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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: John Gillespie | john.gillespie@downstate.edu | (314) 708-9090

SUNY Downstate establishes dedicated clinic for discharged COVID-19 patients

More than 1,000 COVID-19 patients who received inpatient or outpatient care at Downstate to receive specialized follow-up services

Brooklyn, N.Y. - SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University announced today that its University Hospital of Brooklyn has established a dedicated outpatient clinic for the ongoing care of discharged patients following inpatient and outpatient treatment at SUNY Downstate for COVID

The clinic is especially critical considering that many of these patients have pre-existing conditions that likely contributed to their illness. Nearly 90 percent of patients treated at SUNY Downstate had at least two co-morbidities and 30 percent had three or more. Eighty-eight percent of the patients who died from COVID-19 at Downstate were black—all from the three zip codes in the immediate communities Downstate serves.

Even though these patients are considered 'recovered,' there is still much we don't know about the lingering effects of COVID-19," said Mafuzur Rahman, M.D., Vice-Chair of Medicine at SUNY Downstate and the leader of the post-discharge COVID-19 clinic. "Whether it is addressing the potential side-effects of medications they received during their treatment, ongoing respiratory or cardiac issues that have been reported following COVID-19, or the potential for these patients to continue to infect others, this clinic provides all the care they need during their ongoing recovery."

Each patient receives an initial telemedicine visit to assess their immediate healthcare needs. They are then scheduled for an in-person visit to the clinic at University Hospital of Brooklyn for tests and any needed follow-up treatment. Upon arrival, each patient is met at the entrance and donned with a face mask, gown, and appropriate PPE to prevent the spread of infection or reinfection with COVID-19.

In addition to providing care for the short and long-term physical effects of COVID-19, the clinic also assesses the mental health status of these patients. It provides access to resources to help them cope with the emotional trauma associated with their diagnosis and treatment.

"The emotional stress these patients experienced cannot be understated. Isolation, the confinement and extended immobilization of intubation, the realization of having a potentially fatal illness, and separation from loved ones while hospitalized takes a tremendous toll," said Dr. Rahman. "Many will experience the same kind of post-traumatic reaction we see in soldiers and survivors of natural disasters and mass shootings. Caring for the mental health of COVID-19 patients is just as important as caring for the physical impact of the disease."

The clinic will also carefully track the incidence of post-COVID-19 health impacts over time, as well as the success of various therapeutic treatments during recovery.

"This is ground zero. There is no history of what to expect and what treatments work best," added Dr. Rahman. "It is imperative that we share what we learn through research so the entire medical community can provide the most effective care for those who will be diagnosed with COVID-19 in the future."

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About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit www.downstate.edu or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.