Galit Hirsh-Yechezkel PhD, Angela Chetrit MHA, Sivan Ben Avraham MSc, Abed Agbarya MD, Alexander Yakobson MD, Noam Asna MD, Gil Bar-Sela MD, Irit Ben-Aharon MD PhD, Noa Efrat Ben-Baruch MD, Raanan Berger MD PhD, Ronen Brenner MD, Maya Gottfried MD, Shani Paluch-Shimon MBBS MSc, Raphael Pfeffer MD, Aron Popovtzer MD, Larisa Ryvo MD, Valeriya Semenisty MD, Ayelet Shai MD PhD, Katerina Shulman MD, Jamal Zidan MD, and Ido Wolf MD
Background: The increased susceptibility of cancer patients to coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) infections and complications calls for special precautions while treating cancer patients during COVID-19 pandemics. Thus, oncology departments have had to implement a wide array of prevention measures.
Objectives: To address issues associated with cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic and to assess the implementation of measures aimed at containment of COVID-19 diffusion while allowing continuation of quality cancer care.
Methods: A national survey among oncology departments in Israel was conducted between 12 April 2020 and 14 April 2020. Eighteen heads of hospital-based oncology departments completed a self-report questionnaire regarding their institute's preparedness for treatment of cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Results: In this national survey, prevention measures against COVID-19 spread were taken prior to patients' arrival and at arrival or while staying in the departments. Most participants (78–89%) reported using a quick triage of patients and caregivers prior to their entrance to the oncology units, limiting the entrance of caregivers, and reducing unnecessary visits to the clinic. Switching to oral therapies rather than intravenous ones when possible was considered by 82% and shortage in personal protective equipment was reported by five (28%) heads of oncology departments. Some differences between large and small/medium sized medical centers were observed regarding issues related to COVID-19 containment measures and changes in treatment.
Conclusions: Oncology departments in Israel were able to prepare and adapt their services to guidelines and requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic with little harm to their treatment capacity