Cancer Treatment During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Living with cancer is difficult at any time. During a pandemic, it can be especially unsettling.
With the arrival of the coronavirus, hospitals everywhere are seeing fewer patients. Understandably so, as many non-urgent appointments and procedures were postponed as a precaution. At the same time, many were reluctant to be in a hospital or doctor’s office for fear of contracting the virus.
Unfortunately, cancer does not recognize that there is a pandemic. For our patients, continuation of treatment and keeping your regular appointments are critical parts of your treatment plan. For newly diagnosed patients, getting treatment as soon as possible is also vital. For most cancers, over time the disease process can progress and, as a consequence, treatment may be less effective. While it can feel daunting, it’s best to start sooner rather than later.
We want to assure you that we are here for you. While the coronavirus has changed much of our daily lives, one thing that has remained constant is our commitment to providing you with the best, safest care possible.
How We Are Protecting You
Here at the Lifespan Cancer Institute, your safety is our top priority. As experts in cancer, we also know completing a treatment plan is associated with the best outcomes for patients. That is why we worked closely with our infection prevention and infectious diseases teams to be able to provide the care you need in a safe environment.
For your safety and that of our staff, we have taken the following steps:
- We have limited the number of people allowed into a Lifespan Cancer Institute facility at any one time. That number varies depending on the size of the facility.
- All patients will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to appointments.
- All patients will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms again when they enter the facility. To ensure that all are screened, we are reducing the number of entrances into a facility.
- If a patient screens positive for COVID-19, we have a designated plan in place to triage our patients.
- All patients and caregivers will wear cloth face coverings that cover the nose and mouth. If a patient arrives without a face covering, we will provide one.
- Waiting rooms will be rearranged so that there is at least six feet between individuals, and maximum numbers are identified for the waiting rooms at each of our facilities depending on the size of the room.
- We have removed any unnecessary objects from our offices, such as magazines, books, toys and small furniture.
- We clean and sanitize high-touch and common surfaces at a minimum of every four hours.
- Standard medical masks and hand sanitizer are readily available at all of our locations.
- Our staff will perform hand hygiene after handling paperwork, cash, credit cards, licenses, and insurance cards. We urge our patients to do the same. Our staff will also wipe down the stylus pads and signature pads after each use.
During this pandemic, it is important for everyone to take the necessary precautions to reduce your risk of contracting the coronavirus. Please be sure to follow the recommended practices:
- maintain social distancing
- wear a mask when out of the house
- be sure to wash your hands well and often
- avoid touching your face or eyes
- avoid group settings
As we all strive to get back to our “normal” lives, we encourage you to return to scheduling appointments for cancer screenings, such as mammography and colonoscopy. These screenings are so important because they can help us identify cancer early, at its most treatable stage.
In this challenging time, the team at the Lifespan Cancer Institute is here to help you. We offer cancer and hematology care at multiple sites throughout Rhode Island. All are open and ready to provide care for you.
For more information on our services or locations, please visit our website, and please be safe.
About the Author:
David Wazer, MD and Susan F. Korber, MS, RN, OCN, NE-BC
Dr. David Wazer is director of the Lifespan Cancer Institute as well as radiation oncologist-in-chief at Rhode Island Hospital.
Sue Korber is the vice president of the Lifespan Cancer Institute and associate chief nursing officer for Rhode Island Hospital.
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