LONG COVID PATIENTS COMPETE WITH OTHERS WHO NEED CARE FOR CANCER, HEART ATTACKS & STROKES: CMAJ STUDY

Oct 18, 2022

By Jane Brown

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Long COVID does not just affect the small proportion of Ontarians who contracted the virus early in the pandemic, it affects everyone in the province who needs healthcare.

A health-care worker wearing PPE transports a patient in the dialysis unit at the Humber River Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic last December. 

New research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found those who now have long COVID require significantly increased doctor visits, home care needs and hospitalizations.

Dr. Clare Atzema is an emergency physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and co-author of the research.

She says they found that a minority of patients who catch acute COVID go on to get long COVID, but the other problem is that all Ontario residents are going to be affected.

“So if you need to access healthcare because it’s such a scarce resource right now,” Atzema explained to CP24, “Fighting with these other patients to try and see your family doctor, for hospital beds, for other resources that are really in high demand right now. So I think everyone is going to be affected in some way if you need to use the healthcare system.”

Dr. Atzema says this does not bode well for a health-care system slammed by an Omicron surge earlier this year and now bracing for an expected fall-winter wave.

And she says there is particular concern around providing care for those with cancer, heart attacks and who’ve had strokes.

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