have had COVID-19, the National Institutes of Health has proposed a unifying name for the condition: post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection or PASC.
UC Health’s clinic provides a team of multidisciplinary specialists and subspecialists to help patients who have been diagnosed with PASC and referred to UC Health by their primary care physicians.
“COVID-19 is not done with us, and we are not done with COVID-19,” said Charles Hattemer, MD, chief of Cardiovascular Health and Disease, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and a UC Health physician. “The UC Health Post-COVID-19 Clinic is for patients recovering from significant, lingering conditions of COVID-19 infection. The associated symptoms can be as varied as persistent shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, impaired stamina, chest pain, palpitations, dizzy spells, exercise intolerance, wide-swings in blood pressure or impaired concentration,” Hattemer said. “If a patient demonstrates symptoms like this 20 days or more after a COVID-19 infection, his or her primary care physician may consider an evaluation to determine if the patient may need specialized care at our clinic.”
After a patient is diagnosed with possible PASC and referred by their primary care provider, an initial consultation is held with a UC Health cardiologist or pulmonologist via telehealth. UC Health specialists will frequently initiate a panel of simple tests to better understand the patient’s condition. The tests will be followed by a face-to-face clinic visit on UC Health’s Clifton Campus with a subspecialist best suited to each patient’s unique condition.
The UC Health Post-COVID-19 Clinic includes subspecialists in cardiology, pulmonology, neurology, rheumatology, psychology and dermatology. The Post-COVID-19 Clinic is led by Richard C. Becker, MD, director of the UC Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the UC College of Medicine, and a UC Health physician; and Rachel Foot, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the UC College of Medicine and a UC Health physician.
“In addition to providing a consolidated clinic where we have the resources to provide cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation, physical therapy and subspeciality care, we also are conducting research into PASC,” Becker said. “As the region’s academic health system, we are uniquely positioned to conduct such research, and what we learn is translated to the patient and the care that is provided to them.”