Oak Creek clinic specializes in long-term COVID-19 symptom care

More than 200,000 people across Wisconsin have recovered from COVID-19, but "recovered" doesn't mean the same thing for everybody.

Ascension Medical Group's Oak Creek facility is the system's first clinic to specialize in helping people who are still dealing with symptoms weeks or even months after contracting COVID-19. Meanwhile, doctors continue to adapt to the unknowns of the virus.

Maria Wittliff is still having difficulty breathing after first testing positive for COVID-19 in July. During a 10-minute interview with FOX6, her symptoms were back.

"I know now talking to you, I'm getting really short of breath," Wittliff said. I'm still not 100%, and it's been months now."

Doctors at Ascension say Wittliff is not alone.

"We don't really know what long term outcomes look-like because there isn't a long term yet," said Dr. Erin O'Tool, an Ascension physician.

O'Tool is one of the physicians that works at Ascension's new post-acute COVID-19 care clinic in Oak Creek.

"Even if it's 10% of people that have these persistent symptoms, that's a lot of people that are going to have persistent symptoms, and we need to provide them with an avenue of care," O'Tool said.

The clinic brings together a variety of specialists to address the varying symptoms that can last for months.

"You need to have all hands on-deck if you will," said O'Tool.

The need for a clinic, like the one in Oak Creek, is another reason that both O'Tool and Wittliff hope people follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

"It's another reason why we need to take this virus seriously. We need to wear our masks. We need to socially distance," O'Tool said.

"It's not a joke that's for sure. This is serious, serious stuff," said Wittliff.

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The clinic is open to all patients who are experiencing any lingering health issues from COVID-19.

Symptoms can include things like fatigue, difficulty breathing and mental health issues.

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