Rehab Program at Franciscan Health Dyer Targets COVID ‘Long Haulers’

In Dyer, help for Region patients suffering from long-term effects of COVID-19. Franciscan Health Dyer says it has developed a new outpatient rehab program that uses a multidisciplinary team approach for COVID ‘long haulers’.  “The long-standing effects of COVID have become more apparent as the pandemic continued, and physicians are seeing a variety of complications that have been devastating to some patients,” said Medical Director Kami Strong, MD. “Our goal is to return the quality of life that has been diminished by COVID.”

The Long Hauler Outpatient Rehabilitation Program is led by a physiatrist, who guides the recovery with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Other specialists that may be involved include psychologists, pulmonologists, ear, nose and throat specialists and cardiologists. “These patients have a long journey to recovery. We believe our team approach provides the support they need to recover,” Dr. Strong added.

Along with the rehabilitation program, a COVID-19 Long Hauler Support Group led by palliative medicine physician Cathleen McGovern, DO, meets twice a month at Franciscan Health Dyer, where participants can share their stories and provide support to each other. “People have PTSD from this. There’s debilitating exhaustion, depression and anxiety, and that’s where Dr. McGovern’s group comes in,” said Nancy Cutler, MS, RN NEA-BC, director of rehabilitation services and program development.

Cutler says that the patient and their family are centered in the treatment plan, which starts with an assessment by the physiatrist, who determines the therapies needed. Therapists play a vital role in helping the patient build their stamina safely, since overexertion could cause a setback, she said.

To learn more about the Long Hauler Rehabilitation Program, call Cathy from the Physical Medicine Department (219) 407-6307. To reserve a spot in the Long Hauler Support Group, which meets from 2-3PM the first and third Tuesdays of the month, call Melinda from the Palliative Care Department at (219) 922-7159.