Post-Acute & Long COVID Clinic
Long COVID Clinic: Please note, we are contending with significant demand, and are progressing referrals as fast as possible.
What is Long-COVID?
The Post COVID condition or "Long-COVID" is the persistence of new or unexplained symptoms and signs that last for more than 12 weeks after the initial COVID-19 infection (caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus).
The symptoms of Long COVID may affect one or several parts of the body and may vary in severity from being hardly noticeable to impacting daily activities. Some symptoms are more severe in people sick with acute COVID disease. However, Long COVID can still occur in people who did not require hospitalisation with acute COVID and those vaccinated against COVID-19.
There is not one specific test for Long COVID, and the diagnosis requires an expert assessment from a health care professional such as a Physician or General Practitioner.
For more information, please read the WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Post COVID 19 condition page and watch the short "What are common Long COVID symptoms" video.
What are the symptoms of Long COVID?
Common symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- "Brain fog" or difficulty thinking clearly
- Loss of smell or taste
- Hair loss
- Poor concentration
- Sleep disturbance
- Heart palpitations (racing heartbeat)
- Reduced exercise tolerance
For most people, the symptoms of Long COVID will improve with time. However, the path to recovery may be slow, and some factors can make the journey even longer if not identified and treated.
There are practical and valuable management strategies that many have found helpful in returning to their life "pre-COVID".
Each person is different, so your recovery journey post-COVID requires a personalised approach. Recovery takes time, so we encourage you to use the self-management resources and complete all the pre-clinic assessments before your first appointment with the Long COVID service.
What should I do if I experience these symptoms?
Your GP should first see you. Then, based on your symptoms and your initial assessment, your GP may request investigations to help explain the symptoms you are experiencing.
You will require a current GP or specialist medical practitioner referral to the St Vincent's Long COVID Clinic.
You cannot be referred directly to our clinic as soon as you contract COVID-19 because most people's symptoms will slowly improve and resolve in the first month or two after COVID-19.
We do not accept Long COVID referrals earlier than twelve weeks from the date of your initial infection by COVID-19.
Please be aware that due to a large number of affected patients and limited available resources, we may not be able to see everyone referred to the St Vincent's Long-COVID Clinic. However, your GP can also refer you to the appropriate local specialist using their Health Pathway.
How can I manage Long COVID?
Resources are available to assist you with managing your physical and emotional recovery. Please refer to the resources below from the WHO (outlining physical, aerobic, and breathing exercises), the NHS (outlining brain fog, body aches and other symptoms), and the Lung Foundation of Australia.
What is the St Vincent’s Long COVID Clinic?
The St Vincent's Long COVID clinic is a multi-disciplinary specialist medical and allied health outpatient service to diagnose and manage symptoms of Long COVID in adult patients over the age of 16 years and living in Sydney.
The service includes:
- Associate Professor Anthony Byrne - Respiratory Physician
- Professor Steven Faux - Rehabilitation Physician
- Ellie Asgary - Clinical Nurse Consultant and Care Coordinator
- Dr Emma Stumbles
- Dr Morgan Hee
- Dr Jayne Wheatley - Clinical Psychologist
Associate Professor Anthony Byrne leads the Long COVID Respiratory Clinic on Mondays.
Professor Steven Faux leads the Long COVID Rehabilitation Clinic on Wednesdays.
What is rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation is a set of interventions designed to optimise functioning, health and wellbeing and reduce disability in people with health conditions in interaction with their environment (WHO). Following COVID, rehabilitation may include providing information, education, supported self-management, peer support, symptom management strategies and physical rehabilitation.
Our Long COVID clinic uses a multi-disciplinary approach to guide the rehabilitation process, containing a physical and psychological aspect of management. It includes:
- Making goals for the patients' rehabilitation based on an assessment that may lead to further investigations
- Assisting patients and giving guidance toward their recovery
- Helping patients and guiding them if their symptoms fluctuate.
What happens during my Long COVID Clinic appointment?
Long COVID Respiratory Clinic
First, you will have your observations assessed. Then you will have a Lung Function Test (LFT), which may take up to 40 minutes. Please wear comfortable clothing and bring your respiratory inhaler if you have one.
You do not need to withhold any respiratory inhaler on the day of your appointment. Following your test, a Respiratory Physician will review your results.
Your appointment may take up to two hours.
Long COVID Rehabilitation Clinic
To begin, you will have your observation checked. Then a Clinical Nurse Consultant and a Rehabilitation Physician will review your HOPE Survey (rehabilitation screening tool).
What happens after my Long COVID Clinic appointment?
There is a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meeting every Thursday for all patients reviewed during the week. The session includes two respiratory physicians, two rehab physicians, a psychologist, a physiotherapist, and a clinical nurse consultant.
This MDT meeting aims to discuss patients' conditions and diagnoses to facilitate and create a management plan. In addition, patients may require further investigations or reviews by other health professionals or specialties, who may or may not be part of our healthcare team.
How do I prepare for my clinic appointment?
You will need to have the following completed before your Long COVID Clinic appointment:
- The required blood tests - ordered by GP
- A Chest X-ray - ordered by GP
- HOPE Rehabilitation Screening Tool - you will receive a text message with the link to the tool up to one week before your appointment.
We may need to contact you to obtain further information to proceed with your booking for the appropriate clinic.
You will receive a text message with your booking information.
Where is the St Vincent's Long COVID Clinic located?
The St Vincent's Long COVID Clinic is on level 3 (entry-level) of the hospital in the St Vincent's Public Hospital Outpatient Clinic.
The St Vincent's Public Hospital's address is 390 Victoria St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010.
Information for referring physicians
Please refer to the Clinical Practice Guide for Assessment and Management of Adults with Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 published by the NSW Agency of Clinical Innovation.
Patients referred to the St Vincent’s Long COVID Clinic must be aged over 16 years.
In addition to the St Vincent's Long COVID Clinic, clinicians can refer patients to their local follow-up services using the Post COVID-19 Conditions Health Pathway.
General Practitioners are encouraged to lead investigations outlined on this page (CXR and blood tests) for high-risk patients before 12 weeks following their initial COVID infection.
Those at higher risk of developing Long COVID include patients with the following:
- Very severe symptoms that persist after 28 days from initial infection
- Those that required hospital admission or ED presentation
- Unvaccinated (for COVID-19) individuals
- People with greater than five symptoms at the time of the initial COVID infection
For information about how to treat Long COVID, please read "How to Treat Long COVID" written by Prof Anthony Byrne, Dr Emma Stumbles, Prof Steven Faux, and Dr Morgan Lee.
How to refer
- All referrals to the St Vincent’s Long COVID Clinic MUST include the patient's phone number and email address
- Please email all referrals to firstname.lastname@example.org
- A Chest X-Ray and the following blood tests are required:
- Uric Acid
- Coagulation profile
- Fasting BSL and Cholesterol
- Iron Studies
- Vitamin D, B12, Folate, Selenium, Zinc
- EBV and CMV serology and quantitative PCR
- Hepatitis B and C serology