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Beyond Critical Cancer Care, Are Healthcare Visits a Risk?

Beyond Critical Cancer Care, Are Healthcare Visits a Risk?
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Published on June 15, 2020

Should cancer patients leave home during this pandemic—especially for cancer treatments that might be lifesaving or life-extending? And if so, when? 

Over the past 10 weeks, medical advice has been evolving. First, it was to stay home and visit through telemedicine; then it was fine to have blood tests at nearby facilities; and then it was okay to go to clinics and offices, as long as you spaced out your tests and infusions.

Now that has changed. Cancer facilities are inviting patients back for tests and treatments and now—or soon—for routine in-person visits.

But what about our other medical needs? Should we go to the dentist for teeth cleaning and to avoid gum infections? What about doctors for our heart or diabetes? What about something as routine as the eye doctor? 

I made my own decisions this week. I DID go to the dentist for a cleaning. And I DID go to the eye doctor. Let me tell you how it went:

The dental office secretary wore a mask and filled out a form as she asked questions about symptoms, travel and the like. I answered no to everything. Only then was I admitted. No other patients were there—just me, the dental assistant and the dentist. They were gloved and masked. Truthfully, I felt protected and comfortable and I was glad my dental health status was being monitored.

As for my eye doctor, I’ve always noticed I am the youngest person in the waiting room. His patients are typically old and infirm—definitely people at risk. On this visit, I was stopped outside the door by a screener wearing a mask who took temperatures and asked questions. Inside, there were only 3 to 4 people in the waiting room, tremendously spaced out; most chairs were marked off. On the clinical side of the office, everyone was masked and busily wiping down eye exam and testing equipment. Again, I felt protected. Air purifiers and ionizers were running everywhere. 

Before I left, I noted to my young eye surgeon that he serves a vulnerable population. His response was memorable: “I can tell you I lose sleep about this a lot, worrying if anything I do here or at our practice could infect one of our patients.” He added that he was really hoping what they were doing—a lot—was enough. 

I really believe most healthcare teams, beyond our cancer care, are looking out, both for us—and for themselves. I’m glad I’m venturing out to get appropriate health needs handled and that my providers are protecting me in the process. 

What’s your story? Tell us at comments@patientpower.info.

~Andrew Schorr


Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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