HALIFAX -- It's been almost one year since Emily Bodechon, a health care worker from New Brunswick, tested positive for COVID-19.

She says some of her symptoms are still lingering, even after testing negative for the virus.

"My life has completely turned upside down from this time last year," said Bodechon. "We have challenges that I just couldn’t have imagined that we would have had."

Bodechon is known as a COVID-19 “long hauler,” meaning a patient who has experienced symptoms of the virus long after infection.

Bodechon says her lingering symptoms are making it difficult to allow herself to live life as she once did before her COVID-19 diagnosis.

"I still have inflammation in my lungs, so I'm taking inhalers for that," explained Bodechon. "I still have insomnia, so I'm on medication for that."

Dr. Alexis Goth is a physician at the Integrated Chronic Care Service (ICCS) – a clinic that treats patients with chronic conditions – in Fall River, N.S.

She says the number of referrals for COVID-19 long haulers is growing day-by-day.  

"We offer them some awareness about what we think is happening and then what are the tools we can offer to help them find that balance again," said Goth.

With the COVID-19 virus new to the medical community, physicians admit they still have a lot to learn about the long-term effects it can have on people.

Emily says despite her lingering side effects, she is grateful to have received her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

However, she says more support is needed in the region for people experiencing long haul COVID-19 symptoms. 

"What we've recognized in primary care with family physicians is that they may not have a lot of experience with these conditions and that's not their fault," explained Goth. "These conditions have been under recognized, so I think we will need more centralized care."

Goth says she hopes to see treatments for COVID-19 long haulers become a reality sooner than later.