In a New York Times op-ed published August 18, Dr. Adam Gaffney of Harvard Medical School and Dr. Zackary Berger of John Hopkins School of Medicine describe the multivalent Long COVID symptoms currently afflicting hundreds of thousands of Americans and the evolving medical practices required to treat the unique needs of these patients. As the authors write, “Long COVID has come to mean different things in different context and to different people,” afflicting some with mild symptoms like chronic fatigue, sustained cough or loss of sense of smell, and others with lasting damage, including severe respiratory illness, kidney damage and delirium.
An illness with such a broad spectrum of potential complications requires an equally accommodating range of potential treatments. Dr. Amanda Johnson, Director of our After Care and TakeCare programs, describes how the NYC Test & Trace Corps’s programs and NYCH+H COVID Centers of Excellence are leading the way to provide the holistic, patient-centric care those suffering from Long COVID require.
Dr. Amanda Johnson’s statement:
The authors issued an important reminder to the medical community: meeting the needs of people living with Long COVID does not require defining the syndrome’s complex pathophysiology. The core tenets of primary care – holistic healing, multidisciplinary collaboration, longitudinal therapeutic relationships – should determine the type of experience people with Long COVID encounter when seeking healthcare. This is what guided the creation of the NYC Test & Trace Corps’s AfterCare program and NYC Health + Hospitals COVID Centers of Excellence.
As providers, this means reframing our understanding from what is wrong to how it is wrong for our patients. It also means shifting our focus from prescribing the right medication to engaging patients in a personalized set of interventions to improve safety, level of function, and independence.
People with Long COVID need paths to interventions beyond medicine, such as behavioral health resources, community groups, disability, and other financial supports. Public programs, such as our AfterCare program, skilled in connecting the diverse universe of people with Long COVID to these services are an essential complement to the emerging medical infrastructure intended to achieve a full and just recovery.
Dr. Amanda Johnson
New York, NY