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I am a Cancer Patient. What Should I Be Doing to Protect Myself During the COVID-19 Crisis?

Cancer patients need to adhere to particular guidelines to maintain their health and well-being during the coronavirus pandemic. This is especially pertinent for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment. It’s important to point out that individuals with any underlying medical condition, no matter the age, are at increased risk of developing complications from infection with the virus. This is especially true for patients who have an active cancer, particularly if patients recently received or are continuing to receive immune system suppressing treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following guidelines should be followed by cancer patients as well as their family members and caregivers to avoid contracting the virus.

Watch out for fever. Take your temperature any time you feel warm, flushed, chilled, or not well. Call your doctor right away if you have a temperature of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher.

Clean your hands. Many diseases are spread by not cleaning your hands, which is especially dangerous when you’re getting chemotherapy treatment. Wash your hands often.

Know the signs and symptoms of infection. Infection during chemotherapy can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications. Call your doctor right away if you notice any of the signs and symptoms of an infection.

Avoid other people as much as possible (social distancing).  Avoid leaving home as much as possible. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between you and non-household members.  Avoid places where people congregate and be sure to wear a mask. Have supplies and food delivered to your home.

What are we doing in the CareMount Cancer Center to minimize the risk of our cancer patients contracting the COVID-19 virus?

We are placing everyone, including staff and patients, in a face covering. We are cleaning rooms and infusion chairs with disinfectants between patients. We are not allowing friends or family members into the office unless absolutely necessary. We are keeping the waiting rooms as empty as possible by bringing patients directly in for their appointment, or if there is a wait, having patients wait in the car until we are ready for them to come inside. We are not allowing patients with a fever, cough, or other symptoms concerning for COVID-19 into our offices until they test negative for the virus or have completed a quarantine with resolution of symptoms.

Schedule a virtual visit with your healthcare provider.

Virtual visits can be used for initial cancer patient consults as well as follow-up visits that do not require a physical exam including vital signs. Virtual visits can also be used for the review of lab results, scans, and biopsy results, management of mild to moderate symptoms, chemotherapy teaching visits, and survivorship visits with nurse practitioners. Virtual visits can be scheduled for most hematology consults as well as for patients seen for abnormal hematology labs.

What requires an in-person visit?

Most appointments are amenable to virtual visits except those that require an in-person exam. If a patient has more concerning symptoms that potentially require in-office evaluations or treatments, he or she should schedule an in-office appointment with their provider.

If patients have questions, they can call the CareMount Cancer Center Hotline: 1-844-484-3292

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

In the News: Cancer care and virtual visits
April 21, 2020
100.7 WHUD Mike & Kacey in the Morning interview Dr. Jonathan Goldberg