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COVID-19, cancer and CTCA: What you should know

As a cancer patient, you may have specific questions about your vulnerability to the COVID-19 virus and how the disease may affect your treatment. Here are answers to common questions about the COVID-19 and cancer and what we’re doing at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) to protect the safety of our patients, visitors and employees:

Status of CTCA treatments and services

Is CTCA® still open for patient care?

Yes, as a cancer care network taking care of cancer patients, we know that cancer does not stop for COVID-19. We are recommending that all patients with upcoming appointments contact their care teams for guidance pertaining specifically to them.

Is CTCA canceling all surgeries, pain procedures and medical oncology appointments?

No. We are not canceling patient appointments. Cancer does not stop for COVID-19, and treatment is critically important for our patients. Each appointment is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the provider and patient. Where appropriate, appointments may be rescheduled.

If I want to reschedule my appointment, how far out are you rescheduling patients?

We must be thoughtful and deliberate in our decisions to reschedule patients because we don’t want to delay their 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 the cafes still open at the hospitals?

Yes, but our cafes are now providing Grab and Go options only. Patients and visitors are still welcome to dine in the seated areas, but to comply with social-distancing practices, there are no more than two chairs at each table and guests are asked to maintain 6 feet of distance between them.

Are salon services still available?

Not at the moment. All our on-site salons have been closed until further notice.

Are any activities being offered?

No. All activities have been postponed until further notice.

Is CTCA still offering onsite guest quarters at the hospitals?

All hospitals except CTCA Tulsa have temporarily discontinued onsite guest accommodations at this time. Instead, we are making arrangements for patients to stay in nearby, offsite lodging. This measure will enable our environmental services team to focus its efforts on additional cleaning and disinfecting of all common and clinical areas.

Traveling to CTCA

Is CTCA restricting patients from out of state?

No.

Is CTCA restricting patients from flying?

No. Cancer does not stop for COVID-19, and treatment is critically important for our patients. Each appointment is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the provider and patient, and may be rescheduled.

Is it safe for me to travel by plane to CTCA?

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 of susceptibility because of compromised immune function, we are advising patients to limit unnecessary travel to protect yourself from the virus, and when you can, travel by car instead of by plane.

If you have an upcoming appointment that requires you to fly to one our hospitals, call your CTCA care team directly. They will help you determine whether the risk-to-benefit ratio warrants you making the trip. Some appointments may be medically urgent, while we may be able to safely reschedule others for another time.

Should I be looking out for COVID-19 symptoms before I visit a CTCA hospital?

Yes, this is very important. As you travel to our centers for cancer care, please be alert that if you or the caregiver accompanying you to your appointments becomes symptomatic (fever with shortness of breath or cough or sore throat) just prior to travelling or while on your way to CTCA, you should return home and refer to your primary care physician for care. If you experience any symptoms you feel require immediate medical attention, report to the closest emergency services department or dial 911. We are taking this measure to ensure the safety and health of all our patients and their loved ones.

What can I do before my visit to CTCA if my team determines that I can travel?

If your care team determines that you should come for your cancer treatment, make sure to take these steps to help protect yourself from the virus:

  • Wash your hands and face frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Try to avoid crowds at the airport.
  • Choose a window seat on the plane, and don’t get up during the flight.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Consider bringing antibacterial wipes and wipe down your seating area, including your chair, armrest and eating surface—both on the plane or in the airport lounge or eating areas.

Patient safety at CTCA

What is CTCA doing to protect its patients and staff?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we rapidly implemented screening protocols and safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at each of our locations. As states and regions de-escalate pandemic-related restrictions, or conversely, as they begin to see spikes in cases, our locations will continue to ensure we are consistently meeting and exceeding necessary protocols. Examples of the precautions we’ve implemented include:

  • CTCA clinical teams are reaching out to our patients prior to their visit to check on their health, to ensure they have a healthy and safe plan for getting to our facilities, and to determine if a telehealth visit is a better option for their type of appointment.
  • Our facilities have implemented a single point of entry when necessary, with 24-hour, mandatory screening of all patients, caregivers, visitors, physicians and employees.
  • We have updated our visitor policy to do all that we can to protect patients where they are most susceptible:
    • In some locations, caregivers and visitors will not be allowed in the Inpatient Units, Pre-Op and PACU areas. For those hospitals, those areas will only be accessible to necessary employees and providers.
    • Each patient will still be allowed one caregiver over the age of 18 in other outpatient areas of the hospital.
  • All CTCA employees are being screened for symptoms twice a day to protect the health and safety of those providing, and those receiving care.
  • We are providing masks for all patients and caregivers to wear throughout their time in any of our facilities and until they get back home.
  • All CTCA physicians, clinicians, other employees and official visitors will be provided the appropriate mask based on their patient responsibilities as outlined in the CTCA COVID-19 Preparedness Personal Protective Equipment policy.
  • All CTCA employees who are not required to be onsite are working remotely to reduce person-to-person contact.
  • We also have implemented additional cleaning and disinfecting measures, and we have removed and spaced some furniture throughout each facility to comply with social-distancing practices.
  • CTCA closely monitors CDC travel recommendations and guidelines and are continuously educating and training our care providers as developments occur.

Are visitors and caregivers still allowed to come with patients to appointments?

At this time, for general outpatient appointments, we are limiting caregivers to one per patient, and no one under the age of 18 will be permitted at any site, with special exceptions in some cases. However, all caregivers and visitors will not be permitted in certain areas of the hospital, such as highly sensitive inpatient units and pre-op areas, to protect the health and safety of our patients. Please talk to your care team about whether these measures will affect you, certain exceptions that may be made and steps we’re taking to continue to keep your caregiver involved in your care.

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I'm a current patient—is there a number I can call?

To speak to a member of our care management team, call (888) 325-4754.