Care for COVID and Beyond

One year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a lot of new knowledge medical professionals have gained. At Penn Highlands Healthcare, our physicians are committed to gathering more wisdom about the virus to understand what COVID-19 means for our patients, as well as our communities, both now and in the future.

For our leadership, it has been important for Penn Highlands to play a leading role in our region’s understanding about the virus. Sandeep Bansal, MD, the medical director of the intensive care unit at Penn Highlands DuBois and the Penn Highlands Lung Center, shares an observation he and his team made in 2020. “We were getting a lot of phone calls from emergency departments and doctors both inside and outside our health system asking, ‘What do we do with the patients who had COVID and are still having symptoms?’” Bansal explains: “A patient may have been diagnosed four months prior and since recovered, but later found they were experiencing what I refer to as post-COVID syndrome.”

His definition of post-COVID syndrome refers to the ways patients “were still exhibiting symptoms or had other concerns about their health,” he says. Among that list of concerns are permanent lung damage, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety and depression—all which clearly affect the quality of individuals’ day-to-day lives.

For Bansal and his team, it was a priority to offer patients early comprehensive evaluation and management. On par with what major healthcare organizations in New York City and other more metropolitan areas had started to develop, Bansal saw an opportunity to be one of the first in the country to deliver an important solution: “Instead of addressing each of these cases individually,” he says, “we saw that our team could be a resource for in-person visits and telemedicine visits for these post-COVID syndrome patients. We determined that we could guide them through what needs to be done.”

The Penn Highlands Post-COVID Care Center, which opened in the later part of 2020, is based out of Penn Highlands DuBois and led by Dr. Bansal and his team. The Post-COVID Care Center exists to guide patients through what they need to do and aims to treat them with a compassionate, multidisciplinary approach. It also provides early intervention for possible long-term complications, which the medical community continues to learn about and research in real time, as more trends and data related to COVID-19 emerge. The post-COVID Care Center delivers staff education and works to coordinate educational opportunities with the Penn Highlands Healthcare COVID-19 Task Force for the updates to PHH staff and other physicians’ offices.

For patients and their loved ones who are curious about how this works, all post-COVID patients are initially seen by the COVID Practitioner at the Lung Center. Then Dr. Bansal and his team, including registered nurse navigators, continue to see these patients primarily via our telemedicine service to help promote safety in our hospitals—however, when necessary, they may see the patient in person if that patient is 30 days out from a positive test.

When patients meet the criteria to be seen outside of telemedicine services, they’ll see our team at the Lung Center at Penn Highlands DuBois or at our satellite locations in Brookville, St. Marys, Clearfield, Philipsburg, Huntingdon, Punxsutawney, or Clarion.

Patients who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 can learn more about the post-COVID Care Center by calling (814) 503-4732 at the time of discharge. They may also be referred from QCare and other urgent care centers, as well as their primary care physician, even outside Penn Highlands.

Currently, our area is witnessing local infection rates decreasing as part of our first reprieve from the regional intensity of COVID-19 that affected our communities starting in the fall. However, as we have reminded our communities for the past year, practicing all the necessary precautions remains as vital as ever, as is getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to you. To stay up to date on COVID-19 news in our region, visit To learn more about Dr. Bansal and his team, please see us at