Caring for cancer patients during the pandemic

WWNY Caring for cancer patients during the pandemic

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A cancer diagnosis is scary any time, but it's especially so with COVID-19, which could wreak havoc on someone with a compromised immune system.

That’s why the Walker Center for Cancer Care at Watertown’s Samaritan Medical Center is limiting who, besides patients, can go inside. 7 News wasn’t allowed in, but everyone who can go in, is first being screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

"If it's our patient, we have kind of a quarantine area that we are able to move them to for a quick assessment. That way they are not exposing anyone in the treatment hallways," said Joni Pitcher, center director.

Pitcher says people who have cancers of the immune system, like lymphoma, are at higher risk of getting the virus. Chemotherapy and radiation can have an effect too.

"When you have cancer and you are in treatment for cancer, patients and all of us are very concerned about their immune system because the treatments tend to reduce it," she said.

To protect patients outside of the facility, Pitcher says those being treated are being advised to follow many of the measures they are already familiar with.

“Keep distance, stay home. If you’re in crowds, wear a mask and gloves. Avoid crowds if you can,” said Pitcher.

Pitcher says the treatment center is also doing some appointments over the phone and pushing back others for a safer time.

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