VALHALLA, N.Y. – Death rates have understandably dominated the discussion about COVID-19’s severity, but the virus that has already killed more than 250,000 Americans has also sidelined many with months-long ailments.
Since their diagnosis, patients at Westchester Medical Center have reported experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of taste and smell, brain fog, headaches, fatigue, malaise, reduced kidney function, and hair loss. Even originally asymptomatic patients have felt these lingering effects long after the virus has left their system, said Dr. Carol Karmen, an internal medicine specialist and long-time Yorktown resident.
“During the time of the surge in patients that were infected with the virus, some recovered fully and some did not,” Karmen said, “and it didn’t seem to be related to how severe their initial illness was.”
With the virus affecting different people in different ways, seemingly at random, the medical center has launched a Post-COVID-19 Recovery Program that tailors treatment plans to the patient’s specific symptoms. The program provides patients with access to Westchester Medical Center doctors with expertise in lungs, heart, kidneys, radiology and mental and emotional health.
“Our practice is very well-suited for this because we are specialists in internal medicine, and this is really what we do,” Karmen said. “We have a patient navigator. The doctors will assess the patients and decide they need the following things. All patients accepted into the program have previously tested positive for the coronavirus.
“It’s an interesting thing, because it doesn’t seem to matter how sick the patient was with the initial illness,” Karmen reiterated.
The doctor has lived in Yorktown for about 30 years, all the while working at Westchester Medical Center.