RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The COVID-19 pandemic is slowly coming to a close, but for about one-third of people who had the virus, symptoms still persist more than 12 weeks later.
“They’ll have fatigue, headaches, attention issues or brain fog,” said Dr. Peter Jackson, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at VCU Health.
Jackson said there have been 55 reported chronic COVID symptoms.
He is one of the founders of a new clinic on VCU’s Stony Point campus aimed specifically at helping COVID “long haulers.”
“The clinic was really developed because we realized there was a large need with our patients here in Central Virginia,” Jackson told 8News.
The clinic is one of just three of its kind in the state and the first in the Richmond area. It includes a team of doctors from VCU’s Neurology, Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care, Cardiology and Internal Medicine Departments.
Patients who are referred to the clinic can expect to give a history of their illness, undergo multiple tests and fill out questionnaires. Dr. Jackson said there is still a lot that is unknown about long COVID.
“As, hopefully, they’re learning from us and we’re making sure to address their symptoms and get them better, we’re going to be learning from our patients,” he explained.
Every patient’s treatment will look different, according to Jackson, but he said one thing that is proving to help people with persistent symptoms is getting the COVID vaccine.
The long-term symptoms with little answers can be frustrating.
“Patients are really struggling to feel like their symptoms are acknowledged and heard,” Jackson said, “We’re also hoping to serve as a place where they feel like they can voice those symptoms and work with us to try to get to the bottom of it.”
Patients must be referred to the VCU Health Long COVID-19 Clinic by their primary care doctor. Currently, the clinic is only open to current VCU Health patients, but they hope to expand to those outside of VCU Health in the future.