'We know this is real': New clinics aid virus 'long-haulers'

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Dr. Alan Roth talks to reporters at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. Dozens of clinics have cropped up around the U.S. to address a puzzling and troubling aspect of COVID-19 the after-effects that can stubbornly afflict some people weeks or months after the infection itself has subsided. We know this is real, said Roth, who oversees the Jamaica Hospital clinic. He has been grappling with body pain, fatigue and brain fog characterized by occasional forgetfulness since his own relatively mild bout with COVID-19 in March. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK – COVID-19 came early for Catherine Busa, and it never really left.

The 54-year-old New York City school secretary didn’t have any underlying health problems when she caught the coronavirus in March, and she recovered at her Queens home.

But some symptoms lingered: fatigue she never experienced during years of rising at 5 a.m. for work; pain, especially in her hands and wrists; an altered sense of taste and smell that made food unappealing; and a welling depression. After eights months of suffering, she made her way to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center — to a clinic specifically for post-COVID-19 care.

“I felt myself in kind of a hole, and I couldn’t look on the bright side,” Busa said. She did not feel helped by visits to other doctors. But it was different at the clinic.

“They validated the way I felt,” she said. “That has helped me push through everything I’m fighting.”

The clinic is one of dozens of such facilities that have cropped up around the U.S. to address a puzzling aspect of COVID-19 — the effects that can stubbornly afflict some people weeks or months after the infection itself has subsided.

The programs' approaches vary, but they share the goal of trying to comprehend, treat and give credence to patients who cannot get free of the virus that has infected more than 24 million Americans and killed about 400,000.

“We know this is real,” said Dr. Alan Roth, who oversees the Jamaica Hospital clinic. He has been grappling with body pain, fatigue and “brain fog” characterized by occasional forgetfulness since his own relatively mild bout with COVID-19 in March.