'COVID Recovery Clinic' opens to provide long COVID-19 patients with treatment, care

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Doctors say that what is happening with post COVID-19 illnesses is reminiscent to what Americans dealt with following the polio epidemic.

Keck Medicine of USC has formally launched its COVID Recovery Clinic.

Despite the pandemic, 2020 was turning out to be brilliant for USC grad Morgan Stephens.

"I started at CNN as a production assistant," she said.

Stephens moved to North Carolina, but in November 2020 she and her family all got COVID-19. For three weeks, she thought she was recovering well, but then strange symptoms struck.

"I had major insomnia. I started to develop internal tremors, so it felt like my body was quivering or shaking," Stephens said. "Just these kinds of bizarre neurological symptoms as well as severe depression, severe anxiety."

Dozens of doctors told her it was just pandemic nerves.

"There was some gaslighting that went on, especially early on," she said.

After five months, Stephens and her husband moved back to Los Angeles to seek care at the COVID Recovery Clinic at Keck Medicine of USC.

"Potentially up to 30% of people who have COVID and especially if it's a mild case, tend to have long COVID symptoms," said Dr. Caitlyn McAuley with the COVID Recovery Clinic.

McAuley and a team of multi-disciplinary experts do a thorough evaluation. Treatment is often symptom management.

"Our goals are really functional goals. How do we get people back to being able to do the normal things they do in life? McAuley said. "Occupational therapy has been one of our greatest treatments."

Care is usually customized. For Morgan, Botox injections helped her with her severe headaches. Many patients try various vitamin supplements. While the research may be inconclusive, McAuley wants to take a closer look at probiotics.

"There have been studies that now show that people's gut bacteria changes before they had COVID to after having COVID," McAuley said.

After nearly a year and a half of healing, Stephens feels ready to resume her career, and plans to write a book to help others going through the same ordeal.

"Hold on because it gets better," Stephens said. "It was as bad as it could get and I am a testament to how much you can actually heal."
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.