No plans for dedicated long COVID clinic: Shared Health
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As research continues into the widespread implications of long COVID, there are no current plans to establish a dedicated clinic in Manitoba.
Long-haulers in Manitoba should continue to consult their family doctors or primary health-care providers and ask about receiving referrals to specialists, Shared Health stated when asked if a centralized long COVID clinic is under consideration.
“There are not currently any plans to establish a dedicated long COVID clinic in Manitoba beyond the multi-disciplinary clinics that already exist. However, clinical leaders are continually assessing what services are appropriate and required as our knowledge about post-COVID-19 conditions continues to grow.”
Roger Chouinard of Winnipeg has had post-COVID symptoms, including heart and lung problems, for more than a year, and is only now on the road to getting the needed tests and specialized treatment.
“I’m still not able to work after 13 months, so the idea of a long COVID clinic here in Manitoba, anywhere in Manitoba, would have been very beneficial. It’s something that i would have driven anywhere to (get to),” he said.
Chouinard switched doctors because he felt his previous general practitioner either didn’t believe in long COVID or didn’t know what to do about it. He’s now enrolled in a pulmonary rehab program and is awaiting an appointment with a cardiologist.
The idea of a centralized clinic with multiple specialists seems easier to navigate than the current network of providers, Chouinard said.
“I think a lot of us are having to do this on our own because the doctors are too busy or they just don’t know where to go next, that’s the impression I get,” he said. “I’m not blaming the doctors, God bless, they’re all doing what they can. It’s just it’s frustrating for people like myself to not get the answers that we need.”
A glimpse at those answers may appear in the fall, when preliminary results may be released as part of a University of Manitoba study into the prevalence of long COVID. Alan Katz, senior research scientist at the U of M’s Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, said Wednesday he and his team may have early results by then.
They’re analyzing provincial health data and clinical notes from March 2020 to December 2021 to find out how many Manitobans have sought medical help for long-term COVID-19 symptoms. Last week, the team launched an online survey to get feedback directly from Manitobans who’ve had COVID-19 — including those who are still dealing with lasting health effects.
“We think there are a lot of people who’ve got long COVID who have never seen a health-care provider who provides data through the system,” Katz said. “So this is an attempt to reach out to the general public.”
More than 500 people have responded to the survey so far (www.mblongcovid.ca). Katz is hoping at least 4,000 Manitobans will participate to give the researchers better data.
The research aims to determine how common long COVID is in Manitoba and establish common experiences among people who have it.
“We will share that with Shared Health and, hopefully, they will, from the information we share, be able to deliver policy or programs that meet the needs of the population,” Katz said.
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.