Creighton University School of Medicine, in collaboration with CHI Health, has launched a phone line to closely examine COVID-19's long-term effects on Nebraskans and connect patients to care.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines Long COVID as a wide range of new, returning or ongoing health problems that people experience after being infected with the virus. While most people recover, a 2022 CDC study found that nearly 7% of adults had experienced or were still dealing with Long COVID symptoms. These symptoms can vary and take place or continue for at least a month after infection.
Creighton University School of Medicine and CHI Health are working toward improving Long COVID evaluation and treatment access in Nebraska.
Patients who have been experiencing Long COVID symptoms at least a month post-infection can call 402.818.2002. They will speak with someone who will gather basic information and determine next steps, including a telehealth visit with a CHI Health primary care, pulmonology or infectious disease provider.
That provider will help refer the patient to any continued care that may be necessary to help treat Long COVID symptoms. The call to the hotline is free of charge, but follow-up telehealth visits will be billed as a virtual appointment.
“Through time and what we now know about Long COVID, we have found that many patients are not getting the care they need,” said Renuga Vivekanandan, MD, Creighton University School of Medicine Assistant Dean for Strategy and Accreditation – CHI Health Division Director of Infectious Disease. “There is still much to learn about Long COVID. By taking a closer look at the symptoms affecting Nebraskans and connecting them to providers, our hope is to not only learn more about Long COVID impacts, but to streamline care to those who are still struggling.”
“We urge anyone struggling with Long COVID to call the hotline,” said Maureen Tierney, MD, Creighton University School of Medicine Associate Dean – CHI Health Medical Director of Clinical Research. “By sharing information about their symptoms, how long they’ve been dealing with them and when they first were infected with COVID, we are able to take a closer look at that data, find common factors and submit this information to the state. A better understanding of Long COVID will lead to better treatment and outcomes for both current and future patients.”
The Long COVID phone line is now live and telehealth visits will begin on Jan. 15. Creighton University School of Medicine and CHI Health will compile data from patient visits and work with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services with the hope of learning more about how Long COVID is affecting Nebraskans and ways to better treat these lingering symptoms. Because this project is currently being piloted in Nebraska, the phone line is only open to patients living in Nebraska.