Hospitals taking steps to protect cancer patients at risk during COVID-19 outbreak

Many cancer patients with compromised immune systems are worried about exposure to COVID-19. Doctors at Orlando Health are now offering virtual visits for patients. 

One patient taking advantage of virtual doctor's visits is 26-year-old Krista Robeson. She was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma in March 2019. Robeson has been cancer-free for six months. Now, as she's in remission, she's worried about the COVID-19 outbreak. 

"The fear of relapse is something that’s constant for me," Robeson said. "My first year following treatment is when I’m most at risk for relapsing. It’s something I’m dealing with on a day-to-day basis and throw a pandemic in there it heightens everything."

Robeson is trying to limit her exposure and stay home, so she's seeing her oncologist virtually. 

"These are appointments that are crucial," Robeson said. "So they’re not appointments that I can just push off to a later date when things calm down."

Dr. Daniel Landau, an oncologist with Orlando Health says his patients have compromised immune systems and are at high risk. He's utilizing virtual visits with his patients where he can video chat with them to go over things like blood work, imaging or complications with chemotherapy treatment. 
"We can do that from this platform from the comfort of their home and limit the amount of time they spend in the hospital, limit the amount of time they have to spend to drive to and from here," said Dr. Landau. 

Orlando Health's Cancer Center is taking steps to keep their facilities safe for patients who need to come in for chemotherapy treatments. Doctors are taking extra precations and wearing more protective gear. 

"We are screening everyone, taking temperatures, checking travel history to try and make sure we’re limiting from people or even family members who may be high risk," said Dr. Landau.