With more and more people suffering with long-term COVID, programs are now popping up to help patients receive the comprehensive treatment they need.
Dr. Bruce Levy at Brigham and Women's Hospital, says up to 30% of patients with COVID, many with only mild illness, have at least one symptom that persists for three to six months or more, a condition referred to as long COVID.
“It's another pandemic, and it threatens the health of a generation,” he says. “Long COVID involves multiple parts of the body, multiple symptoms. And so, going to any one doctor is a real challenge to comprehensively evaluate this.”
Brigham and Women’s Hospital established a COVID recovery center where patients have their lingering symptoms addressed, all in one place.
“They get an itinerary for any doctors or other healthcare providers they'll be seeing,” Levy says.
Patient Phil Baczewski has been coming to the center for a few months.
In March 2020, Baczewski developed fever, a cough and trouble breathing. When the 47-year-old father of four went to the hospital, the doctor didn't mince words. “He said you're really sick and if we don't put you on life support you're going to die,” Baczewski says.
Baczewski had COVID-19, was in pulmonary failure, and given a 10% chance to live. He spent 28 days in the hospital, 16 of them in a coma.
“From when I woke up till the day I left, it was like it was a struggle to even just use my hands to feed myself,” he says.
More than a year later, Baczewski still suffers from nerve pain, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, and brain fog. He hopes more long COVID patients can find the help they need, by coming to places like the recovery center.
“It's provided me with some hope for the future that, you know, this is what I've been longing for from services to have someone that really can understand COVID,” he says.
Other hospitals around the country are also implementing programs for people with long COVID. It’s recommended that patients suffering from lingering COVID symptoms ask their doctor about nearby programs.