Multidisciplinary Center Care for Long COVID Syndrome – a Retrospective Cohort Study



Specialty Utilization Specialty utilization by a total of 1802 patients evaluated at the Comprehensive COVID Center (CCC) during the first 21 months in a total of 2361 initial visits in 12 specialty clinics. The mean number of specialty clinics visited by CCC patients was 1.3 (range 1-6) and multiple clinic consultations accounted for 405 visits.



Persistent multi-organ symptoms after COVID-19 have been termed “long COVID” or “post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection” (PASC). The complexity of these clinical manifestations posed challenges early in the pandemic as different ambulatory models formed out of necessity to manage the influx of patients. Little is known about the characteristics and outcomes of patients seeking care at multidisciplinary post-COVID centers.


We performed a retrospective cohort study of patients evaluated at our multidisciplinary Comprehensive COVID-19 Center (CCC) in Chicago, IL, between May 2020 and February 2022. We analyzed specialty clinic utilization and clinical test results according to severity of acute COVID-19.


We evaluated 1802 patients a median of 8 months from acute COVID-19 onset, including 350 post-hospitalization and 1452 non-hospitalized patients. Patients were seen in 2361 initial visits in 12 specialty clinics, with 1151 (48.8%) in neurology, 591 (25%) in pulmonology, and 284 (12%) in cardiology. Among patients tested, 742/878(85%) reported decreased quality of life, 284/553(51%) had cognitive impairment, 195/434(44.9%) had alteration of lung function, 249/299(83.3%) had abnormal CT chest scans, and 14/116(12.1%) had elevated heart rate on rhythm monitoring. Frequency of cognitive impairment and pulmonary dysfunction was associated with severity of acute COVID-19. Non-hospitalized patients with positive SARS-CoV-2 testing had similar findings than those with negative or no test results.


The CCC experience shows common utilization of multiple specialists by long COVID patients, who harbor frequent neurologic, pulmonary, and cardiologic abnormalities. Differences in post-hospitalization and non-hospitalized groups suggest distinct pathogenic mechanisms of long COVID in these populations.

Keywords: Long COVID, Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection, PASC, Multidisciplinary Care, Health Service Delivery

doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2023.05.002 [Epub ahead of print]

Author(s): Joseph Bailey, M.D.,a,⁎ Bianca Lavelle, M.D.,b Janet Miller, B.S.,a Millenia Jimenez, B.S.,c Patrick H. Lim, M.S.,c Zachary S. Orban, B.S.,c Jeffrey R. Clark, B.A.,c Ria Tomar, B.S.,a Amy Ludwig, M.D.,a Sareen T. Ali, B.S.,c Grace K. Lank, B.S.,c Allison Zielinski, M.D.,d Ruben Mylvaganam, M.D.,a Ravi Kalhan, M.D.,a Malek El Muayed, M.D.,e R. Kannan Mutharasan, M.D.,d Eric M. Liotta, M.D. M.S.,c Jacob I Sznajder, M.D.,a Charles Davidson, M.D.,d Igor J. Koralnik, M.D.,c,1 and Marc A. Sala, M.D.a,1, for the Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive COVID Center Investigators

Publication Date: 2023 May 22

Publication Site: National Library of Medicine

Northwestern Medicine shares new findings from the Comprehensive COVID-19 Center as significant demand remains for patient appointments




Long COVID occurs in approximately a third of COVID survivors and is now the third leading neurologic disorder in the United States. In May 2020, during the height of the pandemic, Northwestern Medicine physicians noticed this growing trend and established one of the first Comprehensive COVID-19 Centers in the United States to treat patients suffering from lingering impacts of the virus such as brain fog, shortness of breath and chest pain. Three years later, a new study published in the American Journal of Medicine reports key findings from more than 1,800 patients who were evaluated during the first 21 months at the Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive COVID-19 Center (CCC) with neurology, pulmonology and cardiology being the most commonly accessed specialties and still in high-demand today.  


The team evaluated 1,802 patients (350 post-hospitalization and 1,452 non-hospitalized) via telehealth or in-person at the CCC between May 2020 and February 2022. Patients were seen in 2,361 initial visits in 12 specialty clinics including neurology, pulmonology, cardiology, otolaryngology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, endocrinology, nephrology, hematology, dermatology, psychiatry and rheumatology. Patients most commonly sought treatment from neurology (49%), pulmonology (25%) and cardiology (12%) specialists.

Among patients tested:

–        85% of patients reported decreased quality of life

–        51% had cognitive impairment

–        45% had altered lung function

–        83% had abnormal CT chest scans

–        12% had elevated heart rate on rhythm monitoring

–        Frequency of cognitive impairment and pulmonary dysfunction was associated with severity of acute COVID-19

–        Non-hospitalized patients with positive COVID-19 testing had similar findings than those with negative or no test results


–        65% of patients identified as female

–        Average age at first clinic visit was 47 years old

–        72% were White, 10% were Black, 4% were Asian and 13% were Hispanic

Publication Date: 13 Jul 2023

Publication Site: Northwestern Medical