Post-COVID recovery clinics in Medical Center area treating patients with long-term virus effects

It could take about a month to get an appointment at post-COVID recovery clinics

SAN ANTONIO – Two post-COVID recovery clinics opened in the Medical Center area to care for patients whose body has taken a toll physically and mentally after contracting the virus.

The clinic at the UT Health Medical Arts and Research Center opened in August, and the clinic at University Hospital opened in September.

“No two patients are the same. Everyone had a different course, and it doesn’t matter if you were the sickest person in the ICU or you just had a little bit of symptoms at home. Either of those patients can be affected with long term COVID symptoms,” said Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, director of post-COVID recovery clinic at University Hospital.

Verduzco-Gutierrez said since opening a few months ago, the clinic has already seen more than 100 patients.

While the number of COVID-19 cases has grown, so has the waiting list. There is now about a month-long wait for an appointment.

“There’s a lot of patients that want to come in and want to be seen, and then there’s only so many staff that we have to see the patients,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.

She said lung damage could have a long-term effect on some COVID-19 patients.

“You can do pulmonary function tests and know how their lungs were affected with scans. And then there’s ones that kind of have another avenue of, you know, there’s tingling, there’s brain fog, there’s pain and numbness, and their heart rate’s very erratic, and they can’t sleep,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.

Some patients are dealing with depression and are filled with worries about testing positive a second time.

“Some fear of getting it again. There is fear of what’s going to happen long term because I’ve had it. There’s also, other than fear, their sadness that their life has changed. A lot of them, they’ve lost family members too from COVID,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.

Each patient at the clinic is walked through the process of recovery, and each treatment is tracked.

Researchers hope to publish the data collected from the clinic to help others as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

As cases continue to climb, Verduzco-Gutierrez said now is not time to let your guard down.

“We’re almost where a lot of people can start getting vaccines by next year, and so we need to continue the social distancing, continue the mask-wearing and the hand hygiene,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.

About the Authors:

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.