The University of Kansas Health System reports an increase in the number of COVID patients today. 22 with the active virus are being treated, up from 20 yesterday and only two are vaccinated. Nine patients are in the ICU, up from seven yesterday. Three are on ventilators, up from two yesterday. 27 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 31 yesterday. That’s a total of 49 patients, down from 51 yesterday. HaysMed reports a total of 12 COVID patients.
On today’s Open Mics With Dr. Stites, imagine you beat COVID but there are lingering health effects months later. We met one COVID long hauler who shared her struggle and how the post-COVID clinic at The University of Kansas Health System has made a difference in her recovery.
Mikayla Dreyer was a perfectly healthy 29-year-old. She’s a long distance runner, never took a sick day from work, and never needed to take any medications. Then COVID hit, before she’d been vaccinated. Here is her story. The infection cleared in the normal time, but after five months, she was still feeling chest pain, fatigue, muscle weakness and tremors causing her to lose her grip and drop things all the time. At one point she even needed a wheelchair. She heard about The University of Kansas Health System’s post-COVID clinic and got a referral from her doctor. The clinic brings together experts from a variety of specialties to develop a unique plan for each long haul COVID patient. Mikayla needed a lot of physical therapy, as well as medications to keep her blood pressure low so she didn’t faint when standing up. After months of hard work, she can tell it’s made a big difference. She’s feeling “not too shabby,” though she says, “Hills and stairs are still a beast!” The hardest part was having people see her looking normal and not understanding what she was experiencing. Or the times others could see that something was wrong but not know what it was. She has also had mental health counseling during her long recovery, which she says has been invaluable. She says the long haul clinic was a game changer for her. She’s so optimistic about her recovery, she’s booked a Caribbean cruise for next month, which includes a kayaking excursion.
Brandon Comfort, MD, is an internal medicine specialist at The University of Kansas Health System and sees many patients in the long haul clinic. 180 million people around the world report long haul symptoms six months after their infection. He says Mikayla’s story is typical and explained how to know when it’s time to come to the clinic. He described the different specialties, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy which are vital for nearly every patient. He said the post-COVID symptoms can last a long time, but about half the patients see full resolution of their symptoms within a year or two. He said the vaccine definitely makes a difference in reducing the risk of becoming a long hauler. He tells patients, “Don’t look at this in days. Don’t compare it to yesterday. Compare it in weeks and months. More times than not we’re seeing improvements in those big chunks of time.”
Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, discussed word from the White House that children ages 5 to 11 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 shot at their pediatrician's office, local pharmacy and potentially even their school. He says the health system is already making plans to administer the vaccine in regular pediatric clinics as soon as it’s formally approved. As far as getting a booster with a different brand of vaccine from your original, it’s still being studied, but initial data shows it will probably be safe. He worries we’ll see another surge this winter as people gather at restaurants and holiday parties without masks and a vaccination rate of just 50 percent in the Metro. He reminds us, “Through research and science, we can help bring hope. And with hope we can all cope a little better because the end of the pandemic can come about. But it does take all of us.”
Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control, says it’s vital for kids five to 11 to get vaccinated as soon as it’s allowed so they will be fully protected for the holidays. He addressed the question of whether an 11- year-old should get the child dose, which is expected to be half an adult’s dose, or wait till they turn 12 and get a full dose. He says don’t wait, get the 11-year-old vaccinated as soon as possible. Then when it’s time for a booster they’ll get the full dose.
Thursday, October 21 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. We’ll look at new pain relief for people with diabetic neuropathy. Meet one patient who says he is 100% pain free following an FDA approved procedure.
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