THE EAGLE. Covid often does not end with a negative buffer. More or less severe symptoms may persist for weeks, from simple muscle pain to hyperthyroidism, myocarditis and pulmonary fibrosis. But also anxiety attacks and panic attacks. Symptoms that sometimes appear after some time.
Abruzzo is one of the first regions in Italy to have activated a clinical path, defined in all the steps, which guarantees the care of patients affected by the “Long Covid 19” syndrome.
A “long Covid” clinic will be created in each ASL, coordinated by an infectious disease doctor, assisted by a staff of specialists in the various areas of health intervention. The regional council approved the guidelines for the assistance of patients with previous Covid infection, developed by the regional health agency (ASR), led by the commissioner, Pierluigi Cosenza.
CLINICAL PATH. In the case of symptoms that develop during or after a Covid infection, which continue for more than 12 weeks and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis, it is advisable to contact the infectious disease specialist. “To identify these pathologies”, explains Cosenza, “the infectious doctor will make use of a specific screening questionnaire, which can also be administered by telephone to intercept persistent symptoms and understand if they are attributable to Covid”.
A priority class will be established for visits to the clinics: short, with access to the clinic within ten days, for major complaints and deferred, within 30 days, for less demanding symptoms.
ASSISTANCE. “These are”, adds Cosenza, “the first indications on the clinical criteria of reference in the surveillance of patients clinically recovered from Covid 19. The impact on recovered patients is an area in continuous and rapid evolution and data are not yet available. comprehensive on all aspects to be considered. For this reason, the lines developed can be updated or revised on the basis of further scientific evidence or ministerial indications ».
At the moment the regional health agency is not in possession of a precise case study, “but there are many patients”, confirms the commissioner of the ASR, “who turn to regional health structures to be assisted”. Patients with a negative swab, but with disorders such as hyperthyroidism, muscle pain, myocarditis, pericarditis and pulmonary fibrosis as well as a psychological component that results in anxiety attacks. AMBULATORI LONG COVID. A Long Covid clinic will be set up in each ASL, coordinated by the medical specialist in infectious diseases, who will work in a team with a pulmonologist, cardiologist, neurologist, nephrologist, psychiatrist or psychologist and a nurse with specific training. Depending on the needs, other medical or health professionals may be involved (ophthalmologist, ENT, geriatrician, dermatologist, rheumatologist, endocrinologist, specialist in physical and rehabilitation medicine, dietician, pharmacist).
NEGATIVE BUFFER. There is a fundamental prerequisite for access to Long Covid clinics: the complete negativization of the patient. In fact, to start the assistance, the patient, both hospitalized and assisted at home, must be clinically cured and with a double negative nasopharyngeal swab. Only later, if the symptoms continue to persist, will he be contacted by telephone by an infectious disease specialist or general practitioner, who will administer the screening questionnaire to understand the correlation with Covid. The patient can be assisted in day hospital, day service, with the preparation of outpatient packages for more complex cases, which require clinical investigations, or with outpatient service.
ASSISTANCE OVER TIME. «With the activation of the Long Covid clinics», Cosenza underlines, «we are able to follow not only hospitalized patients but all those who, once discharged from the hospital, still have problems. In some cases, the Covid disease does not end with negativization but can highlight subsequent disorders that must be treated to avoid consequences and for a better quality of life “.
ABRUZZO FIRST. For Abruzzo it is a first, at a national level, to adopt a programming tool for the assistance of patients who have been negativized by Covid, but who do not have an optimal state of health. “The scientific literature”, explains the councilor for health, Nicoletta Verì, «Indicates the possibility of remote effects on various organs. Consequently, the possible presence, in the period following the acute phase, of clinical or functional, temporary or persistent outcomes, requires the need to guarantee a complete care response, through multidisciplinary care, which can respond to the needs of these patients “.