As we observed National Cancer Survivors Day on Sunday, doctors and clinicians at Abrazo Health want to remind our community about the importance of keeping or rescheduling cancer screening and treatment appointments that may have been missed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Early diagnosis of many types of cancer can greatly increase the chance of successful treatment. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, appointments for screenings of cervix, colon and breast cancers were down between 86% and 94% compared to average volumes in the three years before, according to Epic Health Research.
Abrazo hospitals and outpatient centers have protocols in place to safely treat patients with oncologic needs during this pandemic.
The Kaiser Health Foundation found that nearly half of all Americans said they or a family member has skipped or delayed medical care because of the pandemic, and 11 percent of them said the person’s condition worsened as a result of the delayed care.
We want the community to know that we have strict protocols in place to safely care for patients, and completely separate pathways for COVID and non-COVID patients in all of our facilities. If you have missed, or are behind schedule for an important screening, like a mammogram or colonoscopy, you should not delay rescheduling these procedures.
The Breast Health Center Abrazo Central Campus offers 3D mammography in a calming, upscale environment. The hospital’s Breast Health Center is decorated in a soothing theme with a warm, quiet environment, with private dressing areas and a relaxing lounge area.
Whether you are at an increased risk for breast cancer, including individuals with mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, or you just missed your regular screening mammogram due to COVID-19, now is the time to call your physician or breast center and get back on the schedule. We have taken the proper steps to ensure patients who come to our hospitals or diagnostic centers for any screenings or procedures will be taken care of in a safe and secure environment.
Abrazo’s COVID safety standards were developed with key principles in mind to maximize safety — maintain vigilance of all potential risks, create separate care pathways and take a multi-factor approach to maintaining a safe environment for patients and visitors. They are a rigorous combination of infection prevention processes, training, testing, personal protective equipment and technology.
Standards include the following components:
• Distinct COVID safety zones and COVID care zones — separate areas with clear signage and protocols.
• Rigorous physician and staff protocols — daily screening, universal masking and access to PPE.
• Heightened sanitization — enhanced cleaning of surfaces and plenty of hand sanitization stations.
• Access to COVID-19 testing — in-house, rapid testing for patients, physicians and staff who require it.
• Precautions for patients and visitors — provision of facemasks, hand sanitizer and physical distancing.
• Enhanced virtual access — virtual care, remote monitoring as well as connectivity with loved ones.
Our COVID safety standards will help patients confidently seek care at our hospitals and allow our community to be less worried for loved ones. We are providing the reassurance that our patients, staff and their families deserve.
I am proud of our team’s work to implement and optimize these standards to provide care for patients in the safest environment possible.
Sherry R. Gage, RTRM, is director of oncology services at Abrazo Central Campus in Phoenix. For more information or to schedule a screening mammogram, visit AbrazoHealth.com or call 602-824-4673.