PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hospitals are already crowded with patients because of the coronavirus outbreak and they’re expecting more. That’s sparked concerns about patients who don’t have the virus, but need ongoing care.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America says it can help cancer patients from other hospitals, so those facilities on the frontlines can focus on COVID-19 patients.
Elective procedures have been postponed, but what happens to patients who need ongoing treatments, like the millions who have cancer?
Loriana Hernandez is a two-time cancer survivor who got a call from her oncologist office.
“They said your 3/27 appointment has been delayed,” Hernandez said. “I said no problem. I was scared to go in. I figured that was coming.”
Cancer Treatment Centers of America is offering to take in patients who may be displaced by the pandemic.
“We can’t have cancer surgeries get delayed or radiation therapies get delayed or chemotherapies get delayed, because the timing and consistency is so important, that it’s not OK to just put those off for several weeks,” said Dr. Pat Basu, president and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
In addition to the importance of consistent treatments, cancer patients are often immunocompromised and at greater risk for developing complications if they’re exposed to the virus.
“We have these precautions in place to make sure that our cancer patients are safe, that don’t have to be exposed to any unnecessary risk,” Basu said.
CTCA says it’s able to make room for 40 inpatient beds and also has capacity to expand outpatient services. The move will also free up beds for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
“What we’re trying to achieve with our partnerships for collectively patients and society, is the best of both worlds where the cancer patient can stay safe and cared for and hospitals that are excellent at taking care of the infectious diseases, can do what they do,” Basu said.
We don’t yet know the response from other hospitals or treatment facilities about sending over their patients.
Doctors have said it’s critically important for cancer patients to guard against being exposed to the virus.