Some people who have had COVID-19 are finding their symptoms related to the virus continuing for many months. Shortness of breath, persistent fatigue, cognitive “brain fog” issues, difficulty eating and drinking, speech and language problems, cardiac issues, plus the anxiety or depression that can often be associated with the lengthy recovery from this new virus that we still have so much to learn about. It can affect almost every aspect of life and make resuming previous activities harder than expected.
To combat the complicated, multi-layered process of post-COVID-19 recovery, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC) offers a comprehensive “Post-COVID Recovery” program designed to help those with post-COVID-19 health issues.
Pulmonary rehabilitation-certified respiratory therapist, Tammy Magill, RRT, leads a highly skilled multidisciplinary therapy team who carefully evaluates symptoms, tests each patient’s underlying physiologic impairments, and individualizes a specific treatment plan based on the findings.
The goal is to help patients recover from the continuing effects of the disease through specialized therapies and progressive exercise programs designed to improve lingering symptoms and restore functional independence as quickly and safely as possible.
“Interestingly, many of our Post-COVID Recovery patients were not necessarily the most ill, or those hospitalized the longest,” said Magill. “They managed their initial symptoms at home and, either never got over them completely, or got over them originally and symptoms returned months later.”
Alta Loma resident, Denalonor Bustamante, came to PVHMC’s Emergency Department on December 9, 2021, where she was diagnosed with COVID-19, pneumonia and a sinus infection. She was admitted to the hospital, placed on high-flow oxygen and began her 22 day-stay in the Telemetry unit.
She was discharged on New Year’s Eve and began the new year continuing her recovery at home.
“The first couple of weeks at home, I was weak and slept all the time. My head and body ached – and I would cough nonstop for periods ranging from 45 minutes to 2 hours,” said Denalonor.
“I had developed pulmonary thrombosis – my doctor described it as ‘taking shards of glass and spreading it on my lungs,” Denalonor added.
Denalonor’s pulmonologist, Dr. Rakesh Sinha, soon referred her to PVHMC’s Post-COVID Recovery where she began twice weekly sessions on February 18, 2021. At her first appointment, they conducted an assessment – she could only walk on the treadmill with no resistance for five minutes.
She continued this five-minute rehab for the next 2–3 weeks and would come home so exhausted that she would sleep for 2–3 hours. A few months later and Denalonor can now walk on the treadmill with some resistance for more than 20 minutes.
“I’m not as exhausted. My stamina is picking up and I am not coughing as much – I can have a conversation now without gasping at every other word,” said Denalonor.
“I fought long and hard in the hospital and had some dark days, but with the help of the amazing Post-COVID Recovery Associates, I’m working on strengthening my lungs – and I am hopeful.”
Patients who have completed the program say they are happy to be getting “back to normal” and report positive outcomes such as better breathing, improved oxygen levels, reduced anxiety levels, less fatigue, longer walk times, resuming previous recreational activities and returning to work.
For more information about PVHMC’s Post-COVID Recovery Program, call (909) 865-9810 or visit pvhmc.org/postcovid-19rehab.
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