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There are some people that get mild-to-moderate disease that are not hospitalized, but then they have lingering symptoms for months.  Depositphotos
There are some people that get mild-to-moderate disease that are not hospitalized, but then they have lingering symptoms for months.  Temple Health

Temple’s Dr. Salerno shares the latest on ‘long-haul’ COVID-19

Temple’s Dr. Daniel Salerno discusses treatment options and the Post-COVID Recovery Clinic to help those still dealing with the virus’s effects.

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Pulmonologist Dr. Daniel A. Salerno joined AL DÍA News to share information about Temple Health’s Post-COVID Recovery Clinic, long-haul symptoms, and when one should consider receiving care from a pulmonologist specializing in COVID-19 long-haul symptoms.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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AL DÍA News: Can you please tell us about yourself and your journey to Temple Health?

Dr. Salerno: I am originally from Caracas, Venezuela, and graduated as a physician there. I then came to the United States to continue my training and specialization in Philadelphia. In 2015, I joined Temple’s Lung Center.

I saw the pandemic unfold from here. Temple was one of the hospitals that had the most inpatients with COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. There were people on mechanical ventilation for weeks. 

When I was in the intensive care unit a year ago, back in March and April, almost 60% of our patients were from our Latino community. I keep seeing many of the same patients at our Post-COVID Recovery Clinic.

ADN: What is the Post-COVID Recovery Clinic?

DS: The clinic was started to treat the many people with COVID-19 who have persistent symptoms after the initial infection. 

Symptoms include shortness of breath and a persistent cough. There is a spectrum. Some people remain oxygen-dependent, meaning that they have to have oxygen through their nose 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Others have more mild issues. There are people that were able to exercise three times a week before COVID-19, but now they cannot do prolonged physical activity. 

These symptoms do not necessarily correlate with how sick you were during the initial episode. There are some people that get mild-to-moderate disease that are not hospitalized, but then they have lingering symptoms for months. 

ADN: What types of treatments does the clinic offer?

DS: It varies a lot. In some ways, we are in uncharted territory here. This is stuff that we’ve never seen before. We often base our diagnoses from previous experience with lung diseases. For example, if we do a pulmonary function test and find something that looks like asthma, even in people that have never had asthma before, then we give treatment with inhalers. 

I wouldn’t say that there is one approach that works for everyone. We consider many different therapeutic options based on the patient’s needs. This clinic takes a comprehensive approach. We mostly focus on lung issues, but if we need to, we have plenty of colleagues here at Temple that can deal with other persistent issues, such as cardiology, rheumatology and endocrinology.

ADN: When should someone who has recovered from COVID-19 but still has symptoms consider making an appointment with the Temple Post-COVID Recovery Clinic?

DS: After COVID-19, you probably need to wait three or four weeks before thinking of yourself as a long-hauler. Maybe some of the symptoms are going to get better on their own, and it doesn’t require medical advice at that point. 

If you are continuing to experience symptoms after that, though, I invite you to seek help from the Temple Health Post-COVID Recovery Clinic. 

At the clinic, we have several providers that speak Spanish. I do. And it’s not just the physicians. It is also the people at the front desk that are going to help them set up appointments and the nurses that are going to give them information. Patients can feel comfortable speaking in Spanish here at the clinic.

Breathing is important for everything we do in life. It impacts quality of life when you are no longer able to do the things that you were able to do before getting sick. 

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To talk to the specialists at the Post-COVID Recovery Clinic, call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) or request an appointment online.

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