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Healthwatch 16: Treatment during pandemic

Health professionals had to balance treating cancer patients with keeping everyone safe from COVID-19.

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, medical facilities made the decision to stop elective procedures. They had to think more carefully about cancer patients, striking a balance between keeping people safe and treating the cancer.

One doctor says his team was able to do both.

"How do we minimize exposure to patients? At the same time, how do we not miss follow-ups or diagnosis or effects of treatment or whether they're cured or not?" asked Dr. Anand Mahadevan, a radiation oncologist with Geisinger Health System. "Even more important, what happens when the patients do have cancer? We can just throw up our hands and say we can't do treatment, right? We did by bringing them in and using lots of added regulations."

Dr. Mehadevan said that once the decision was made to treat the cancer, for instance, with radiation, they had to see that through.

"We're able to resume cases in routine care, number one. And number two, we're doing more today as well."

According to Dr. Mahadevan, the radiation team was able to treat patients. They simply had to take extra precautions, such as the use of more personal protective equipment, just as one example.

However, many screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies did have to be postponed. He says they'll have to wait and see what effect will come from that.