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Post-COVID Multispecialty Clinic helps patients with physical & mental toll of COVID-19

Patients are treated for COVID-19 at a field hospital.
Enrique Ortiz
AFP via Getty Images
Patients are treated for COVID-19 at a field hospital.

The Post-COVID Multispecialty Clinic at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin was developed for people who need long-term care for complications related to COVID-19.

Through the clinic, patients have access to specialists that range from pulmonary, cardiology, physical rehabilitation, and psychiatry. Many patients are seeking care for things like anxiety, depression, brain fog and PTSD. Behavioral health professionals provide care to patients through the COVID Survivors Clinic.

Dr. Lawrence Miller is part of the Covid Survivors Clinic, and he shares how they’re addressing the mental health needs of those suffering from long COVID.

"How we're addressing the behavioral health needs of patients with long COVID, is understanding the impact that long COVID symptoms are having, and the effects on their mental health," says Miller.

He continues that the medical community holds meetings where medical professionals share information with each other about what they're seeing in patients.

Doctors have found that long COVID patients may suffer from anxiety, depression, stress and trauma and to make sure those issues are addressed, Miller says hospitals are continuing to evaluate the needs for patients and make referrals to the COVID Survivors Clinic.

He encourages patients to talk with their primary health care providers about what they're experiencing.

"What we tried to do is help them recognize where are they at now, and what small incremental steps that they need to be able to make to improve their quality of life and their functional status and managing their symptoms," says Miller.

Mark Richards was diagnosed with COVID-19 in November of 2020 and spent eight days at the State Fair Field Hospital. The virus took a major toll on him, and even as his physical health slowly improved, Mark continued to struggle mentally.

Mark Richards
Mark Richards is a long COVID patient.

In May of 2021 he was referred to the Covid Survivors Clinic where he was diagnosed with PTSD associated with COVID and other prior traumatic events. He says while this experience has felt isolating, he knows he’s not the only one struggling and wants to help other COVID survivors work towards better emotional wellness.

"Here we are 18 months later, still dealing with a mountain of of symptoms. It is really difficult to really pinpoint what they are, what's causing them. Why isn't there relief?" says Richards.

He adds that the care he received following his COVID diagnosis wasn't satisfactory. Richard says he felt as though doctors were just treating the symptoms, following textbook solutions and not truly listening to him.

Richards says his experience with COVID, the treatment and mental struggles have changed his life.

"I was fairly healthy and strong. I worked a job where it required 12, 14 hours a day, five days a week, sometimes six. I fully intended on working until 70, and then retiring. I mean, I'm at a point now, I don't know that I'm going to make it to 70," he says.

While he continues to struggle with long COVID, Richards says his doctors at Froedtert have given him a myriad of tools to deal with his mental health.

Richards says COVID left him feeling alone, but he sees solutions.

"I think it would be beneficial if they could somehow devise a group, in a group setting of of long haul patients, much like you'd see with like Alcoholics Anonymous, or people that are going through a rough time, maybe they've survived it, and they can offer some ray of hope," says Richards.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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