POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – You won’t hear “just wait it out” or “you may be imagining it,” at a new clinic in Lakeland designed to address any and all symptoms that linger after a coronavirus diagnosis.
“My very first patient had very severe lung damage from COVID,” said Dr. Kathleen Haggerty, an internal medicine specialist at Watson Clinic. “She is now not using oxygen during the day, just wearing it for safety at night. She has gotten a lot better.”
Dr. Haggerty has been treating stubborn coronavirus symptoms for the last few months. She started paying attention to this unique quirk back when Italy was the global COVID-19 hotspot in March.
“In the Italian paper, they said 55% of people were still having more than three symptoms after a month and that is an incredible burden of illness,” she said.
Dr. Haggerty began coordinating with other clinics around the country, including ones in New York City and Baltimore, to find a way to treat patients long after they tested negative.
Some patients were suffering from lung damage, extreme fatigue, heart problems, liver problems, kidney problems, blood clots, etc.
“Usually after something like influenza, you’ll get over it and you’ll be better in a couple of weeks but not necessarily from COVID,” she said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is still studying the short and long-term health effects of COVID-19.
“As the pandemic unfolds, we are learning that many organs besides the lungs are affected by COVID-19 and there are many ways the infection can affect someone’s health,” the CDC website reads.
The comprehensive, no holds barred approach now available at Watson Clinic allows Dr. Haggerty to use any test or exam necessary to get to the bottom of the symptom.
“We have found a good number of things that are wrong in different systems and we’re doing the right testing because we’re finding problems that apparently other people that have said ‘there’s nothing wrong with you, I can’t help you,’ haven’t found,” she said.
Diagnostic methods may include lab tests, radiology evaluations, pulmonary function tests, and additional tests designed to diagnose issues related to depression, cognitive ability, physical maladies, nutritional deficiencies and neurological disorders.
“You feel this. You’re not making it up and we’re going to treat it very seriously because there is nothing about staying home and being miserable that you want,” said Dr. Haggerty.
For more information and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Haggerty, call 863-680-7190 or visit the Watson Clinic’s website.