Recovery clinics can help COVID long haulers
As the pandemic continues to shift gear with fewer cases, COVID-19 recovery clinics are now becoming an important resource for patients. These clinics are designed to support patients who experience lingering symptoms or additional health problems after being cleared of COVID-19 – a population widely referred to as “long haulers.”
A recent study by the CDC found that two-thirds of non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients received some kind of new diagnosis up to six months after contracting the virus.
“We are seeing that there is a real need for care of long haulers. Sixty days out after COVID-19 many people – including young and formerly healthy individuals – are having profound symptoms, including but not limited to chronic fatigue and brain fog,” said Dr. Jeffrey Ording who specializes in internal medicine at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.
Illinois Masonic launched a COVID-19 recovery clinic specific to assist long haulers with their health care needs. The clinic is open to patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and are over 21 days post-diagnosis with improving symptoms.
At the clinic, long haulers – many who were not hospitalized with COVID-19, but still are not getting better – are comprehensively assessed and directed to care tailored to their individual needs. This includes but is not restricted to heart and lung assessments, memory assessments, and referrals to specialists interested in long haulers.
“Many patients are suffering with neuropsychiatric effects of the virus and care is provided or directed for this as well. Countless patients can also benefit from a behavioral health led “resilience” group for patient networking and coping skills,” said Dr. Ording.
Caroline Guerra, a patient at the clinic, struggled with anxiety, headaches and brain fog post-COVID. She was referred to the support group.
“That support group was an eye opener, but it was also refreshing. It helped because I felt like I was part of a family where we could share experiences,” she said. “We cried together and laughed together. Shared our stories and frustrations. For a while I felt that people didn’t understand, and it was an isolating feeling until I found this group.”
For Guerra it wasn’t as much the breathing that was the issue post-COVID but crippling anxiety that she had never experienced before she contracted the virus.
She noted that it helped her cope with the lingering symptoms of anxiety. “Before I went to the clinic, everything would trigger my anxiety and now knowing what’s happening, my anxiety has gotten much better.”
Treatment at a recovery clinic can help patients learn how to deal with and improve post-COVID symptoms. For people, especially younger adults, who have suddenly been dealing with a new onset of health issues caused by the pandemic receiving guidance can be key to getting a handle on their health.
Are you or someone you know in Chicago struggling to cope with lingering side effects from COVID-19? Appointments available at the locations below:
- Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center: Call 847-384-3394
- Advocate Christ Medical Center: Call 708-684-9335