May 10, 2022 - News

How UCHealth in Colorado is treating long COVID

Illustration of a lung and brains organized in radial patterns.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

UCHealth in Aurora is one of dozens of health care systems nationwide that have opened new clinics to treat long COVID patients.

Why it matters: Up to 7% of Colorado's population is estimated to have long COVID, according to a model by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

  • That means more than 412,000 people could be living with long-term symptoms — brain fog, fatigue, mental health issues and hair loss — months after they first got sick.

How it works: Long COVID clinics take a multidisciplinary approach that cuts across medical specialties to treat the wide range of symptoms patients face.

  • At UCHealth, the post-COVID clinic brings various critical care specialists, including pulmonologists, physical therapists, psychiatrists, neurologists and more to tailor treatment plans based on each patient's symptoms.

But another key offering at long COVID clinics is actually listening to patients.

  • "We find sometimes that our patients are coming from small towns where their docs may not have seen long COVID yet," UCHealth's clinic medical director Sarah Jolley said in a statement.
  • "Being able to connect with someone who is experiencing something similar and saying, 'this is real' can be very meaningful."

What to watch: The demand for long COVID care across the country far outstrips the nation's current capacity, Axios' Chelsea Cirruzzo reports.

  • Some providers say their resources are stretched thin in the face of a mounting public health crisis.

Read Axios' Deep Dive on long COVID

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