In response to the large number of COVID-19 patients suffering from lingering health issues long after they recover from the virus, Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem has opened a multidisciplinary clinic at its Pulmonary Institute to monitor and assess their physical and psychological symptoms.
COVID-19 can affect much of the body. It can cause breathlessness, prolonged coughing, blood clots, problems in the digestive system and such neurological symptoms as loss of sense of taste and smell, sleep disturbances, and memory and concentration issues. It can also result in weakness and fatigue, hair loss, joint and muscle pain, mood disorders and more.
As Prof. Neville Berkman, head of Hadassah's Adult Invasive Pulmonology Unit, relates, "COVID-19 is a new illness. When the pandemic first erupted less than a year ago, we knew nothing about it. Over time, we've gained more knowledge about the virus and its long-term consequences." As he explains, "We've already identified numerous ramifications, some of which are serious and last for weeks or months after a patient has recovered. These long-lasting symptoms are mainly, but not entirely, more common in those who were more acutely sick and required hospitalization."
Prof. Berkman notes also, "We recognize the importance of patient management by physicians from different specialties under one roof. That's why our clinic provides multidisciplinary treatment, tailored to a patient's condition, involving gastroenterology, psychiatry, rehabilitation, neurology and more."
When patients arrive, they are assessed by a pulmonologist and referred to experts according to the severity of their symptoms and needs. Tomer, age 42, for example, had COVID-19 four months ago. He visited the clinic because his loss of taste and smell persisted.
"I learned about the clinic from a friend," Tomer says. "I heard the virus can cause neurological damage and even heart problems, so I decided to see specialists who can perform a general assessment and tell me if I need treatment."
Following a comprehensive examination at Hadassah, Tomer was told that the persistence of his symptoms was not unusual and that they would probably pass with time. He was reassured to learn that the examination did not reveal any other residual problems.
"I strongly recommend that anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 be checked out at Hadassah," Tomer says. "The team is very thorough and will determine whether you need to be treated further and how."
Prof. Neville Berkman talks more about this new clinic and his work on the newest episode of Hadassah On Call podcast.