Three new clinics to open in Vancouver, Surrey for COVID-19 long-haulers

Amy Judd

Three new clinics are set to open in Vancouver and Surrey for British Columbians suffering from long-term effects of COVID-19.

The clinics will open at St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital, and the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey.

In addition to providing care for those suffering from lingering effects of the virus, the Provincial Health Services Authority said Friday that it will be developing knowledge and best practices for dealing with long-haul patients.

COVID-19 long-haulers are patients who have contracted the virus but continue to live with chronic symptoms months after tests reveal they’re virus-free.

“We know some people who recover from COVID-19 experience long-term health effects,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a release. “Through the dedication of a large team of experts and health leaders across the province, we are working to ensure that specialized care is available to British Columbians, when they need it.”

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The clinics will be staffed with specialists and health professionals with an extensive knowledge of the virus long-haulers, the province said.

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The St. Paul’s clinic has already seen more than 160 post-COVID-19 patients, the province said.

“We want patients to feel like they are not alone,” physician lead and internist Dr. Jesse Grenier said in a release.

“We are here. We’re listening. With patient partners, researchers, specialists, and primary care physicians across many health authorities, we are working together to learn from and support one another to ensure that patients get the care they need.”

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Three long-hauler clinics are also set to open in Alberta — two in Calgary and one in Edmonton.

Prior to the opening of these new clinics, the long-hauler patients were receiving care from a team of experts from Fraser Health, Providence Health Care, VCH, BC Centre for Disease Control, PHSA and several others.

An early study of COVID-19 long-haulers in B.C. showed more than half of participants had abnormal breathing tests three months after they first started feeling sick with COVID-19. Further examination with CT scans showed one in five had lung scarring, which is permanent damage that will lead to compromised lung function.

“COVID-19 presents a special opportunity for research — we are leveraging the unprecedented focus on a single threat to bring together investigators and patients, who would otherwise be isolated, to create and mobilize new insights to benefit our community and beyond,” Dr. Chris Carlsten, Vancouver Coastal Health Scientific Director of Legacy for Airway Health and professor of medicine and head of the division of respiratory medicine at UBC, said in a release.

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