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Lieutenant Governor Visit Puts Long COVID in the Spotlight

Roundtable brings patients, providers and researchers together to address high demand

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Written by Wendy Meyer on December 1, 2023

Everyone might be tired of hearing about COVID-19, but the fact is that Colorado’s long COVID clinics can’t meet the demand. Up to 500,000 Coloradans continue to experience long-term symptoms after COVID, or so-called long COVID. To address this issue, a group of health care providers, researchers and patient advocates came together for a roundtable discussion on long COVID care on Nov. 29 with Colorado’s Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera.

Primavera’s visit to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus started at the Post COVID Multidisciplinary Clinic at UCHealth. After her tour, she met and thanked the team that provides expert care to the long COVID patients in the busy clinic.

At the roundtable in the Anschutz Health Sciences Building, caregivers from UCHealth, National Jewish Health, Family Health West on the Western Slope, and the Extension for Community Health Outcomes (Project ECHO), joined with about 20 long COVID patients and advocates to discuss the challenges they face and share information with Primavera and her team.

The group also took a moment to celebrate a new grant that will be led by Sarah Jolley, MD, associate professor of pulmonary medicine in the CU School of Medicine (SOM), and Donald Nease, MD, SOM professor of family medicine and Director of Community Engagement and Health Equity at the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

“As a result of our partnership through the Colorado Long COVID Community of Practice, and support by the State Government, Colorado was chosen as one of the nine grantees nationally that were each awarded a $5 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to implement and evaluate models for delivering comprehensive, coordinated person-centered care to people with long COVID, particularly those who are disproportionately impacted by the effects of long COVID,” Primavera said.

The lieutenant governor has been an active supporter of long COVID care and patients in the state. Mirwais Baheej, MD, is on Primavera's team and is the senior policy advisor on long COVID, and his office has examined and assessed long COVID and its impacts on health and the socioeconomic well-being of Coloradans in order to develop a framework to address them.

Grant boosts team's care and research efforts

“The AHRQ grant will increase multidisciplinary care resources in our health systems and create a bridge to primary care, providing a full spectrum of care for those with long COVID,” Jolley said. “It will allow us to reach underrepresented populations, including racial minority and rural frontier communities, making sure they have equal access to high quality long COVID care.”

The roundtable discussion also featured an update from Kristine Erlandson, MD, associate professor of medicine of infectious diseases. She shared news on the RECOVER long COVID research initiative at both CU Anschutz and Denver Health. 

Erlandson is the site PI for the RECOVER observational study in Colorado, which recently completed enrollment of just under 13,000 patients nationwide to evaluate risk factors and mechanisms for long COVID. Jolley is the site PI for the newly launched RECOVER NEURO and RECOVER VITAL clinical trials that are taking place at the CCTSI’s Clinical Translational Research Center (CTRC). More information on these trials can be found at RECOVER Clinical Trials.

Topics: COVID-19, CCTSI