Post-COVID clinic planned for Montreal to study long-term effects of disease on patients
MONTREAL -- There will soon be a light shone on the health challenges of a group of recovering COVID-19 patients in Montreal, known as ‘long-haulers’.
In the next few weeks, a researcher plans to open a post-COVID clinic that will start by seeing a small cohort of patients before ramping up to a larger opening in January, CTV has learned.
The goal is to study the long-term effects of the still novel COVID-19 illness, to better understand the disease itself.
Some scientists and clinicians in other parts of Canada and the U.S. have already set out in this direction, setting up clinics in cities like Vancouver and New York.
The Montreal team is still finalizing its plans but will eventually release more details about how the clinic and study will run, according to someone closely associated with the project.
How will patients be recruited, how many will have access to the clinic and what services will be offered? Those are just a few of the questions some people in COVID-recovery mode are asking, as they hail the news.
“I would love to see a post-COVID clinic set up here in Montreal,” said Jodi Fellner who tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-March and has been plagued by troubling health problems ever since.
The Dollard-des-Ormeaux resident points to daily case numbers in Quebec that have spiralled upwards for a second time, noting every positive test result has a person and story attached.
That number is now up to more than 120,000 people in Quebec so far.
“I don’t have the stats but it seems probably the biggest group has no symptoms or mild symptoms. Then there’s the group that’s hospitalized and unfortunately die of it,” said Fellner.
“Finally there are the people somewhere in the middle who are kind of lost.” A fellow sufferer described them, she said, as “alive, but broken.”
Somehow, 30-year-old paramedic Rachelle Aubichon never imagined it could happen to her.
Athletic and driven, Aubichon was used to bounding up four flights of stairs with all her gear, in full uniform and mask. No problem.
But she was suddenly walloped by fatigue and fever on March 28. When her Urgences-Sante COVID-19 test came back positive, she was floored.
“I knew I was young, I knew I would get through this, but I didn’t know how long this was going to affect me,” she said.
As the illness ran its course, she returned to the same thoughts day after day.
“How’s this going to go?” she thought. "Am I going to be okay?”
Progress is still painfully slow. Seven months in and Aubichon said she only has 80 per cent of her health back and struggles with her stamina.
“When you have COVID-19 you feel like you’re being blocked.”