Yes. Data from areas that have already seen a higher rate of COVID-19 than the United States indicate that anyone who is immunocompromised or who has underlying health conditions is at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 and for having more severe symptoms if they do get COVID-19. This includes cancer patients.
Self-isolate and/or quarantine as much as possible. Practice social distancing (six feet or more), and wear gloves or wash your hands often and after any encounter with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as recommended by the CDC. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Clean surfaces frequently. Practice proper cough and sneeze “etiquette” (sneeze or cough into your sleeve, not your hand, and dispose of any tissues immediately), and avoid touching your face. Do not travel. Have someone else run errands for you if you can. If you must leave home to come to the doctor, pick up medications or get food, be vigilant about hygiene as above. Report any symptoms immediately to your doctor.
That is a discussion that you need to have with your physician as soon as possible so that your care team can formulate a plan specific for you and your circumstances. It’s likely that if you are at a stage in your cancer journey where your disease is not, at the moment, life-threatening, and if you are not having significant symptoms, you may be able to wait for treatment, and your appointments may be delayed. Those with very aggressive disease and/ or those who may be having many symptoms may be advised to proceed with treatment.
Again, that will depend. In most COVID-19 patients, treatment will be delayed. But if your condition is life-threatening or if you are having significant symptoms, treatment would have to continue, with special precautions taken to protect you and your caregivers.
Our cancer centers are taking many precautions to protect patients, visitors, staff and physicians. (Note - These may change if information changes and/or government regulations require additional measures.) Among them:
- Valet services have been suspended.
- A central screening area has been set up at each facility. We maintain a distance of at least six feet between patients, visitors and screeners. If a patient has any symptoms, they immediately receive a mask and move to a secondary screening area. At Miami Cancer Institute, if there are additional concerns, patients are escorted to another area of campus for additional screening and/or testing.
- To continue protecting our immunocompromised cancer patients at Miami Cancer Institute and Lynn Cancer Institute from the risks of COVID-19, no visitors will be able to accompany adult patients for the duration of this pandemic. There will be special circumstances when it will be necessary for a single adult visitor to accompany a patient. Limited exceptions may include: pediatric patients and adult patients with identified cognitive impairment.
- Staff is regularly screened. In addition, staff uses CDC infection control guidelines and appropriate personal protective equipment as indicated.
If a patient with a cognitive impairment is coming to a visit where a decision is to be made, a power of attorney should be in the medical record, allowing the visitor to make such decisions.
In some cases, yes. For example, providers will soon be conducting telehealth visits via Baptist Health’s Care On Demand or via an app like FaceTime. You may be called by your provider about this, or you can call and discuss this option with your provider’s office. In addition, the Care On Demand virtual service is available 24/7 to anyone in the community through the Care On Demand app. Use code CARE19 for a free visit.
Miami Cancer Institute patients, specifically, may use the Express Symptom Management hotline at 786-527-8990, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Providers will help guide you to the appropriate level of care for your symptoms.