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Recovered COVID-19 Patients Battling Long-Term Health Effects

November 19th, 2020
Doctor and stethoscope

COVID-19 has impacted tens of thousands of Long Islanders, and many who have recovered from the virus are now combatting a variety of lingering health issues as a result.

Known as “long-haulers” these individuals are living with the chronic effects of the virus that can include organ damage, poor lung function, fatigue, muscle aches, cognitive slowing and headaches. Also, long-haulers still exhibit various symptoms of COVID even after testing negative for the virus.

“The long-lasting health effects of COVID-19 could affect anyone at any age, but appears to be more likely with those over the age of 50,” said Director of Infectious Disease at Catholic Health Service’s (CHS) St. Francis Hospital Alan M. Bulbin, M.D. “Those with other comorbidities, chronic illnesses or those who have had a more serious acute infection are also more likely to be impacted. But we have also seen younger patients show long-term health impacts after recovering from the virus.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is actively working to learn more about the range of short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19. CDC officials said continued research is revealing that many organs, including the lungs and heart, are impacted by the virus.

Dr. Bulbin recommends that medical treatment for long-haulers should be managed by an individual’s primary care physician. He said the challenge currently facing doctors in treating those with long-lasting health results from COVID-19 is identifying the proper treatment regimen.

To help those dealing with long-term health effects of COVID-19, CHS’s St. Charles Hospital now offers a Post-COVID Outpatient Rehabilitation Program. Patients who are at least 14 days past a COVID-19 diagnosis are provided medically-supervised physical therapy for endurance training, strength training and education.

Recognizing a need to develop a program specifically for patients who are dealing with the after-effects of COVID-19, the medical team at St. Charles used their experience in working with patients who have respiratory illnesses such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

For additional information on the Post-COVID Outpatient Rehabilitation Program or to schedule an appointment please call (631) 474-6111.