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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals announces post-COVID model system

July 19, 2023

An estimated 23.5% of adult Nebraskans have ever experienced long COVID, defined as symptoms that persist more than three months following the onset of a COVID-19 infection. To date, more than 65,000 adult Nebraskans are currently experiencing long COVID, and roughly 18,000 report that their symptoms reduce their ability to carry out day-to-day activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The broad impact of COVID has implications not only in the home but also at work and in our communities as affected individuals may be struggling to resume prior life roles.

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals is pleased to formally announce its model system of post-COVID rehabilitation care, made possible through $7.5 million from public and private grants. The model system combines clinical programming, research, mental health services and education to address the long-term impact of COVID-19. The proposed work expands beyond the post-COVID clinic that Madonna launched on the Omaha and Lincoln campuses last year to ensure patients have access to integrated and comprehensive rehabilitation services across the health care continuum (inpatient, outpatient, medical fitness and return to work). The model system also seeks to collaborate with the medical community across the state to provide resources and research opportunities to better serve Nebraskans impacted by the long-term effects of the virus.

“COVID-19 continues to evolve and leave behind a wake of individuals with lasting challenges,” Paul Dongilli Jr., president and CEO of Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals, said. “Through this work, we can proudly serve the unmet post-COVID rehabilitation needs of thousands of patients in our communities and region, and help patients nationwide achieve positive outcomes.”

The model system of care is the culmination of years of work, both to understanding the long-COVID disease and its impact on Nebraskans. However, the work is only just beginning. Madonna is committed to advancing research and establishing best practices for caring for this unique population. With help from community partners, the model system of care stands to propel Nebraska to the forefront of post-COVID care.

“While the science surrounding COVID prevention has evolved notably over the past few years, there are still many unknowns regarding the optimal rehabilitation treatments to facilitate recovery from the diverse, lingering and debilitating effects of the disease,” Judith Burnfield, Ph.D., vice president of research at Madonna’s Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, said. “Our model system of care aims to advance the art and science of post-COVID rehabilitation by harnessing Madonna’s exceptional clinical expertise, technology and research resources and bridging those with external partners to help individuals across Nebraska rebuild their lives following COVID.”

Common symptoms of post COVID-19 can include fatigue, memory problems (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”), shortness of breath, joint or muscle pain, heart palpitations, chest pain, changes to taste/smell, or an inability to exercise. Tasks once performed effortlessly become laborious both physically and mentally. Patients experiencing these and other symptoms are urged to see their doctor and ask to be referred to Madonna. More information, including a symptom self-assessment, is available at Madonna.org/Post-Covid.

Madonna’s Post-COVID rehabilitation clinics on both the Lincoln and Omaha campuses are now accepting patients experiencing post-COVID symptoms. The specialty clinic will serve thousands of patients across Nebraska and nationwide who are dealing with lasting physical, mental, emotional and functional challenges following a COVID-19 infection.

The following local media also featured Madonna's post-COVID model system: 

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