New program aims to help rural patients dealing with long COVID

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Some people who have had COVID-19 are finding their symptoms are lasting weeks or months.

The condition is called long COVID and, as COVID-19 cases rise in New Mexico, UNMH doctors are seeing more patients dealing with long COVID.

"One of the symptoms that is the most common is fatigue and shortness of breath with exertion or when people are trying to be active," said Dr. Alisha Parada, UNMH’s chief of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics.

Dr. Parada is one of the leads with UNM Health Science Center’s Project Echo. Project Echo is now holding weekly virtual sessions for healthcare providers across the state to give information on how they can help patients dealing with long COVID.

The project is especially focused on rural areas so people can stay close to home.

"Because of space and staffing, we’re not able to accommodate everyone," Dr. Parada said. "With the rural nature of our state, Project ECHO is really helpful in getting the word out without having the patients coming all the way to Albuquerque."

Specialists will talk about what they’ve seen with long COVID and how to best treat patients.

"Specifically with diabetes, we know that COVID can actually cause diabetes to worsen so people aren’t able to control their blood sugar as much," Dr. Parada said.

According to Dr. Parada, this is still new territory and doctors are still learning about the long-term effects of COVID. For now, this project is a good way to gather information and help.