UT Health San Antonio uses grant to expand long COVID care for rural patients in South Texas

San Antonio – Experts say many people can’t recognize long-term COVID symptoms, but that’s about to change thanks to a $5 million grant awarded to UT Health San Antonio from the Department of Health and Human Services Could.

Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, MD, professor and chair of the department of rehabilitation medicine at UT Health San Antonio, operates two long COVID clinics in San Antonio, offering evaluation and treatment.

Using a grant from HHS, she hopes to expand that care, especially to rural communities.

A California study found that many people don’t know they’re experiencing long-term COVID.

“They looked at farmworkers who had COVID and 61% of them were battling COVID for a long time. And so, this is something that we also see in our population that also does labor work,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.

She said some disadvantaged communities may not be aware of the symptoms and may find it difficult to get the right kind of care.

“Sometimes they have to work, or it’s hard for them to get off work to go see a therapist. Then already not getting medical care and then realizing something is going on or having to take time off work,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.

This is where grant money helps people living in South Texas.

UT Health San Antonio is the only location in Texas awarded this funding.

Verduzco-Gutierrez hopes to educate more people about the symptoms that can occur after a COVID infection, such as prolonged fatigue, shortness of breath and migraines.

“We still don’t have a magic bullet, let’s reverse everything,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.

Over the next five years, the money will also be used to teach physicians how to better detect and treat long-term COVID.

“I hope for five years. You know, we’re also referring patients to clinical trials to find treatments that really help them,” Verduzco-Gutierrez said.

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