SAN ANTONIO – Long COVID has become a more common term as people worldwide who had mild to severe COVID-19 have had strange symptoms that linger for months or even years.
The long waitlists at the two San Antonio long COVID clinics show how many people are actually experiencing it.
“I was in bed for a full two weeks,” said Cassaronda Schneider.
She got COVID-19 in January and never fully recovered.
“My lungs felt like they really took a hit, and the other part was the extreme fatigue. The brain fog, the cognitive issues, I would have to say, ranked top two. Migraines increased in intensity and duration. I have fevers, chills just randomly. I’ve had burning sensations. It’s the weirdest thing,” she said.
Schneider thought she was losing her mind until she heard about long COVID and learned there are two long COVID clinics in San Antonio. One is run by UT Health San Antonio and the other by University Health.
“Studies show there are 200 types of symptoms that people can have,” said Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, a professor and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at UT Health San Antonio and medical director of Rehabilitation Medicine Services at University Health.
Verduzco-Gutierrez oversees both long COVID clinics, which have seen almost 600 patients so far.
“I called, and they told me it was a six-month waitlist. It was like a punch to the gut,” Schneider said.
Verduzco-Gutierrez said she’s working hard to help more patients.
“Nationally, we’re trying to get our legislators to pass types of bills that will support more long COVID clinics. There’s also only so many doctors we have that can treat this,” she said.
That’s why Verduzco-Gutierrez is also working alongside colleagues with The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R).
They are publishing papers with protocol templates to teach primary care doctors what to look for and how to treat symptoms of long COVID.
Verduzco-Gutierrez has already published papers on managing symptoms like fatigue, respiratory issues, and cognitive issues. She is still working on others on cardiac symptoms and mental health stemming from COVID-19.
“Do the right workups and treatments so people can get this care from their primary care doctor,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.
“When they see a patient like me come into their clinic, they don’t automatically think, ‘Oh, she’s losing her marbles.’ They’ll take it a little more serious. They’ll know what tests to run and know where to refer me to, and that would be so helpful,” Schneider said.
Schneider said the effort being made will hopefully give patients like her more clarity and hope.
If you believe you have long COVID and want to contact the clinics, see below for their information.
- University Health clinic: (210) 743-7192
- UT Health San Antonio clinic: (210) 450-6470
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