Home Health COVID-19 Long-COVID treatment continues in BC

Long-COVID treatment continues in BC

Long-COVID referrals had dropped to 90% by 2022 year-end.

COVID-19, fatigue, young adult
Young adults can be sick for a long while with COVID-19, with fatigue that lasts a long while said Dr Henry in 2020.

Saturday April 22, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends

Five long-COVID treatment centres that opened during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic have seen diminished new patients. As such, the service is now through virtual access, with redirection to medical attention through an established network.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone, and the people of British Columbia have shown incredible resilience and dedication in their efforts to combat the virus,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry on April 6.

bonnie henry, pho, adrian dix
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the COVID spring booster program and lifting of mask mandates in health-care and long-term care, April 6, 2023 at the legislative press theatre in Victoria. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

“We’re learning as we go with this. There’s post-COVID syndrome that for some people is very debilitating and for some people lasts a long time,” Dr Henry said. She said there will continue to be long-COVID clinics — mostly virtual — which continue to provide therapy and support.

“Globally we’re working out the different types of long-COVID syndrome,” said BC’s top doctor. “We’re learning that vaccinations do make a big difference,” she said, adding that “we’ve seen less of (long-COVID) in the past year”.

“Most people get better over time, but they need to be supported,” said Dr Henry. She said that testing and supports will continue and be available around the province.

System-wide approach:

adrian dix, health minister, covid
Health Minister Adrian Dix says the long-COVID network will remain in place. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Minister Dix said the funding for the COVID support network has been made permanent. What changed in really a short period of time from Fall of 2022 to the announcement in 2023 was the number of people presenting to those clinics across the province.

There were only a few locations. The number of referrals went from about 750 down to 80, Dix said on April 6. So that sensibly leads to a “change in organizing the health care response”.

BC was the first province to put in a network of care around long-COVID, said Dix. It will continue to be in the health care system budget.

Care will be “organized centrally, which allows for delivery of care everywhere in the province”, he said today.

“There was some discussion around the existence of clinics and whether systems should stay the same,” said Minister Dix. “It obviously doesn’t stay the same when the number of new referrals drop by nearly 90 percent. But the care is there, and there’s continuing care to be provided to thousands of British Columbians through that network.”

dr bonnie henry
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry on April 6, 2023: COVID has not yet shown its full true colours. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

He said that for any system of care delivery to be effective it has to be effective everywhere “and has to be based on a strong primary care system and a strong team-based care across the province, supported by that network of expertise”.

“We’re learning more every single day (about the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on some people who are dealing with that). And so we want the best evidence and the best possible information available. That is what the core of what we do,” said Dix, confirming that the long-COVID network of care has become a permanent item in the health care budget.

Things that might stick:

Dr Henry hopes a few important things stick for people — like choosing to fist bump instead of shaking hands.

elbow bump, masks
Elbow bumps or fist bumps are alternatives to the traditional handshake.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says he hopes the many public health lessons learned in the past three years will remain active for British Columbians. Both he and Dr Henry emphasized staying home when feeling unwell and continuing to wash one’s hands.

As well as using one’s common sense about when to wear a mask, and for people to be patient and kind to others if people choose to wear a mask or be cautious about ventilation.

If people decide to stay away from small family gatherings or crowded events, she hopes that will ‘be okay’ now in a social-emotional sense. She called that a “key thing that we have in our control now as we go back to normal interactions in many different settings”.

She suggests staying away from people who are at greater risk of infection (like older seniors or people with compromised immune systems), but to make that okay between people.

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Afterall, COVID is here to stay. Dr Henry says the seasonality of the COVID-19 virus is still undetermined. It may come and go with the usual respiratory season (in which influenza and RSV are present — usually October through March each year), or it may emerge with a pattern of its own.

seaparc, golf, 2023

“Individuals who have not yet been vaccinated are at a higher risk of contracting and spreading infectious diseases and having a more severe illness with COVID-19. We strongly encourage all individuals to receive their primary series of vaccinations as soon as possible and to consider receiving a bivalent booster if they have not already done so,” it was stated by the Health Ministry today.

Looking to fall 2023:

“It’s important to recognize that COVID-19 is still with us, and as such, we must remain vigilant and continue surveillance to monitor the situation,” said Dr Henry today. “As we approach the next respiratory season, we will be prepared to consider measures that may be necessary to ensure the safe functioning of our health-care system, including potentially reinstating some of the current measures.”

Dr Henry has mentioned this before, but seems hopeful that a ‘pan vaccine’ — a product that would help a person’s immune system combat the presence of a range of viruses — will come at reasonable future time.

randall garrison, ad, 2021


Dr Henry hopes the fist bump sticks (April 6, 2023)

Provincial health officer’s, minister’s statement on end of respiratory season, spring COVID-19 boosters (April 6, 2023)

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Mary Brooke, editor, West Shore Voice News
Mary P Brooke, Editor and Publisher, Island Social Trends.

Mary P Brooke is the editor and publisher of Island Social Trends as published daily at islandsocialtrends.ca.

She has been covering politics, business, education and communities through a socioeconomic lens since 2008 on south Vancouver Island (previously as West Shore Voice News, and before that both Sooke Voice News and MapleLine Magazine).

Ms Brooke followed and wrote extensively about the COVID pandemic during 2020-2022, and continues to follow the topic as new developments arise.

Among other qualifications, Ms Brooke holds a health sciences B.Sc.