COVID-19 Recovery Program launches to help Windsor-Essex residents

Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) is launching a COVID-19 Recovery Program to help Windsor-Essex residents who have had the virus.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, there’s been 16,843 confirmed cases of COVID in the region, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

“I was intubated with the ventilators and put under for 31 days,” said 55-year-old, Domenic Scandale.

It’s been seven months since Scandele was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I had a tracheotomy put in my neck, I had a collapsed lung with a slow leak in it. I had water all over around my lungs,” he explained. “I couldn’t walk, couldn’t move my arms, my fingers, my hands I was like a stone.”

A healthy, active man, brought to his knees by COVID. Scandale spent more than three months in the hospital before being transferred to HDGH for rehabilitation.

“It was six weeks of intense therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social workers,” Scandale said.

Now, HDGH has developed the COVID Recovery Program (CRP) which offers individualized education, treatment and supports for patients who are experiencing any number of chronic conditions associated following a diagnosis.

The program includes any condition that is impacting the quality of an individual’s life, whether it be physical or emotional.

“As we look at a post-pandemic world, we must acknowledge that many of us will be affected by this pandemic for years to come. This program that we have developed is built upon a number of foundational programs that HDGH has been operating at our Prince Road location,” said Jason Petro, manager of Ambulatory Services at HDGH.

The goal of this program is to reduce the burden of disability, maximize functioning and improve quality of life by detecting and treating reversible conditions and recommending optimal management of chronic conditions associated with a diagnosis of COVID-19.

“There might be about 2,000-2,500 people what we call long-haulers syndrome or long COVID, so it’s a big concern to help those individuals out,” Petro said.

The CRP education, treatment and support are provided by inter-professional teams of health professionals in an outpatient setting at HDGH.

“What was important for our team when developing this program was to ensure that we as an organization were not only addressing the physical, but also the emotional needs of those individuals who are experiencing the long hauler effects of a COVID-19 diagnosis,” added Petro.

Patients can be referred to the CRP through their primary care physician and through the acute care hospital system.

“I’m so happy today that I’m able to do some of the things I was able to do not perfect, but I’m getting there,” Scandale said.

“We think we have a great foundation to help these individuals out, but as we learn from them and they learn from us it will only benefit in the longer haul,” Petro said.

Scandale hopes in the next six months to be back at doing everything he used to do.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel you just have to push for it,” Scandale said. “Don’t give up. And these programs are going to be good for you.”