University Hospitals adjusting cancer patient treatments to safeguard from pandemic

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW) — University Hospitals says its working to create an oasis from coronavirus for cancer patients.

“We have to protect patients. We only want them to come to the hospital if it’s absolutely essential,” said Dr. Ted Teknos is the President and Scientific Director of the UH Sediman Cancer Center.

“What we’ve done for patients who are on active therapy is, especially with regards to radiation oncology, if those treatments can be delivered in a shorter time frame we try to do it over a shorter period of time so they have less visits to the hospital,” he said.

Plexiglass sheets are up at the registration area in addition to screening at the front door and like many hospitals, as a general rule visitors are not allowed.

“Cancer patients, when they are infected with coronavirus, have a higher rate of complication and a higher mortality rate, whereas the overall mortality rate for infection from coronavirus is about 2 and a half percent. It’s about 5 and a half to 6 percent in cancer patients. Those who are actively undergoing cancer treatment have an even higher rate of death from coronavirus,” Dr. Teknos explained.

Dr. Teknos said three patients have tested positive for COVID-19. The hospital created separate clinics and infusion areas for those patients. 

A concern moving forward is people avoiding going to the hospital and how it could impact their care.

“Our biggest concern is as cancer providers is during this time of social distancing people who are experiencing symptoms aren’t getting or are afraid to go to the hospital and discuss symptoms with their doctors and we’re worried there might be a delay in new cancer diagnosis,” he said.

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