Throughout the last year, it became evident that testing positive for COVID-19 was causing long-term complications for some patients. As this is a new illness and the effects of this disease are continually being discovered, there was no clear path to help those with long-term symptoms. The Edmonton North Primary Care Network (PCN) created the PCN COVID-19 Recovery Clinic to help those experiencing long-term symptoms due to COVID-19.
The PCN COVID-19 Recovery Clinic brings together primary care physicians, specialists and a team of multidisciplinary healthcare providers to help treat those experiencing symptoms from COVID-19, 10 weeks or longer after testing positive. The most common symptoms being extreme mental and physical fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty with memory, concentration and attention, muscle and joint pain, along with anxiety, depression and PTSD. It is estimated that 10% – 30% of people infected with COVID-19 will experience chronic symptoms, regardless of how sick they were when they had COVID-19.
“The further we got into this pandemic, the more we realized these patients were managing serious, long term effects with little or no help. This clinic allows patients to access a number of different services to help them treat and overcome their ongoing symptoms” says Dr. Richard Chan, the lead primary care physician of the PCN COVID-19 Recovery Clinic.
“Many people, including healthcare practitioners, are either unaware or are not yet able to understand the complex nature of the symptoms patients infected with COVID-19 can have for months after infection. We are seeing young, previously healthy, hard working individuals become debilitated by their symptoms.”
The clinic has already seen positive results in the patients they have seen so far.
Zoran Mijajlovic tested positive for COVID-19 in early December. He experienced what is known as typical symptoms of COVID-19 and managed those at home. In January, he began experiencing neurological symptoms, in addition to heart palpitations, joint and muscle pain and even temporary loss of vision in one eye. “I feel like I have brain fog, which I have come to learn many long haul COVID-19 patients experience”.
Zoran’s family doctor referred him to the PCN COVID-19 Recovery Clinic in March of this year. “I felt pretty helpless. No one was sure why I was experiencing these symptoms or what to do about it” Zoran explained. “After my first appointment with Dr. Chan and his team, I had the first decent sleep I have had in months. I finally felt heard and mentally for me, that was a turning point. I knew I was in the right place to get access to the help that I need.”.
Long haul COVID-19 patients require continued follow up with a care team that understands their needs and their limitations. Patients are provided personalized care to meet their needs to ensure they are supported as they manage their health.
The PCN COVID-19 Recovery Clinic is open those who are experiencing symptoms, 10 weeks or more after testing positive for COVID-19, as well as to those who were presumed positive but may not have been able to be tested. Referrals are accepted from all family physicians in Edmonton and area, as well as by self-referral.