SAN ANTONIO – Experts say many people may not recognize the symptoms of long COVID, but that could change thanks to a $5 million grant awarded to UT Health San Antonio from the Health and Human Services Department.
Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, operates a long COVID clinic there offering assessments and treatments.
Using the grant from HHS, she hopes to expand that care, especially for those in rural communities.
A study from California found that many people don’t know they’re experiencing long COVID.
“They looked at farmworkers who had had COVID and it had been 61% of them were dealing with long COVID. And so, this is something that we can see even in our own populations who also do labor work,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.
She said some underserved communities might not know about the symptoms and it can be difficult to access the right kind of care.
“A lot of times they have to work, or it’s hard for them to get out of work to be able to get to a physician. So then already not getting physician care and then realizing that something’s going on or having to take time off work,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.
That’s where the grant money helps people living in South Texas.
UT Health San Antonio is the only place in Texas awarded this money.
Verduzco-Gutierrez hopes to educate more people about the symptoms that occur after a COVID infection, like lingering fatigue, shortness of breath and migraines.
“We still don’t have, you know, a magic pill that’s like, let’s reverse everything,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.
Over the next five years, the money will also be used to teach physicians how to better detect and treat long COVID.
“I hope for five years. We’re also, you know, referring patients to clinical trials and that there’s treatments for it that really help them,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.