Cancer Care During COVID-19

By Bridget Burling

Cancer care is significant at Humber River Hospital. COVID-19 has created new challenges for patients, such as visitor restrictions and fear of contracting the virus. Doctors at HRH, such as Dr. Gautam Sudan, are working diligently to ensure the best care for their patients. Dr. Sudan understands the struggles of being affected by cancer firsthand since his mother is a breast cancer patient. He said that he’s “worried when [he goes] home to see her and [he] is worried about her safety when she leaves the house.”

Restrictions 

The restrictions have been challenging for cancer patients. Dr. Sudan said that currently, “inpatients are not allowed visitors unless they are terminal and in their final stages due to the COVID restrictions.” Humber River Hospital does have Patient Family Liaisons and nurses who are able to help connect patients with their family members on the phone or through video calls. The restrictions in place are necessary, so that “we do not put our patients or staff at risk. The patients, especially, are already in a compromised position.”

Treatment

Starting June 15, there are new rules in effect to help slow the spread of the virus. Humber River Hospital is starting to do COVID testing per cycle of chemotherapy and at least once during the patients’ visits. The testing will be done at Humber’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Finch, and it has to be completed four days before getting treatment. These precautionary steps as a result of COVID-19 make getting chemotherapy more challenging for the patients. Dr. Sudan said that although having the testing in a different location is not as convenient: “The testing centres do take all necessary precautions for patients such as having a time slot for them to come in.”

What HRH is doing

Dr. Sudan noted that Humber River Hospital has been successful in continuing procedures despite the virus. He said that “Humber is not delaying care for cancer patients like some other hospitals are. If patients need to get a biopsy or urgent radiological imaging, both are done within a week.” Also, he noted that patients who need chemotherapy are receiving treatment on time.

Dr. Sudan and his colleagues are working diligently to care for cancer patients during these times. Working with cancer patients and providing support towards them is more important than ever before because of these new visitor restrictions. Thankfully, HRH’s dedicated physicians and staff are working hard to keep treatment running smoothly.