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Bon Secours receives grant for Long COVID research

Health care providers at the Bon Secours Diane Collins Neuroscience Institute have received a Healthy State Alliance Momentum Research Grant for $30,117 to study Long Haul COVID.

Healthy State Alliance, an initiative between Bon Secours Mercy Health and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, awarded the grant as part of an internal program to provide pilot funding for collaborative research. Dr. Kathleen Woschkolup, the Director of Neurology at Bon Secours St. Francis in Greenville, will be working with Ohio State researchers in hopes of finding better treatment options for patients suffering from neurocognitive fatigue due to COVID.

“Ohio State is treating patients according to their protocols, and we’re treating patients here according to ours. The hope from both institutions is we’re able to learn more about the neurocognitive function in these patients by comparing how we’re doing things differently and what works best. Hopefully it will give us more information on how to better treat these patients and give them better outcomes,” explained Dana Hodges, a speech language pathologist for Bon Secours St. Francis.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, health care officials have noticed a rise in the number of patients who recovered from COVID only to find they were facing new challenges.

“I’m seeing a lot of them have an inability to organize and process information. They feel very cloudy in their thinking process – having trouble finding the right word, multi-tasking. It’s harder for them to focus,” said Hodges, who clarifies that these problems have been traced directly back to the pandemic. “These are very high-level patients, and that’s how they know something’s not quite right. They’ve gone back to work after recovering from COVID and realizing they’re not as quick on their feet and are having trouble communicating – issues that weren’t present before.”

While treatment plans vary based on the individual patient’s needs, Hodges reports seeing improvement in 6 to 8 weeks on average. She hopes with information gained through this new study will only continue to help improve treatment options and their impact on these patients’ quality of life.

Ultimately, researchers hope this study will eventually lead to the establishment of a specific diagnosis with a standard set of therapies for other patients facing prolonged neurocognitive problems as a result of COVID. The Healthy State Alliance Momentum Research Grant is the first step in accomplishing that goal.

“The hope is this money will help lay the groundwork for a larger study to be put in place. This gives them seed funding to get the framework together and ideally, within a year, they can submit for additional funding from the National Institute of Health or some other industry funding which will allow us to see how it really affects people,” said Roderick Liptrot, Healthy State Alliance clinical research manager.

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