HONOLULU (KHON2) — Life before COVID-19 included many of Kevin Kondo’s hobbies.
“I was doing a lot of surfing, paddling and then when the pandemic first started, I thought, well I’ll be doing a lot of that, but it turned out differently,” said Kevin Kondo, an Oahu native who is suffering from long haul COVID-19.
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Shortness of breathe, fatigue and brain fog after he had already caught the virus caught him by surprise.
“I thought that I just was getting old faster. On one hand, I was relieved that it wasn’t early dementia. Then I was kind of worried because nobody knew how they’re going to deal with the long COVID.”
The Oahu man is not alone.
“We see this as the next epidemic besides the COVID infection itself,” said Dr. Dominic Chow, Queen’s Health Systems medical director.
The Queen’s Post COVID Care Clinic has helped over 100 long haulers since December.
“The symptoms can be persistent shortness of breath, fatigue, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, depression and brain fog,” said Dr. Fritzie Igno, a Queen’s Health Systems medical director. “Those are the most common symptoms or complaints our patients talk to us about.”
The clinic is expanding to meet the increase in demand. There are currently 30 patients waiting to secure appointments. Queen’s said it is all hands on deck.
“We have cardiologists, pulmonologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, all dealing with in trying to help the patient recover,” Dr. Chow said.
Patients need a referral from their doctor to get an appointment, and visits can be up to two hours long for testing.
“There are studies out there that says it may be permanent for some patients,” Dr. Igno said.
“By preventing this from happening in the first place, we could certainly hopefully see less of these individuals who are suffering in our clinic,” said Dr. Chow.
Kondo is looking forward to his first appointment with the clinic after three months of waiting. His message to others: do not wait to take COVID seriously.
“They think it’s just like having the flu, and then later on when the long COVID symptoms surface, then they realize it, but then it’s too late,” Kondo said.
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The Queen’s Post COVID Care clinic is now open Monday through Friday. For more information about Queen’s Post COVID Care Clinic, click here.