RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - VCU Health announced a new COVID-19 clinic for patients with chronic symptoms will be opening on Thursday.
The clinic will be Richmond’s first dedicated clinic and one of three available throughout Virginia. The other two clinics are located in Ballad Health and UVA Health.
Dr. Ray Shepherd, director of interventional pulmonology at VCU Health, led the creation of the clinic. Dr. Shepherd says this clinic will benefit patients experiencing COVID-19 symptoms lasting weeks and months beyond their diagnosis.
“As the pandemic has rolled on and on, we have seen around the globe, many patients who’ve had prolonged symptoms lasting many weeks and now many months,” he said. “You didn’t have to be very sick or seriously ill when you had COVID to get long COVID. In fact, we’ve seen the opposite in many patients. Patients who had a mild illness or were never hospitalized who subsequently go on to develop it.”
The clinic will open to:
- Existing VCU Health patients who have tested positive for COVID-19
- Have experienced symptoms for more than 12 weeks after being diagnosed
- Patients experiencing non-COVID-related issues that stem from lung damage, chronic cough, brain fog, decreased alertness and abnormal heartbeat
Dr. Shepherd says the clinic will house specialists from different field to tackle symptoms related to the heart, lungs and nervous system.
“Common pulmonary symptoms are things like mild symptoms such as loss of smell, which is common, shortness of breath, chest discomfort. Heart symptoms can be chest pain, abnormal heart rhythms, palpitations,” said Dr. Shepherd. “The neurologic symptoms have been the most variable with symptoms of brain fog, confusion, memory impairment, weakness, chronic fatigue.”
The clinic will also have a psychiatrist to help patients with anxiety and depression as doctors continue their research to answer the questions about COVID long-haulers.
“Who’s at risk for getting long COVID? What are the mechanisms? What’s the expected outcome duration? And ultimately, how to treat it,” Dr. Shepherd said.
The clinic will be located on VCU Health’s Stony Point Campus in Richmond and will be open only to VCU Health patients by referral.
Existing VCU Health patients should speak to their care team if they are experiencing chronic symptoms from COVID-19.
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