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New York City Holds Its First ‘Long COVID’ Symposium

Published: June 20, 2022
A COVID-19 testing site stands on a Brooklyn street corner on April 18, 2022 in New York City. New York City held its first Long COVID symposium entitled “Long COVID and the Road to Recovery” on June 8 in New York City. (Image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, on June 8, New York City leadership from across City Hall, NYC Health + Hospitals and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene held the City’s first “Long COVID” symposium, an event focused on care and coordination for New Yorkers suffering from Long COVID. 

The event was attended by over 400 city-based clinicians and health and social service providers who have been offering help to New Yorkers suffering with Long COVID. 

Via a press release, Anne Williams-Isom, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services said, “We are still learning so much about COVID-19 and its long term effects. That is why the recent symposium was so important, as we continue to listen to and support people that believe they may be living with the ongoing effects of the virus.”

Williams-Isom said that the symposium is a “first step” for various health departments to learn to work together to support New Yorkers touched by the virus. 

“Long COVID has been difficult for our patients, not knowing when or if they’ll feel like themselves again. As doctors, even when we don’t have a clear answer or treatment, we can always be there to listen, connect to our patients’ experience, and help them live their best life,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “The Long COVID symposium was a wonderful opportunity for the healthcare community to support one another as we serve our patients with Long COVID,” he added. 

The day-long symposium entitled, “Long COVID and the Road to Recovery” sought to educate patient care providers, public health practitioners and members of community-based organizations about the best practices for the assessment, referral and treatment of Long COVID.

Long COVID presents in a wide range of new, ongoing or returning symptoms that patients may develop after their initial COVID-19 infection, according to a press release on the matter. 

The symposium is said to have enhanced participant’s understanding of “the specific social support and benefit needs of patients with Long COVID” and the resources available for referral, including those offered through the NYC Test & Trace Corps’ AfterCare program.

The one day event is said to have built on the momentum of the New York State consortium held in February this year which emphasized “actionable takeaways for providers to compliment New York State’s goals.”

“By listening to and learning from our patients’ experiences, we are continuing to learn how to provide comprehensive care for New Yorkers living with Long COVID,” said Dr. Amanda K. Johnson, Director of Take Care at the NYC Test & Trace Corps and Assistant Vice President of Ambulatory Care and Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals. “It is time to amplify their voices, not only regarding the impact of this condition and its symptoms on their daily lives, but to establish priorities for what support and recovery should look like,” she said. 

A complete video recording of the symposium and a detailed meeting agenda can be accessed here

In addition, a “Dear Colleague” letter was made available to all New York City-based providers detailing how they can “comprehensively assess their patients for Long COVID, provide treatment and connect them to specialty care and resources.”

New Yorkers who believe they are suffering from Long COVID are encouraged to call 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319), select their preferred language and press 4 to speak directly to an “AfterCare navigator.”

“Patients can also be referred to NYC Health + Hospitals’ COVID-19 Centers of Excellence, which offer dedicated short and long-term follow-up care for Long COVID patients,” reads a press release on the matter. 

A panelist at the symposium, Dr. Emma Kaplan-Lewis, HIV Clinical Quality Director and Assistant Professor of Infectious Disease at the Office of Population Health said the symposium was “an incredible experience of human interconnectedness,” adding that she “was glad to be able to hear the powerful stories of the brave individuals who shared their experiences both on the screen and in the chat.”

“The NYC Health + Hospitals Long COVID symposium was an important milestone in the collective local efforts aimed at addressing this novel yet ongoing public health problem,” said panelist Dr. Lawrence Purpura, MD, Infectious Disease Physician, New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “It was an honor to participate and share my clinical and research experiences with Long COVID with this NYC-based audience,” he said.