CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Many patients who recover from a critical illness in the intensive care unit (ICU) are not always fully recovered. That’s why doctors at the University of Virginia Medical Center have created a post-ICU clinic for COVID-19 patients who have been discharged.
Dr. Chintan Ramani and Dr. Alexandra Kadl helped put this program together along with others at the UVA Medical Center for recovered coronavirus patients. The clinic fully began on June 2.
Dr. Ramani and Dr. Kadl say it has become clear in recent years that patients have long-term pulmonary and cognitive function deficits after a prolonged stay in the hospital, especially when someone is on mechanical ventilation.
All of the COVID-19 patients they are seeing in the clinic were on mechanical ventilation or had a very high oxygen requirement during their stay.
“We’re checking their lung function and a couple of cognition and depression scale, and based on all the clinical data we will decide if they need to come back in six months or not,” Dr. Ramani said.
The patients that enter the clinic will go through different screenings, including a depression and insomnia test.
The doctors say they’re seeing these patients six weeks after they have been discharged from the ICU. They have been examining three to five patients a week in the clinic.
“Surprisingly for how sick they are, they’re actually doing really fantastic,” Dr. Kadl said. “They still have some lung functions that are abnormal, but it’s hard to see whether they are still recovering or if it actually has left to scarring there. Cognitive function of our patients is good. We have very mild cognitive dysfunction in those patients returning.”
Dr. Ramani and Dr. Kadl want to expand their efforts to other areas.
“We’re also thinking about reaching out to different hospital systems nearby us to see if they want to refer those patients to us,” Dr. Ramani said.