By JAYSON DIMAANO
The East End Community Health Centre is starting a support program this week for people dealing with the long-term impacts of COVID-19.
Health professionals are still learning about the virus and its long-term side effects and symptoms.
The COVID-19 Support Group for People with Long-term Symptoms will begin its virtual program on Monday, Feb. 8. The virtual meetings will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Mondays until April 5.
“It is an eight-week group and it will provide educational components as well as mental health support,” said Marilyn VanDerKooi, mental health counsellor and part of the COVID-19 Case Management Program at the east end centre.
“We know there are longer lasting symptoms, which can vary from individual to individual. It certainly has an impact on their emotional health.”
VanDerKooi added that pain is often associated with a lower mood, and people are also feeling isolated and afraid of the unknown.
The goal of the support group is to connect individuals who are experiencing these long-term symptoms to decrease their isolation, increase their knowledge (in terms of their symptoms), and develop effective coping strategies.
The COVID-19 virus affects people differently, explained Barb Hood, a Nurse Practitioner at East End Community Health Centre.
“The COVID-19 virus attach themselves to these ACE2 receptors (enzymes attached to the cell membranes) and they are everywhere: in our brain, lungs, kidneys,” said Hood.
“For example, we’re seeing people with permanent kidney damage. I would say 90 per cent of people are feeling 100 per cent better at the 10 to 14 day mark. We touch base with people every couple days and that is part of the COVID Extension Project at Michael Garron Hospital.”
Those who are interested in registering for the support group can call or email Marilyn VanDerKooi at 416-778-5805 ext. 204 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She will send a Zoom link to the participants once registered.