The MediSys Health Network is opening a Post-COVID Care Center on Thursday, Sept. 24, in Hollis Tudor, where patients — referred to as “long haulers” — as well as others experiencing long-term effects of the coronavirus can receive specialized care from a multidisciplinary group of qualified physicians.
The MediSys Health Network comprises Jamaica and Flushing Hospital Medical Center, the Trump Pavilion for Nursing and Rehabilitation, and a network of community-based MediSys ambulatory care centers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the MediSys Hollis Tudor clinic, located at 200-16 Ave. in St. Alban’s, served as a specialized acute illness site where doctors doctors saw patients who had COVID symptoms, according to Dr. Alan Roth, chairman of Ambulatory Care and Family Medicine at Jamaica Hospital.
Amid the early stages of the pandemic, most health authorities were operating under the belief that the virus, while extremely dangerous for some, was a short-term illness. Most young, healthy individuals who tested positive for the virus were told to expect to sustain a variety of symptoms that could last anywhere from two to six weeks.
However, doctors are now seeing a growing number of patients who are enduring lingering symptoms for an extended period of time.
“People have a vast array of symptoms — some of them are very generalized like fatigue, body pain and others became more specific such as loss of smell or taste, cough, shortness of breath, and then we’re seeing neurological changes like decrease of concentration, stability to think through things, especially in naming things,” said Roth, who also became sick with the virus.
According to Roth, other patients, or “long haulers,” may also experience mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, lack of motivation and sleeping problems.
Some of the most common lingering symptoms include fatigue, muscle and body pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches.
For Dr. Marwa Eldik, a resident and patient who contracted the virus at the end of March, some of those symptoms that have continued include shortness of breath, fatigue, and loss of taste and smell, she said.
Eldik was quarantined for two weeks and returned to work a week before the peak of the pandemic.
“I had a very strong support in getting through a lot of the emotional things that are attached to still having these symptoms,” Eldik said. “I think the post-COVID clinic is such a great resource for people who do have long haulers syndrome to be able to have access to teams that dedicate their time and resources to making sure that all of these issues — whether it be mental health or physical symptoms get addressed.”
For patients who are not reaching out and accessing care, according to Roth, it may be a result of other people’s responses stating that they may just be depressed, are working extensive hours or it may not be related to COVID at all.
“I had COVID and we were working 24 hours a day seven days a week and we were stuck in a fog going through the days, and it wasn’t until things settled down in the last month or two that we all realized how bad we felt both physically and mentally,” Roth said. “It wasn’t first recognized and that’s why you’re hearing about this term ‘long hauler’ now.”
The MediSys Health Network’s post-COVID care center will provide patients with personalized, comprehensive care, coordinated by a primary care physician, who will work with other on-site specialists that includes pulmonologists, neurologists and psychiatrists — all dedicated to helping patients better their condition.
“Queens was considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in March and April. During that time we treated thousands of patients. While the situation in our community has greatly improved recently, we know that there is still work to be done, including continuing to treat patients living with long-term symptoms,” Roth said.
To schedule an appointment at the Post-COVID Care Center, call 718-736-8204.