To our pediatric oncology patients and families:
No doubt you are well aware of the serious pandemic the world is experiencing from the COVID-19 virus. Your safety and the safety of our clinic staff are our highest priority and we are committed to keeping our clinic space free from infections. For now, we are limiting in person visits to patients on active cancer therapy or those whose doctor feels that it is very important that they be seen in person. We are in the process of developing the ability to do visits over the phone for patients who don’t require in-person visits. Additionally, we ask that you help keep our clinic safe by limiting the number of people accompanying your child to one parent/guardian. Siblings are not allowed. If this is a hardship for you or if it is very important to you that more than one adult be able to talk to your health care provider at your visit, please notify us prior to your visit.
If your child is on active therapy for cancer, it is as important as ever that you notify us if your child has a fever or respiratory symptoms. Testing availability and recommendations are changing daily and we will assist you if your child requires testing for COVID-19. For the safety of our staff, we will not be collecting respiratory samples in our clinic, as there are other local options for immunosuppressed patients to safely get this test. If you do require an in-person visit at Alaska Pediatric Oncology, you will be asked to notify us before arrival if your child has fever, cough, runny nose, or trouble breathing.
Many of you have asked us how to protect your child during this time. First, preliminary information about this new virus is that children do not seem to get nearly as sick from it as many older (over 80 years old) adults. Influenza is still very present in Alaska right now and you have likely been doing many things since your child’s cancer diagnosis to protect your family from viruses. Please continue to do what you have been doing, and wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when hand washing is not possible. Of course, limit your child’s contact with people with known respiratory illnesses and infections. We encourage your family to follow CDC guidelines for “social distancing” and avoiding large gatherings of people. None of this is new if you have an immunosuppressed person in your home!
Finally, we want you to be aware of some changes happening at Providence Alaska Medical Center because of this outbreak. It is anticipated that many adults in our community may require intense medical treatment for this infection, which will result in our local hospitals being very busy. To minimize the spread of infection at the hospital, Providence has a new policy prohibiting visitors with the exception of parents/guardians of patients admitted to The Children’s Hospital at Providence, and one person accompanying a patient being treated in the Emergency Department. In addition, patients and families can only enter the hospital at the main entrance, Emergency Department, or Health Park main entrance (Piper Street). Screening with a temperature check will be required prior to entry.
We want to emphasize that as always, doctors and nurses from Alaska Pediatric Oncology are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions. Please don’t hesitate to call!
We wish you all the best in staying healthy during this time.
Your Alaska Pediatric Oncology Team