COVID Long-Term Effects & Care

Getting past COVID-19 for ‘long-haulers’ proves challenging; Norton Healthcare offers support with Long-Term COVID Care Clinic

Joseph M. Flynn, DO, MPH, FACP, chief administrative officer, Norton Medical Group, and physician-in-chief, Norton Cancer Institute.

LOUISVILLE Norton Healthcare launched an outpatient COVID-19 long-term care clinic for adult and pediatric patients who continue to experience side effects after having battled the coronavirus, also referred to as “long-haulers” of the virus.

“Norton Healthcare has been a regional leader in caring for patients with COVID-19. From innovative treatments and clinical trials to community-based testing, we have been at the forefront of this pandemic,” said Russell F. Cox, president and CEO, Norton Healthcare. “Research from around the world indicates a need for post-COVID care, and Kentucky and Southern Indiana are no different.”

“Our COVID-19 long-term care clinics consist of a team of multidisciplinary adult and pediatric specialists to address patients’ ongoing health needs, which can range from lung and heart to neurologic and gastrointestinal issues,” said Joseph M. Flynn, DO, MPH, FACP, chief administrative officer, Norton Medical Group, and physician-in-chief, Norton Cancer Institute.

These providers will evaluate patients’ ongoing symptoms and work with specialists to develop treatment plans and monitor progress. These patients are no longer positive with the virus; however, they continue to fight with symptoms weeks and months after testing positive.

“Data shows that up to 87% of adult COVID-19 survivors have chronic lung issues, and 20% have long-term heart conditions, among other neurological, vascular, and renal medical issues,” Flynn said. “We support these patients by connecting them with the right team of specialists who can provide ongoing treatment and follow-up care in one convenient location.”

Since opening in September 2020, the adult clinic has seen more than 100 patients. Though each person’s case is unique, many of the lingering side effects include headaches, fatigue, “brain fog,” or a feeling of not thinking clearly, and the ongoing loss of taste and/or smell. Consistent with studies from around the world, most of the patients who are fighting the long-term side effects are female.

The pediatric clinic began seeing patients in January 2021. There is little data yet on the long-term effects of COVID-19 on children. In most children, COVID-19 is mild and they fully recover without the need for ongoing treatment. For some, symptoms, including fatigue, body aches, headache, and loss of smell and taste, may last for months after the virus.

For more information or to refer a patient to the clinic, Adult: Long-Term COVID-19 Care Clinic at 502.861.4488. Pediatric: Norton Children’s Infectious Diseases COVID-19 Follow-up Clinic at 502.629.1234, option 3.