Chester County Hospital continues to employ multiple safeguards at each of our facilities and offices as the county prepares to move to the yellow phase. This week, our COVID Conversation covers all of the hard work our staff is doing to ensure the hospital is clean, safe and secure for your visit. Our expert physicians in Oncology and Radiology will discuss guidelines and share advice on how to keep yourself well.
You can view this conversation in the video below, or read the accompanying transcript.
Note: Some of the footage used in this video was filmed prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. All Chester County Hospital facilities have a universal masking policy in place, and all providers, staff, patients and visitors are to wear a face covering or mask while at any of the hospital's locations.
I'm Karen Pinsky, Chief Medical Officer of the Chester County Hospital, welcome to our COVID Conversation. In this video I will share with you all of the hard work that I and my colleagues are doing to make sure that our hospital is clean, safe and secure for your visit.
Also, you'll hear from some of my expert colleagues discussing oncology care and radiology.
Precautions for Procedural and Surgical patients
We are performing COVID testing on all patients who are having procedures or surgeries at the Chester County Hospital. That includes surgeries in our operating rooms as well as our cardiovascular areas and interventional radiology.
If a patient tests positive for COVID-19, will their procedure be canceled?
We know that for many patients, their procedures are essential, even life-saving. We're not performing the COVID test to suggest that you shouldn't have your procedure. We just want to be very sure that we are providing the safest care for you and for our healthcare workers.
Our new pavilion allows us the opportunity to separate patients we know have COVID from those who have tested negative. We have one operating room dedicated just for patient who have tested positive for COVID-19. And after the procedure, it is emptied and left standing for a full 90 minutes before we enter the room again to full clean it and sterilize. This 90-minute delay allows for a full air exchange to occur, leaving the suite free from COVID-19.
What is the visitation policy for procedural and surgical patients?
We know that you care about having a loved one with you before and after your procedure, which is why we are liberalizing our visitation policy so that you may have one member of your family or a loved one be with you immediately prior to your surgery and then afterword during your recuperation.
Precautions for Radiation Oncology Patients
Patient safety is paramount to care here in our department. We've taken a number of steps to ensure our patients are safely treated. We have instituted social distancing in our waiting area and the rooms are cleaned after every patient and the tables are wiped down.
We have switched to telemedicine for all of our follow up visits unless someone really needs to be seen. And we have also switched to telemedicine for our consultations and to make sure that if a patient really does need to be seen in consultation they come in with the appropriate factors in terms of making sure both the patient and staff are safe.
We still will see our patients once we’ve undergone treatment. Our nurses and physicians who examine patients have masks and goggles and gloves when appropriate.
Should radiation oncology patients continue with their treatment at this time?
As directed by your doctor it is important to continue with your cancer care. I know that it is very scary to have this whole pandemic, wearing masks and not having family members come in with you for your treatment or your consultation but rest assured, that in our department we are doing everything possible to ensure your safety while you are undergoing your radiation therapy treatment.
Precautions for Hematology Oncology patients
The Cancer Center continues to see patients who are actively undergoing treatment. You may be contacted by the Cancer Center prior to your appointment to convert your appointment to a telemedicine appointment. If you have a symptom or a physical exam finding that you are concerned about and want to be seen by a physician you should call the office and we would be happy to see you.
Given the public health risks surrounding COVID-19 and the potential risk to our immunocompromised patients, we unfortunately are not allowing visitors to the Cancer Center at this time. We realize that a diagnosis of cancer is difficult at any time and the current environment compounds the stress around the diagnosis of cancer. The physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and staff at the Cancer Center are committed to continue providing the best care to our patients in the safest possible environment.
Should hematology oncology patients continue undergoing screening studies?
Patients are wondering if they should continue to undergo screening studies at this time. This is a great question and over the last several weeks many screening studies were put on hold. More recently, radiology and other specialists are now performing these screening studies. Experts believe that it is important to continue to undergo these screening studies so that we are diagnosing at its earliest possible stage.
What can cancer patients do to avoid COVID-19 infection?
Like everyone else cancer patients should take the same precautions:
- Avoid crowded places
- Make sure that you are washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water
- Avoid touching your noise, eyes and mouth
- Avoid people that you know are feeling ill
- And if you are feeling ill you should contact your medical provider.
If you are in active treatment undergoing cancer chemotherapy, you should contact your medical oncologist to let them know that you are not feeling well.
If you are currently a cancer survivor and not undergoing active treatment, you should contact your primary care provider.
Perhaps the most common question we are hearing is, "Am I at increased risk for developing coronavirus because I have a diagnosis of cancer?"; We are still learning a lot more about the coronavirus and how it impacts our patients who have cancer, but we do know that patients who are undergoing treatment have a weakened immune system and may be more susceptible to the coronavirus. This seems especially true for patients with blood disorders, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myolema. These disorders affect the immune system and these patients appear to be more susceptible and have more serious reactions to the coronavirus.
Other patients who have underlying lung disease or who have lung cancer and patients receiving certain types of chemotherapy that affect their immune system can also be at risk for more serious complications from the coronavirus.
Precautions for Mammograms and Breast Screening patients
Those that have previously been to our Fern Hill center or our Southern Chester County center will notice immediately that when they come in for their exam they'll be greeted by one of our patient care techs who will sign them in so they will not have to touch any papers, pencils and whatnot here at our facility. They will ultimately be seen by the registrar to get everything registered and then in turn, if they have to take a seat in the waiting room, it is appropriately spaced so that there is enough distancing available.
Instead of hanging their garments within the changing room they're given a patient belonging bag that they just bring with them. We have two technicians that are here full time doing the cleaning. So, once that patient changes the room is closed off until it is properly cleaned. Once the images are complete, at that time as well, the mammogram room is then clean and cleansed. So going at a half schedule allows us to perform all of that cleaning after each and every patient.
Why is resuming mammogram screenings so important?
We know that, depending on what statistics that you look at, it is between 1 and 7 and 1 and 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer within their lifetime. And we feel as though it’s important to catch that at the earliest possible time that we can and screening mammogram allows for us to be able to do that.
Where can patients get mammograms and other radiology screenings performed?
As far as our facilities that are seeing patients, we have our Fern Hill Center, which has a myriad of radiography available such as MRI, PET/CT, general X RAY, DEXA, ultrasound, and mammography.
Our Southern Chester County site also has CT, MRI, DEXA, general radiography, mammography and ultrasound, as well.
And lastly the hospital has the full array of radiology exams available to both inpatient and outpatient patients that need the department's services.
Thank you for joining us for this COVID Conversation.
And remember, when you're inside, wear your mask.
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid touching your face
- Cover your cough and sneeze
- Practice social distancing