Restoring Hope: JPS’s Post-Recovery Clinic Helps COVID-19 Patients on the Road to Recovery
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the Post Recovery Clinic at John Peter Smith (JPS) Health Network is adapting to help serve the long-term health needs of Fort Worth’s COVID-19 positive patients.
The Post Recovery Clinic, which operates every other Tuesday of each month, serves as a one-stop shop for COVID-19 positive patients to receive care, said Dr. Steven Davis, pulmonary and critical care physician and Chairman of Internal Medicine at JPS. Patients at the clinic receive both COVID-19–related treatment and care for unrelated health needs that their positive diagnosis precludes them from receiving elsewhere.
“In the beginning, if you came to any doctor’s office or hospital and said you had COVID, it would be really difficult to get in the door,” said Davis. “At that point, we also had no idea how long you were infectious for or whether you were immune. So, putting everyone under one roof seemed like the right thing to do.”
On staff at the clinic are a pulmonologist, internalist, dietician, and behavioral health specialist so that patients can get the breadth of their needs taken care of in one place, at one time. In addition, social workers and financial assistance advisers are available to help patients gain access to any resources they may need.
“We identify that it’s really tough,” said Davis. “Frequently, the entire household will be infected, so if the one breadwinner in the family just got COVID, they’ve just lost their income. We’ve seen a lot of financial insecurity, a lot of food insecurity, so in an effort to tackle as much as we could there, too, we’ve been getting resources to people and identifying needs.”
Although the JPS Health Network was lucky to have a stockpile of personal protective equipment like masks and gowns leftover from preparations for the possible Ebola outbreak in 2014, nobody was anticipating an emergency event quite like this.
“Originally, when we planned for disasters, we were thinking about a tornado hitting a town or a mass shooting where the event itself is relatively short-term,” said Davis. “The other flavor of disaster which is much harder to plan for is what we’ve got now, where it’s an ongoing event with ongoing needs. It’s tough because it puts strain on staff, it puts strain on patients, it puts strain on the community, as everybody saw.”
Still, when preparations for the clinic began in April of this year, JPS was able to mobilize quickly. A number of clinic closures meant that space away from noninfected patients was available, and physicians from across disciplines volunteered their services. By May 26, the clinic was up and running at the JPS Polytechnic Health Center at 1650 Beach Road.
“The meetings to plan to have meetings kind of evaporated, and what used to take up to a couple years to plan we had ready in a couple of weeks,” said Davis.
Once the clinic was in operation, staff members had to become familiar with working so closely with patients infected with COVID-19. Davis credits much of the clinic’s success to the staff’s consistency over the past several months.
“There’s been a lot of personal growth and comfort with the disease and its care,” said Davis. “It was a lot of coaching and reassurance on our part, but I think there was a lot of fear there initially. After the first couple of clinics, folks got used to it, and the patients were very gracious.”
With over 200 patients having visited the Post Recovery Clinic, one of its main payoffs is the amount of knowledge it has allowed physicians to gain about COVID-19.
“We can start telling patients and their families with more reassurance that we have been able to care for lots of folks, and that yes, you may be short of breath now, but bear with us for the next couple of weeks or months and you will get better,” said Davis. “This kind of clinic is really the only way we could’ve done that to give people that sort of reassurance.”
For those working on the frontlines, too, the clinic has helped restore a sense of hope.
“Unfortunately, being a hospital provider for COVID, I have witnessed a lot of folks not survive their disease,” said Davis. “It’s reassuring and rewarding to see folks on a path to recovery.”
Davis anticipates that the Post Recovery Clinic will be operating at its current capacity for a while. Once COVID-19 cases subside or a vaccine becomes available, the clinic will cut back operations until it can eventually scale back altogether. In the meantime, he urges Fort Worthians to continue wearing masks and social distancing.
Maggie Kelleher is a senior at SMU. She is double majoring in journalism and marketing, as well as minoring in history.
Maggie, do you have a phone # for the clinic?
– Lee Geurkink
I look forward to my visit next week. I was hospitalized from January 17 thru March 9, 2021. I am finally getting into the clinic. If it wasn’t for the amazing nurses, I wouldn’t be here.
Thank you for all Ya’ll are doing.