Long COVID clinic receives $5M grant for underserved

Funding for the Harborview clinic is intended to ensure better access to care for patients from minority and rural populations.

Media Contact: Chris Talbott - 206-543-7129, talbottc@uw.edu

The Post-COVID Rehabilitation and Recovery Clinic at Harborview Medical Center has received a $5 million grant to help members of underserved communities who are battling long COVID.

The Harborview clinic comprises 10 physicians from across the departments of rehabilitation medicine, general internal medicine, family medicine and neurology. Dr. Janna Friedly, professor and chair of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, directs the clinic.

“This grant will improve access to care for underserved people with long COVID,” she said. “This project is the culmination of several years of work our multidisciplinary team has been doing to care for people with long COVID. This is a testament to the power of working together to harness our collective expertise to tackle a challenging problem.”

picture of Dr. Janna Friedly
“We know that there are many more people in the community who struggle to find doctors who understand and can treat people with long COVID effectively,” said Dr. Janna Friedly.

The five-year grant is one of nine awarded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s designed to help multidisciplinary long COVID clinics expand patients’ access to comprehensive, coordinated care. The effort is  particularly designated for underserved, rural, vulnerable or minority populations disproportionately impacted by long COVID, the AHRQ said in a press release.

The grants are the first of their kind in the United States. They are designed to expand access and care, develop and implement new and improved care delivery models, foster best practices for long COVID management, and support the primary care community with long COVID education.

Health professionals first identified patients with long COVID not long after the pandemic began and have been trying to unravel its causes. People are classified with long COVID if their symptoms and conditions continue or develop after an initial COVID-19 infection. People with long COVID experience persistent, varying and potentially disabling conditions such as extreme fatigue and brain fog.

More than 30 million Americans are estimated to be affected by long COVID, a number that continues to rise as more people are infected with the virus. Given the high prevalence and the enormous impact of long COVID on people’s ability to participate in daily activities, there is an urgent need for more resources to help patients access clinical care.

Clinicians' limited knowledge and lack of acceptance of long COVID have slowed the diagnosis of the condition. Underserved communities, who have long struggled to access adequate healthcare, are particularly affected. 

“We know that there are many more people in the community who struggle to find doctors who understand and can treat people with long COVID effectively,” Friedly said. “This grant provides us with the funding to expand access to our clinic, but more importantly to allow us to go out into communities across the five-state WWAMI region to educate patients and train primary care providers to manage long COVID.  Through this grant, we will be able to extend the reach of the clinic into communities that are hardest hit with long COVID, including Latinx, Native Alaskan, South Asian populations and rural communities.”

Friedly's co-primary investigators at the clinic are Dr. Nikki Gentile, primary care medical director, and Dr. Jessica Bender, general internal medicine medical director.


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