The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc in the lives of citizens. Mumbai is the city where most of those infected have successfully beaten the infection, owing to the strategic ‘chase the virus policy’ by the local civic body, astute public-private-partnership efforts and accurate medical interventions. In sync with the ever changing dynamics, doctors and caregivers continue to work tirelessly to save and enrich lives. Aiming to tackle the short and long term implications of COVID-19 in patients who have beaten the infection, Fortis Hospital, Mulund launched a dedicated ‘post-COVID -19 OPD’, today.
The post-COVID-19 OPD is based on three key pillars, clinical assessment, psychological intervention and rehabilitative care. Detailed clinical assessment will help in tackling the residual impact of the infection. Physical rehabilitation is also important to assess impact on mobility, exercise tolerance and muscle weakness. Psychological evaluation will also play a big role in addressing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst those who have battled severe COVID-19; it is as big a component as physical rehabilitation. These key areas of focus will help understand, diagnose and treat the long and short term implications of COVID-19, post recovery.
At the post-COVID-19 OPD, patients will also be assessed for Lung fitness and Pulmonary Fibrosis, especially amongst those who have had complicated recoveries in the ICU. Those with pre-existing conditions such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Obesity, etc. will be evaluated to gauge the seriousness of the disease before, and after contracting COVID-19. This focused effort will help COVID-19 survivors who experience generalized weakness & lethargy, pain in the limbs, and those facing difficulty in recovering Lung capacity.
Spearheaded by Dr Rahul Pandit, Director-Critical Care, the post-COVID-19 OPD will be driven by COVID-19 front liners, Infectious Disease Specialists Dr Anita Mathew & Dr Kirti Sabnis and Dr Charudatt Vaity, Consultant-Intensive Care, along with Mental Health experts and Physiotherapists. The multidisciplinary team will assess the COVID-19 survivors post discharge on day 14, day 28, and in the 3rd and 6th month, under this post COVID-19 health-check program. This first of its kind OPD will be hosted on Wednesday & Saturday every week, at the hospital. The rehabilitation program will also include counselling of COVID-19 survivors about blood plasma donation for Convalescent Plasma Therapy, which will help critically ill patients fighting the infection; a noble way of giving back to the society.
Speaking about the importance of the rehabilitation program and the post-COVID-19 OPD, Dr Rahul Pandit, Director-Critical Care, Fortis Hospital, Mulund & key member of Maharashtra’s COVID-19 taskforce, said, “We have noticed significant changes in patients who have battled COVID-19, like lack of exercise tolerance, disturbed sleep pattern, muscle wasting, lack of appetite, etc. While the neuropsychiatric implications like Depression, Insomnia, etc. are immense too, some of these patients tend to develop worsening of their existing comorbidities. A panel of experts will be required to thoroughly assess post-COVID-19 complications, normal follow-ups are not enough. Re-evaluation of pre-existing conditions will be key to gauge the disease impact before and after COVID-19; for example, a diabetic who pre-COVID-19 had X Insulin dependence, may now require X+/- amount of Insulin, same for those with Hypertension. Rehabilitation will have to be planned as per each patient’s recovery status, and observed over a course of 6 months”.
Speaking about the launch of the dedicated post-COVID-19 OPD, Dr S Narayani, Zonal Director, Fortis Hospitals, Mumbai, said, “Our medical teams were one of the first to join the city-wide fight against COVID-19 in early March 2020. Responding to the call of duty, our teams collectively cared for over 2000 COVID -19 positive patients over the past four months; of this, a big percentage of patients needed acute critical care. We are now entering the next phase of COVID-19 care with the post-COVID-19 OPD, where COVID-19 survivors will be rehabilitated back into their daily lives by providing clinical, psychological and rehabilitative care”.