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Some COVID-19 patients are, unfortunately, in it for the long haul

Baptist Health, other hospitals treating patients with coronavirus symptoms long after they test negative

As the push continues to get COVID-19 vaccines out, some people weeks -- even months -- after having the virus are still fighting the symptoms.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the push continues to get COVID-19 vaccines out, some people weeks -- even months -- after having the virus are still fighting the symptoms.

“I was not at a point in my life before COVID where I would like literally have to stop and catch my breath while I was doing things and now I find myself doing that,” said Danielle Register, who has been living with the results of COVID-19 for a long time.

Area hospitals have programs designed to help people with lingering COVID-19 symptoms even after they’ve tested negative. Such patients are known as COVID-19 long haulers.

Even after a near-deadly fight with COVID-19, Register and many others like her aren’t out of the woods yet.

“Even the doctors told me at that point, and before I left, that they didn’t think I was going to make it,” said Register.

Register tested positive in November, spent a week in the ICU at Baptist Health and had to go back to the hospital twice from lasting COVID complications.

Three weeks from her last negative COVID-19 test, she is fighting off symptoms.

“I still get the fog brain. I still have moments where I feel like I’m trying to catch my breath, I’m weak, sometimes fatigued, and muscle aches,” Register explained.

News4Jax reached out to Baptist to see what their post-COVID-19 services are for patients.

Chief Physician Executive Dr. Elizabeth Ransom said individual cases are handled by their primary care physicians and other specialists, but they are seeing more people with lingering symptoms.

“Most commonly for people who had long-term symptoms it’s they get the disease, they don’t feel great, they start to feel better, but never completely resolve,” said Ransom.

Though a small percentage of people have long-hauling symptoms, Ransom said they can range from lung damage, increased clotting, depression, and loss of taste and smell.

“Sometimes what we are seeing is patients, when they do start to get smell and taste back, it’s a little bit different than what it was before,” said Ransom.

Register said some days are better than others, and she can live with her residual effects, but she wants to see action concerning these cases.

“Those symptoms could potentially get worse and still cost a person their life. I think a little bit more emphasis needs to be put on that,” said Register.

Register said that includes everyone doing their part to slow the spread of the virus.

Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville sent News4Jax this statement about their post-COVID-19 services:

“The mission of our clinic is to provide diagnosis and specialized care for patients afflicted with post COVID-19 syndrome by inspiring hope, relieving suffering, and advancing the education and science of conditions unique to patients with post COVID-19 syndrome.

The treatment is multidisciplinary and coordinated through the department of General Internal Medicine. An initial visit is conducted by video to assess the patient’s current status, and gather the history of their illness. This informs the clinician which specialty the patient will then need further evaluation for such as pulmonology, cardiology, infectious diseases, physical medicine & rehabilitation, and if needed nephrology, hematology, psychiatry, PT/OT, speech pathology, ENT, or neuropsychology. Coordinated testing also includes chest x-ray (or CT scan), EKG, and pulmonary function testing along with laboratory workup.

Target patient population: Adult patients with history of COVID-19 who are at least 3 weeks out from COVID-19 infection, and who have ongoing symptoms since their COVID-19 diagnosis.

Timeline: We are actively scheduling patients in our practice.

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A Florida girl and North Carolina A&T SU grad who thrives in breaking news.