A new clinic has opened at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital to help South Australians experiencing long COVID receive specialised treatment.
The clinic provides rehabilitation for patients with suspected long COVID syndrome when symptoms have not resolved after 12 weeks.
What is long COVID?
While most people with COVID-19 recover completely within a few weeks, some can continue to experience symptoms for weeks or months after their diagnosis. This is called ‘long COVID’.
“We know that long COVID can present in a variety of ways and is often debilitating for those who suffer from it,” said Infectious Disease Physician, Dr Renjy Nelson.
Their symptoms can include:
- extreme fatigue (tiredness)
- shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration
- changes to taste and smell
- joint and muscle pain
The Central Adelaide Local Health Network’s infectious disease team collaborated with SA Pathology and the University of Adelaide to develop a clear pathway and treatment options for patients with long COVID.
According to Dr Renjy Nelson, between 10 and 20 percent of people who contract COVID-19 experience a range of ongoing symptoms after recovering from the initial symptoms of the virus.
“It has been particularly challenging for individuals who contracted COVID-19 early in the pandemic due to a lack of research and clinical data, however more is now known about how to best care for and treat people with the condition,” he said.
“Our long COVID clinic provides an expert triage service to patients to direct them to the most appropriate specialist care in a team of professionals from a broad range of medical fields.”
What is the long COVID clinic?
The team supporting the long COVID clinic come from specialties including cardiology, respiratory medicine, rheumatology, renal medicine, haematology, neurology, psychology, psychiatry, general medicine, immunology, rehabilitation medicine, and occupational therapy.
Patients with long COVID will require support from at least one, and often multiple, specialists in these areas.
“While some patients will need long term rehabilitation, the long COVID clinic will care for patients and support them to get to a stage where their condition can be successfully managed in a community care setting,” Dr Nelson said.
Along with clinical care, the long COVID clinic will be used as a diagnostic research tool with patients being monitored three years after they first access the clinic.
“We will continue to follow up with patients over three years; these patients have the opportunity to come back as symptoms fluctuate – depending on how they progress,” Dr Nelson said.
“Part of the program is to create a registry of patient outcome measures as it’s a condition that’s still evolving.”
More information and resources
For more information on access to the clinic, referral forms and other resources visit the Long COVID Clinic webpage.