Surrey’s Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre is the site of one of three clinics now dedicated to help people in their post-COVID-19 recovery.
The other two clinics are at St. Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital.
Patients receive specialized care at these clinics through on-site and telephone appointments. It’s hoped they will also help specialists better understand the long-term adverse effects of COVID-19.
Dr. Sharry Kahlon is the medical director of the Surrey clinic, which opened on Jan. 18 and is currently open for half a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“We’ve seen eight patients this week, with plans to expand, increasing the number of days and clinic spots very shortly,” Kahlon said Friday. “All the general internal medicine specialists here at Surrey Memorial Hospital, myself included, will be running the clinic on different weeks.
“The goal is to have this became a multi-disciplinary clinic and we’re working on putting all those pieces in place right now,” she told the Now-Leader. “This is a very different illness – we’re learning in real time. We have seen after that first wave of the COVID pandemic that there are patients who struggle with symptoms after the illness is over, and recognize that they need help and they are looking for somewhere to provide them not only with medical management but education, further work-up, and also to be connected in a way that helps them manage their symptoms over the long term.”
Kahlon said Surrey is fortunate to have one of the three clinics. “As you’re probably aware, Fraser Health has a significant proportion of the COVID cases and in the community and in the hospitalizations there is likely going to be a large burden in what we call sort-of ‘long-hauler’ COVID patients.”
The clinic should help physicians get a good picture of what that burden looks like. Otherwise, she noted “We really won’t know what’s really out there.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix noted in a press release Friday that through the “dedication of a large team of experts and health leaders across the province, we are working to ensure that specialized care is available to British Columbians, when they need it.”
The three clinics are seeing COVID-19 patients who have been discharged from hospital or referred by doctors. Before the clinics opened, patients received specialized care through protocols established by Fraser Health Providence Health Care, the BC Centre for Disease Control, the Provincial Health Services Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health.
The press release notes that research is a “key component” of the network. The clinics have so far seen the “small percentage” of patients who’d been hospitalized with severe COVID-19, with one study revealing more than half of participating patients had abnormal breathing tests three months after they started feeling sick and CT scans revealed that one in five sustained scarred lungs, indicating “permanent damage that will lead to compromised lung function.”
Dr. Victoria Lee, president and CEO of Fraser Health, says doctors scientists are learning that “the long-term effects of COVID-19 impact people in many different ways.
“For this reason,” she said, “it is crucial that we work together to ensure our patients get the care they need to recover from this virus.”
The Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre is located at 9750 140th Street.