Neurology Clinic for COVID-19 Patients | Loyola Medicine
Monday, January 25, 2021

Loyola Medicine Opens Neurology Clinic for COVID-19 Patients Living with Long-term Neurological and Cognitive Symptoms

image of an older woman with a mask on touching her head

MAYWOOD, IL—Loyola Medicine is providing multidisciplinary care for patients with long-term neurological, cognitive and other symptoms associated with COVID-19.

"While most patients with COVID-19 have mild-to-moderate symptoms and recover at home, a fraction of severe, typically hospitalized patients (approximately 10%, according to an article in the British Medical Journal) are discharged with lingering, life-altering symptoms," said José Biller, MD, professor and chair, department of neurology, Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Dr. Biller is leading the Loyola Medicine COVID-19 neurology clinic.

Persistent neurological symptoms in patients following acute COVID-19 may include fatigue; brain fog; loss of smell (anosmia); distorted or loss of taste (dysgeusia); headache; vertigo; sleep disturbances; loss of muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia); and neuromuscular aches, cramps and pain (myalgia).

"These 'long-haul' patients may also have neuropsychiatric symptoms, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder," said Dr. Biller. "As a result of their symptoms, many of these individuals unable to return to work and suffer economic stressors."

For older patients, COVID-19 may increase the risk for or exacerbate cognitive decline and dementia, said Dr. Biller, who co-authored the study, "Correlations between COVID-19 and burden of dementia" in the September 2020 Journal of the Neurological Sciences.  "Many patients with dementia decline significantly after contracting COVID-19."

In addition to Dr. Biller, the Loyola COVID-19 neurology clinic includes neurologists Stasia Rouse, MD and Kathy Kujawa, MD, PhD. The clinic will refer patients to other specialists – including psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, pulmonologists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, nephrologists, and nutritionists – as needed.

"The long-term symptoms of COVID-19 may be protracted," said Richard K. Freeman, MD, MBA, regional chief clinical officer, Loyola Medicine. "Loyola Medicine is committed to providing comprehensive, exemplary care to these patients."

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.