MaineHealth will close its long COVID clinic in January.
In this Jan. 20, 2022, file photo, a person wearing scrubs and a mask walks up a ramp at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

MaineHealth will close its clinic that treats patients with long-term COVID effects in January.

In a statement, the health care system said patients with long COVID are best served by a primary care provider who has a full picture of their medical history, rather than a separate post-COVID clinic.

The Portland-based clinic hasn’t accepted referrals since the beginning of September.

Long COVID is generally defined as having symptoms that persist for more than four weeks after an acute COVID infection. Symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, dizziness and changes in smell or taste.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 13 adults in the country have long COVID.

Though MaineHealth is closing its clinic, it’s still recruiting participants for a study on long COVID.

Speaking on Maine Calling Tuesday, Dr. Cliff Rosen, MaineHealth’s principal investigator for the national RECOVER study, said 100 participants have been recruited but 50 more are needed. Rosen said they’re looking for people with a range of experiences with COVID, from individuals with long-term symptoms to those who haven’t had any symptoms.

“These are important subgroups because we need to understand who is it that is not recovering from this infection,” Rosen said.

Rosen said it’s not yet clear what causes long COVID, and more education is needed to help primary care physicians stay up to date on how best to help patients.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.