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Long-term help coming to COVID patients with long-term side effects

Long-term help coming to COVID patients with long-term side effects

Norton Healthcare is getting ready to launch long-term care clinics for COVID-19 patients still experiencing side effects weeks, if not months, after contracting the virus.

Meghan Harpole is just one of the patients.

“I actually told all my nurses at work, when this all started back in mid-March, I wasn’t worried about getting it,” Harpole said. “I’ll be fine, I’m healthy. I take care of myself.”

As a nurse with Norton Healthcare, Harpole knew she’d be treating patients with COVID-19, but the 44-year-old mother never thought it would come home with her.

“I’ve never been so sick in my entire life. It was very debilitating,” Harpole said.

Her symptoms began March 27. She was diagnosed on the 31st, and still to this day suffers from long-term side effects.

“I’m more short of breath,” Harpole said. “I went from running and power yoga every day to difficulty walking up a flight of stairs.”

Studies show that 70% of adult COVID-19 survivors are experiencing long-term side effects, impacting their heart, lungs, central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract among other areas of the body. Kids are also showing the same signs.

For Harpole, her breathing only worsened, landing her in the hospital back in June. Then she started to notice her mind slipping.

“I was just so shocked to be so out of it. I couldn’t even carry on long conversations with people,” Harpole said. “I’d look at them and could hear them speaking, but I couldn’t…I just felt very strange. I was out of it.”

Norton Medical Group’s Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Joseph Flynn calls it a fogginess, another side effect of COVID-19.

“The inflammation caused by this virus in both adults and children is profound and the amount of organ donation is still to be determined,” Flynn said.

Harpole’s thought process has improved over the last few weeks, some five months after contracting the virus, but other symptoms remain.

“I’ve never had issues sleeping before, and now I sleep maybe three hours at a time. Those were the biggest issues,” Harpole said.

Norton Healthcare’s new long-term care clinics were created for people like Harpole looking for a fix.

“They may not bounce back like they thought they would, and that’s what the clinic is all about — to give them a place that’s easy, where we have a true understanding of what’s going on…to try to not only get the answers but the treatment, long-term, if they need it,” Flynn said.

The adult clinic will open Sept. 17 in the Norton Healthcare Pavilion at 315 E. Broadway. Pediatric patients will be seen in the Novak Center at 411 E. Chestnut St.

Appointments are required; patients can be referred from their primary care provider or may self-refer. A confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis is required. For more information, call (502) 861-4488.

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