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Barwon Health / Barwon South West Public Health Unit

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Long COVID team successful at Bendigo COVIDTHON

Monday, 27 March 2023

Barwon South West Public Health Unit Epidemiologist Dr Michael Muleme and Barwon Health's Dr Darcie Cooper recently attended  COVIDTHON held in Bendigo which was run in partnership between the Victorian Department of Health’s Centre for Victorian Data Linkage (CVDL) and Bendigo Health as a COVID-focused datathon.

The event brought together teams of researchers, data scientists and clinicians to explore a range of research questions related to COVID-19, and its ongoing impact on healthcare and service delivery in Victoria.

Michael and Darcie were part of the ‘Long COVID’ team which included one other researchers from Deakin and LaTrobe Universities. The team were successful in winning the $14,000 research prize due to their final presentation and will continue to complete their studies.

The team's research question was “What are the demographic and clinical characteristics of people accessing health services three to six months after COVID-19 infection, and what services do they access?”

Accessing health services, 3-6 months post COVID-19 diagnosis was used as a measure to capture the long COVID-19 cohort.  The preliminary findings indicated some groups were more likely to access health services, and the age range was not necessarily what we expected (the heaviest service users were middle-aged adults).

Due to the fact that Long COVID has been reported to affect multiple systems, the team analysed patient service use through a the continuum of care including services like home & community care, hospital admissions, ED presentations, mental health, community health. The team also produced service use scores for the patients included in the study cohort.

For future work, the challenge of identifying who has ‘Long COVID’ and who doesn’t may be an areas tudied which will allow tracking the services people use over time. The team also aims to produce a priority system for service provision for supporting long COVID patients, along with service costs for long COVID patients to assist with the planning of health care for long COVID-19 patients. 

PHOTO: L-R: Sarah Annesley, Paul McGrath, Farina Palmer, Darcie Cooper, Danielle Hitch, Nhat Nam Hoang, and Michael Muleme.