COVID-19 and patient safety

Patient safety is a top priority at City of Hope and we took extraordinary measures during the pandemic to reduce the risk of patients and staff getting infected with the virus while maintaining the high level of cancer care our patients have come to expect.

As the pandemic has ebbed and flowed and new variants have dominated and waned, our staff has adjusted safety protocols to fit the current state of the pandemic and to remain in line with federal guidelines and recommendations.

Still, as a cancer patient, you may have questions and concerns about your vulnerability to the COVID-19 virus, how the disease may affect your treatment and the policies and procedures employed at our hospitals and Outpatient Care Centers.

Please remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid and sometimes-volatile situation that may and likely will change over time. So please stay up to date on the current state of the pandemic and contact your doctor or care team with any questions or concerns.

Here are answers to common questions about cancer and COVID-19 and a rundown of our recommendations and protocols as we continue to protect the safety of our patients, visitors and employees:

Patient safety

What is City of Hope doing to protect its patients and staff?

As states and regions de-escalate pandemic-related restrictions, or conversely, as they begin to see spikes in cases, our locations continue to ensure to consistently meet and exceed necessary safety protocols. Precautions and protocols we've implemented include:

  • Requiring masks for all visitors and staff
  • Using enhanced cleaning and disinfecting measures
  • Encouraging social distancing for staff and visitors
  • Offering telehealth visits to qualifying patients
  • Limiting visitors to adults over 18

What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

City of Hope encourages patients, staff and their families and caregivers to be alert for symptoms of COVID-19, the flu or any other communicable diseases before coming to a hospital for treatment, showing up for work or coming to visit. Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Shivers and chills
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Persistent cough
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

However, it may be difficult to distinguish one viral infection from another when experiencing mild symptoms, especially with no recent travel or contact with someone known to have COVID-19. If your symptoms worsen or you develop shortness of breath, we recommend seeking medical attention and testing for flu and/or COVID-19.

What do I need to know about COVID-19 vaccines?

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters have been proven to be safe and effective in helping to prevent infection or reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from the virus. It’s important for cancer patients and those in close contact with them to have up-to-date vaccines for COVID-19 and other conditions, such as influenza and pneumonia.

City of Hope recommends patients follow guidelines for COVID-19 vaccines and boosters outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC now recommends that individuals with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive additional doses to boost immunity.

Please visit the CDC website for more information and FAQs.

Treatments and services

Should I reschedule my appointments?

Throughout the pandemic, City of Hope has encouraged patients to keep all their screening, diagnostic or treatment appointments whenever possible because we don't want to delay patient care, unless necessary. If rescheduling appointments is needed, this will be discussed between the provider and patient on a case-by-case basis and an appropriate timeframe will be determined.

Are any activities being offered?

Some events and activities are now being held at our hospitals. However, our Cancer Fighters® team still offers a variety of virtual meetings and events. To participate, go to cancerfighters.com and login, or click "Sign Up."

Is City of Hope offering onsite guest quarters at the hospitals?

City of Hope is offering onsite guest accommodations to qualifying patients and family members in our Atlanta and Chicago locations. When necessary, we arrange for patients to stay in nearby, offsite lodging.

Traveling to City of Hope

Is it safe for me to travel by plane?

We understand that some of our patients are concerned about flying for cancer treatment or other appointments amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Because many of our patients may be at higher risk because of compromised immune function, we advise patients protect themselves from the virus while traveling by following common-sense guidelines, such as:

  • Wearing a mask
  • Washing hands and face frequently
  • Avoiding crowds when possible
  • Choosing a window seat on the plane and remaining seated during the flight
  • Getting vaccinated and boosted before you travel

If you’re concerned about flying, contact your travel team about options that may be available.

Contacting your care team

If you are a current patient and have questions not covered on this page, please reach out to us using one of the numbers listed below.

Patient questions about COVID-19: (888) 325-4754

To inquire about travel arrangements, call:

Messaging through the patient portal

You can also message your care team directly through our patient portal.

In order to do so, navigate to the login screen and enter your username and password.

Once you have signed in, look for the Quick Links on your home screen (see illustration below). Click on the "Message my Care Team" button from the panel, and you'll be able to send a message directly to your care team.