Levine Cancer Institute II

Coronavirus Updates, Your Health | 3 years ago

Continuing our Commitment to Excellent Cancer Care Amid COVID-19

Atrium Health's Levine Cancer Institute's commitment to patient care will not waver, even during a pandemic. Here's how we protect patients during COVID-19. Plus: Four tips for cancer patients to minimize risk during COVID-19.

If there’s one thing Levine Cancer Institute patients need to know now, it’s this: Levine Cancer Institute is here to take care of you and to provide you the care you need in a safe environment, even amid the uncertainty of COVID-19.

“At Levine Cancer Institute, we have a unique population of patients. These folks are on active chemotherapy or immunotherapy or other treatments,” says Edward Kim, MD, FACP, FASCO, Chairman of Solid Tumor Oncology at Levine Cancer Institute. “Our colleagues around the system are doing our best to not only keep our patients safe, but our teammates safe also.”

Dr. Kim says that commitment to excellent patient care won’t waver, not even during a pandemic. This requires a few adjusted policies, however, to ensure that patients stay safe and healthy during this time.

Here’s how Levine Cancer Institute keeps patient safe during COVID-19: 

Essential Treatments Will Continue

If you require chemotherapy, a transfusion or other treatments, you will continue to receive that essential care. Some non-urgent appointments – such as six-month follow-ups after the completion of treatment – may be postponed to minimize exposure to others. “The number one objective that we want to fulfill is to deliver the care that you urgently need,” Dr. Kim says. “Anything that we feel is not clinically beneficial at this time, or more elective, will be delayed.”

Lung cancer care, Dr. Kim’s area of expertise, requires additional attentiveness. Susceptibility to COVID-19 increases in people who have existing health issues, especially involving the lungs. “We want to be very vigilant with those folks,” Dr. Kim says.

Proactive Conversations with Patients

Staff will call each patient to learn if they’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Dr. Kim assures patients that having symptoms will not mean cancelled appointments; patients with symptoms will continue to receive the treatments they need depending on their condition. If a patient has symptoms, we will make sure they are tested for infections prior to receiving their cancer care, which will be in an appropriate area to minimize exposure risks to patients and providers. Awareness about symptoms will allow Levine Cancer Institute to test those patients. “We will want to get these patients tested to see if they have COVID-19 or not. Those testing kits are now available at Atrium Health,” he says.

A Safe Environment with Minimized Risk

To reduce the risk of exposure, we’ve restricted visitors who can join patients during appointments. We understand that some patients require help, but we ask that most of our visitors or relatives wait for the patient in the car or in another location. “If you think about each patient bringing one person to help them and you see a hundred patients, that's 200 people now. If everybody brings two people, the math gets big very quickly,” Dr. Kim says. “We need to practice social distancing to fight the spread of the virus.”

No Disruption to Essential Clinical Trials and Expedited COVID-19 Trials

Access to cutting-edge clinical trials is one reason why patients choose Levine Cancer Institute, and patients will continue to have access to these opportunities during COVID-19. “If we feel that there is a clinical trial that will benefit a patient who is fighting cancer, we will absolutely register and enroll them,” Dr. Kim says. Some of the more elective trials – including ones that focus on questionnaires or collecting samples with longer-term monitoring – may be postponed, however.

Levine Cancer Institute, in partnership with pharmaceutical companies, expects to offer clinical trials for COVID-19 patients in several weeks. We will keep eligible patients informed when these trials are available.

Collaboration with National Experts and Real-time Updates

The EAPathways platform at Levine Cancer Institute allows providers across our offices to share the latest news and information. When recommendations change based on new data, those updates disseminate to providers throughout our system. Patients at Levine Cancer Institute can be confident that their care is based on the most current research and information.

As always, Levine Cancer Institute remains committed to staying on the forefront of research. Dr. Kim stays abreast of research and emerging clinical trials for patients through his roles as the Medical Director of the Clinical Trials Office and as the Chair of the Central Institutional Review Board for the National Cancer Institute. Many oncologists at Levine Cancer Institute also have connections with the American Society of Clinical Oncology, staying current with the latest practices and research in the field of oncology.

Dr. Kim assures patients at Levine Cancer Institute that there is no reason to panic. Providers will continue to offer excellent, compassionate care, and they’re here to support patients just as before. 

“At Levine Cancer Institute, Atrium Health, we are looking out for you. You are our number one priority,” Dr. Kim says. “We are implementing many measures to minimize exposure, maximize our communication and deliver the best care and opportunity for you, the patient, who's battling cancer. 

Four Tips for Cancer Patients During COVID-19

  1. Take care of yourself. Remember to eat healthy foods, take walks if you can, and prioritize your health and well-being.
  2. Minimize contact to sick people. If you’re near someone who coughs – even a loved one or relative – then move. Maximize distance between yourself and germs.
  3. Be vigilant in washing your hands. You’ve heard it many times by now: twenty seconds, warm water, frequently throughout the day.
  4. Don’t panic. Practice healthy habits, and remember that you’ve got providers at Atrium who support you and will give you the care you need.