Patient safety at CTCA amid the COVID-19 pandemic

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:

Patient safety at CTCA

What is CTCA doing to protect its patients and staff?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we rapidly began new 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:

  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting measures
  • Steps to ensure social distancing
  • New policies that limit visits and require masks
  • New screening protocols for all patients, staff and visitors

What is the policy on masks at CTCA?

All patients, staff and visitors are required to wear a mask at all times while in a CTCA® facility. We provide masks for all patients and caregivers to wear throughout their time in any of our facilities. All CTCA physicians, clinicians, other employees and visitors will be provided the appropriate mask based on their patient responsibilities.

Are patients and staff being screened and/or tested for COVID-19?

CTCA is taking a number of steps to screen patients, staff and visitors before and during their time at one of our hospitals or Outpatient Care Centers. Those steps include:

  • All patients are contacted by a member of their CTCA care team prior to their scheduled visit to check on their health and see that they have a safe plan for traveling to our facilities.
  • All CTCA facilities have a single point of entry, and we conduct 24-hour, mandatory screening of all patients, physicians, employees, caregivers and visitors.
  • All CTCA employees are screened for symptoms twice a day to protect the health and safety of those providing, and those receiving, care.

What is being done to facilitate social distancing at CTCA?

From limiting the number of visitors and staff in our facilities, to suspending certain services, to reducing the number of people in waiting and dining areas, CTCA has taken several steps to make it easier for patients to observe social distancing guidelines. For instance:

  • Patients will be allowed to have only one visitor or caregiver and only in designated areas.
  • All CTCA employees who are not required to be onsite are working remotely to reduce person-to-person contact.
  • When appropriate, patients are encouraged to use telehealth services rather than visit the hospital in person.
  • Furniture in sitting areas throughout each facility has been spaced or removed to comply with social-distancing protocols.
  • Most group activities have been postponed until further notice. Check your location to see if virtual support group activities and classes are available.
  • CTCA has discontinued or limited guest accommodations in some locations.
  • Cafes are now providing Grab and Go options only. Patients and visitors are still welcome to dine in the seated areas, but there are no more than two chairs at each table, and guests are asked to maintain 6 feet of distance between them.

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. Those areas will only be accessible to necessary employees and providers. 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.

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 any activities being offered?

Most activities have been postponed until further notice. However, our Cancer Fighters® team has a variety of virtual offerings, including sessions on breathing and relaxation techniques, classes on Medicare and Social Security, and discussions about intimacy, spiritual support and the immune system. To participate, go to cancerfighters.com and login, or click "Sign Up."

Is CTCA still offering onsite guest quarters at the hospitals?

Currently, CTCA has limited or discontinued offering onsite guest accommodations in some locations. When necessary, 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. But some states may have travel restrictions. Check to see if your state has restrictions and if exceptions are made for residents requiring out-of-state medical treatment. If necessary, your CTCA travel team can provide a letter confirming your need to travel.

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. Contact your CTCA travel team about options that may be available if you're concerned about flying.

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 just prior to travelling or while on your way to CTCA, you should return home and refer to your primary care physician for care. Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, congestion, runny nose, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, as well as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea not associated with your cancer diagnosis or treatment. 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:

  • Wear a mask.
  • 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.

Contact us

I'm a current patient, and I have more questions. Who can I call?

Please contact your care team. They are happy to answer any questions or concerns.