For COVID Long Haulers, Knowledge and Empathy Are Key to a Cure | Healthiest Communities

What is also undeniable is how ill-prepared the health system seems to be to meaningfully help these COVID “long haulers” return to wellness. In fact, the presentation of this apparent post-viral syndrome has stumped experts and clinicians who have struggled to find guidance on how to treat the condition. This hard reality has prompted long haulers to create or join social media-based support groups in search of answers, advice or, at the very least, solidarity.

The question, then, is: Why are we so stumped by these post-COVID long haulers?

Many medical providers have not received training on how to diagnose or treat the types of complex multiorgan disease triggered through the disruption of immune, endocrine, nervous and cardiovascular systems. Moreover, this lack of training has perpetuated the stigma that ME/CFS and similar conditions are not real. This is aggravated by the lack of a diagnostic test and the fact that most of the usual medical tests, ordered for nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, are likely to show no abnormalities.

Although these results can provide relief that the cause of a patient’s problems is not cancer or organ failure, the related “everything seems to be fine” talk minimizes the patients’ symptoms, invalidates their experiences and marks the beginning of a lonely road. Patients blame themselves for not shaking symptoms off. As time goes by, they may perceive or be outright told that their symptoms are psychological, implying they just need to try harder to feel better. Since ME/CFS appears to be an inflammatory brain condition that can also cause anxiety or depressive symptoms, many patients are referred to mental health services, reinforcing the perception that the problem must be “in their heads”.

To be sure, there is increasing recognition that treating post-COVID-19 syndrome will require biologic and holistic approaches, as well as extensive research. These insights have led to the creation of treatment centers to try to assist these patients. Experts have published management guidelines that can aid these centers.

However, initial approaches may create challenges. Although protocols that emphasize physical therapy and cardiovascular and respiratory rehabilitation offer a correct approach in general – particularly for those who were hospitalized – there are important caveats. Many patients with disabling symptoms will have normal respiratory and cardiac function, and related tests, although necessary, may not clarify the cause.

In addition, the traditional type of physical therapy recommended for ME/CFS by what is now considered a flawed study can backfire and make symptoms worse. In fact, research has shown that pacing is a pivotal component in the management of ME/CFS. Rehabilitation should be personalized, go slow and be monitored for relapse, recognizing that neuroinflammatory illness can “flame on” when pushed too hard.

As physicians and investigators ourselves, we understand the challenges of creating treatment guidelines in the absence of a significant body of research. However, while studies are being conducted, we ought to use the evidence that does exist on ME/CFS and related conditions, such as mast cell activation, to deploy the multidisciplinary

Read more

Ultimate Medical Academy Teaches Empathy, Sensitivity Through Virtual Reality at ‘Spark Summit’ Conference for Healthcare Employers

The nonprofit higher education institution hosted more than 40 industry partner attendees at the 5th annual Spark Summit.

Spark Summit guests kicked off the conference from a virtual amphitheater which allowed them to enjoy some of the beautiful sites downtown Tampa has to offer.
Spark Summit guests kicked off the conference from a virtual amphitheater which allowed them to enjoy some of the beautiful sites downtown Tampa has to offer.
Spark Summit guests kicked off the conference from a virtual amphitheater which allowed them to enjoy some of the beautiful sites downtown Tampa has to offer.

TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA), a nonprofit higher education institution with the mission of equipping and empowering students to excel in healthcare careers, hosted more than 40 industry partner attendees at the 5th annual Spark Summit. Each year, the Summit brings together healthcare leaders from across the nation who partner with UMA to match graduates to much-needed healthcare roles within their organizations. Summit participants get to connect, share achievements, and gain new insights about trends in healthcare education, recruitment and professional development. This year’s Summit looked different than usual due to social distancing measures and travel restrictions, and due to a new and unique conference element – virtual reality (VR).

“VR has been a buzz-term for decades but in the last five years, it has really begun to emerge in practice, and education is a key area of opportunity,” said Geordie Hyland, UMA’s Executive Vice President. “Over the next decade, emerging technologies are expected to play a significant role in the transformation of education. The Spark Summit is giving UMA the chance to showcase some of our new VR learning experiences which are available now and were designed to help Healthcare employers upskill their workforces.”

During the 2020 Spark Summit, attendees donned VR goggles first to ‘meet and greet’ each other during an opening session hosted in a virtual downtown Tampa amphitheater and then to participate in empathy training vignettes.

Empathy and sensitivity are critical skills in healthcare – driving patient satisfaction, compliance and trust, which are good for patient health outcomes as well as a company’s success.

“UMA has more than a decade of experience in online learning, and the circumstances of this year presented an opportunity to share our expertise with partners in a new way,” said April Neumann, UMA’s Senior Vice President of Career Services. “Empathy is a vital skill for all industries that interact with customers and patients, especially healthcare. We wanted to provide a unique and meaningful VR experience that was educational while also being impactful.” 

The training vignettes were created to be as realistic as possible, drawing on real-world experiences that patient-facing healthcare workers encounter working in a retail environment as a pharmacy technician, or even in a work-from-home environment supporting open enrollment for healthcare insurance organizations. The environments themselves were also crafted to be as realistic as possible, from the items present on the pharmacy counter to the number of screens an employee would have in a typical work-from-home position. Summit participants got to play the role of a healthcare worker in the VR

Read more