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Saint Peter’s University Hospital establishes program to help patients recover from COVID longterm

Saint Peter’s University Hospital has announced the creation of a specialized COVID-19 Recovery Program to provide comprehensive, multi-specialty treatment for individuals who were previously diagnosed (tested positive) with COVID-19.

The program offers care to individuals who were previously treated for COVID-19 at Saint Peter’s, as well as those treated at other medical facilities, and those who tested positive and recovered at home.

The COVID-19 Recovery Program will serve as a community-based support system and resource by providing expert medical care to COVID-19 patients as they deal with persistent symptoms such as shortness of breath, lack of energy, chest pain, cough, leg swelling, stomach pain and weight loss, among others, according to information provided by the hospital.

The goal is to leverage Saint Peter’s clinical expertise, working closely with community physicians and specialists, to manage the unique needs of post-COVID-19 patients in their journey to recovery.

According to Dr. Amar Bukhari, chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Saint Peter’s, “We remain vigilant in evaluating the long-term impact of COVID-19, a syndrome that still has many unknowns. While some patients feel better sooner, there are others that are experiencing lasting symptoms. To complicate matters, these symptoms can vary in intensity and duration from patient to patient; what we’ve noticed is that no two cases present the same.”

Saint Peter’s COVID-19 Recovery Program is modeled on a continuum of care that begins with primary care and navigates patients to the specific specialist(s) that may be needed, depending on their symptoms. It is well-documented that many COVID-19 patients continue to experience lung, heart and behavioral health issues, among others, during recovery, according to the statement. Program specialists participating in Saint Peter’s COVID-19 Recovery Program will include pulmonologists, cardiologists, neurologists and others depending on the individual health issues. Saint Peter’s physicians will work collaboratively with primary care physicians and specialists in the community to develop individualized treatment plans so that patients can achieve optimal health, with the goal of long-term recovery.

Initial patient contact will be by telemedicine after which any appropriate labs or tests will be ordered. Subsequent treatment and follow-up will be in-person or virtual and determined on a case-by-case basis. In addition, documentation will be timely and sent to the patient’s existing healthcare provider.

“We want to help patients feel better by effectively managing any lasting effects of the disease,” Dr. Nilam Srivastava, chief of Division of Internal Medicine at Saint Peter’s, said in the statement. “We are collecting data to gain a better understanding of the disease overall and its long-term effects. This data will support our outreach efforts to not only better serve at-risk individuals but to educate them on warning signs.”

Patients participating in the COVID-19 Recovery Program can donate plasma, further promoting COVID-19 medical research, through the Mayo Clinic’s Convalescent Plasma Therapy Research program, which is being conducted at 2,637 sites nationwide, according to the statement. Convalescent blood plasma donations are currently being accepted through the New York Blood Center and American Red Cross.

“My advice for anyone who previously tested positive for COVID-19 is to schedule a telemedicine appointment to learn more about the program and its benefits. Don’t delay in seeking immediate help for any long-lasting effects. Patients can be assured that all information will be kept confidential and that we’re here to help them get better and stay better,” Bukhari said in the statement.

For more information about Saint Peter’s COVID-19 Recovery Program, call the COVID Recovery line at 732-745-8552.

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