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Michigan Medicine opens COVID-19 long haul clinics for adult, pediatric patients

Pediatric specialists at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. (Michigan Medicine)

ANN ARBOR – Michigan Medicine announced it is establishing clinics to provide care for patients experiencing post-COVID symptoms and complications, known as “long-haulers.”

These are adult and pediatric patients that continue to experience multi-organ long-term issues including cardiovascular, kidney, metabolic, mood, pulmonary and neurologic complications.

Recently, data has revealed that patients who only experienced mild COVID-19 cases still have a high risk of developing lasting complications.

More than 1,500 adults have been hospitalized at Michigan Medicine with severe COVID-19 -- and more than 60 percent of them have diabetes. Doctors at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital have also reported more than a dozen cases of persistent COVID symptoms in kids and teens, including fatigue and respiratory issues months after experiencing even a mild case of the novel virus.

“There is an urgent need to better understand the long-term complications of COVID-19 and provide specialized care for high-risk groups of patients’,” Michigan Medicine endocrinologist Rodica Pop-Busui and director of the adult clinic said in a release.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us, and of course those infected by the virus. Data suggests that 10-20% of those previously infected and over the acute phase of the infection have lingering symptoms that could be organ-based damage or a syndrome called post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC),” chair of the department of Internal Medicine John M. Carethers said in a release.

“Dr. Busui has led assembling an outstanding multidisciplinary team of experts that cross multiple medical disciplines to create a one-stop evaluation and treatment approach clinic for patients afflicted with PASC.”

Adult clinic

Formally named the Multidisciplinary Post COVID-19 Clinic, the adult clinic is located at Domino’s Farms and operates a blended in-person and virtual care model.

The Domino’s Farms clinic is at 4000 Ave Maria Dr. Lobby C, Suite 1300.

According to Michigan Medicine, eligible clinic patients must:

  • Be 18 years and older with a history of lab-confirmed COVID-19.
  • Be referred by a primary care provider or inpatient provider at discharge.
  • Have a comorbid diabetes, prediabetes, obesity, thyroid or adrenal diagnosis with continuation of symptoms post COVID-19, including fatigue, shortness of breath, joints and muscles pain, weakness, dizziness, chest pain and memory problems.

“While our goal is to offer our clinic services to all patients hospitalized with COVID-19, we’re initially targeting patients with diabetes or obesity given their high-risk status and the significant disturbances in blood glucose attributed to COVID-19,” Pop-Busui said in a release.

First visits will include consultations with physical medicine, endocrinology, rehabilitation and neuropsychology. Personalized referrals for other virtual specialties like cardiology, pulmonary or infectious disease medicine will be consulted as needed. Social workers will be onsite providing patient support as well as certified diabetes educators.

Patients are also invited to participate in ongoing Michigan Medicine research on COVID long-haulers.

“At Michigan Medicine, we aim to not only diagnose and better the patient, but to continually learn from patients with PASC so that we can apply that knowledge to future patients, and improve the care of those participating with us in clinical research and in their own clinical care,” Carethers said in a release. “We will assess, provide the best care, and learn from this unfortunate affliction to minimize its occurrence going forward.”

Pediatric clinic

Located at Mott, the pediatric Post-COVID Syndrome Clinic will provide care to children and teens experiencing long-term effects of COVID-19 or the rare but serious multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

According to Michigan Medicine, eligible clinic patients must:

  • Be under the age of 21 with a history of lab-confirmed COVID-19.
  • Be referred by a primary care provider.
  • Have a continuation of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pain, chest pain, and cough that persist for more than two months (60 days) post COVID-19.
  • Have no other exposures or explanations for the new or worsening symptoms.

“We’ve seen many children who have breathing issues and other lingering symptoms long after an initial infection,” Mott pediatric pulmonologist who leads the Mott post-COVID clinic, Carey Lumeng, said in a release. “Most of these initial infections were mild and didn’t require hospitalization or even outpatient care.

“Our goal is to better understand this phenomenon in young people and ensure that patients see the right group of specialists to address their specific symptoms.”

Pediatric subspecialists will coordinate with each patient’s primary care provider to provide follow-up care. The first visit may take place in person or virtually to assess the need for coordinated care, symptoms and the need for more testing. Experts in pediatric cardiology, pediatric psychology, pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation and pediatric pulmonology will review each case and develop a treatment plan.

Like the adult clinic, visits will be either in-person or virtual and there will be an option to participate in studies of long-term effects in children who have had COVID-19.

To learn more or to make an appointment at the adult clinic, visit michmed.org/postCOVIDclinic.

To learn more or to make an appointment at the pediatric clinic, visit mottchildren.org/postCOVIDclinic.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.