New Richmond center helps COVID long-haulers recover

COVID-19 hospitalizations
Posted at 6:31 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 18:31:54-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Eric Bryant was one of the first people in the Richmond-area to test positive for COVID-19. More than a year later, Bryant said he still has lingering effects from the virus.

"The virus really did a number on my body," Bryant said. "Still have the shortness of breath. The brain fog here and there. So, my body is just totally different."

He also listed high blood pressure, seizures, and kidney issues as part of his post-COVID life.

Bryant is a coronavirus long-hauler.

While most people make a full recovery from the virus, there are some people who have never returned to their pre-virus selves.

VCU Health has opened the first of its kind treatment center for the Richmond-area, and only one of a few in the state, to help these long-haul sufferers. The center, located at VCU Health's Stony Point campus, brings together experts from different fields to help COVID patients.

"This has become a fairly prevalent issue," Dr. Ray Shepherd, Director of Interventional Pulmonology/Professor of Medicine at VCU Health, said. "

Dr. Shepherd said they consider long-haulers to be COVID patients 12-weeks out from their first diagnosis. He said the types of issues they face can be grouped as lung- or heart-related, neurological, or psychiatric.

He said while there are limited treatment options for long-COVID, he hoped while helping patients, doctors can add to research in the field to help determine why they get this, who's at risk for it, and what causes it.

Dr. Shepherd said, for now, the clinic was only open to patients within the VCU Health system, but they planned to open it up to other patients based on doctor referrals.

Bryant said he was doing what he could to get to where he was before the virus. He suggested people remain vigilant against the virus and necessary precautions.

"Even though they have relaxed certain measures across the nation we're still in a pandemic and people are still suffering," he said.