Frequently Asked Questions

Below is information about COVID-19 that is specific to patients and visitors of the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario.  For all general information about COVID-19 from Kingston Health Sciences Centre, please click here.

Questions (updated March 27, 2020):

  1. Is my clinic appointment at the Cancer Centre cancelled?
  2. I am receiving radiation treatments. What do I do?
  3. I have an appointment at the Ontario Breast Screening Clinic. Is it cancelled?
  4. Will my cancer surgery be cancelled? 
  5. How much medication should I keep on hand in case I can’t go to the clinic or pharmacy to pick up more?
  6. What are you doing to protect us from possible infection when we come for a visit?
  7. What can I do to prevent getting infected?
  8. As a patient on cancer treatment, should I wear a face mask?
  9. As a patient on cancer treatment, is it safe for me to go to work? To go outside?
  10. Is the George Street entrance to the Cancer Centre closed? How do I get in for my appointment?
  11. Can I still bring my family member to their appointment?
  12. I can’t get through on the phone. What do I do?
  13. My friend/family member is an inpatient on a cancer unit. Can I still visit?
  14. I am concerned I might have COVID-19. Should I go to a COVID-19 assessment centre?
  15. I am participating in a cancer clinical trial. Will my clinical trial still continue?
  16. I receive my care at a satellite site. Do these answers apply to me?

 

Answers:

 Is my clinic appointment at the Cancer Centre cancelled?

We are taking precautionary steps to protect our patients and keep our workforce as safe as possible.  One of these measures includes only maintaining appointments at the Cancer Centre that can’t be safely postponed. These appointments have been carefully reviewed by the care team and determined to be safe for postponement.  Patients who are impacted by this change will be contacted by phone.  These appointments will be re-booked when we’re safely able to expand the number of visits to the centre. If you have questions on the status of your appointment please contact your doctor’s office at the Cancer Centre.

I am receiving radiation treatments. What do I do?

Radiation appointments will continue as scheduled.

I have an appointment at the Ontario Breast Screening Clinic. Is it cancelled?

Patients with appointments scheduled are currently being contacted by the care team to have their appointment rescheduled for a later date. If you have any questions about screening during this time, please contact screening@cancercare.on.ca

Will my cancer surgery be cancelled? 

Time-sensitive care for certain cancers will continue to be provided. Your surgeon’s office will contact you if your upcoming surgery is impacted by circumstances beyond our control. We will make every effort to have your surgery done as quickly as possible.

How much medication should I keep on hand in case I can’t go to the clinic or pharmacy to pick up more?

Pharmacies are an essential service and will continue to be available to meet patient medication needs. At this time, it is not necessary to request additional refill quantities. Your community pharmacist may reduce the number of prescribed medication you receive to a 30-day supply at a time. This is to help ensure no medication shortages occur as a result of stockpiling of medications.

If you need your prescription delivered, please contact you dispensing pharmacy to ask about delivery options.

If you are running low on your prescription medication please ask your dispensing pharmacy to fax a refill request and we will process it as soon as we are able.

What are you doing to protect us from possible infection when we come for a visit?

We are taking many precautions, including limiting the number of people on-site and restricting access to the Cancer Centre. We are working closely with our Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) team to ensure the best practices are maintained to protect our patients, visitors and staff. This includes cleaning surfaces by the protocols recommended by IPC, limiting visitors, having active screening in place for symptoms of COVID-19 at all entrances and using the proper personal protective equipment (like masks and gowns) when needed.

What can I do to prevent getting infected?

There is a wide range of symptoms for people with COVID-19 ranging from no symptoms to severe pneumonia. It is possible that cancer patients are at a higher risk of more severe symptoms, particularly if on treatment or have a compromised immune system as a result of their cancer or its treatment.

Certain cancer survivors may have some lingering immune deficits and may be at risk for serious disease years after treatment, particularly those who have received transplants, and some patients with leukemia or lymphoma.

Like all members of the general public they should do their best to avoid infection. This includes:

  • Avoiding crowded public places
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water (20 to 30 sec)
  • Avoid touching their face
  • Covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoiding others who are unwell
  • Staying home when sick

Patients on chemotherapy who have had a stem cell transplantation or may need to take further precautions such as making efforts to minimize trips out of the house (e.g. consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social or commercial networks).

As a patient on cancer treatment, should I wear a face mask?

No. A face mask should not be worn unless you are symptomatic.

As a patient on cancer treatment, is it safe for me to go to work? To go outside?

Social distancing is recommended for our patients to limit the risk of acquiring COVID-19. This includes limiting crowded and closed spaces — these scenarios include a crowded bus or train, movie theaters, malls, sporting arenas, restaurants, etc. Read about additional measures you can take to practice social distancing here

If work puts you in close contact with other people (i.e. healthcare, retail service), it is recommended that you not be at work if you can at all avoid it.  If you are able to work remotely from home, this is encouraged.

However, cancer patients on treatment may also be at an increased risk of blood clots and other complications from lack of movement.  Staying active during this time is important, and at the current time you can still leave home. You may plan to take walks around the neighborhood (keeping more than two meters away from others) and go grocery shopping during off-peak hours if it cannot be done by someone else. If you do your own grocery shopping make sure you bring your own grocery bags, disinfect cart handles, and wash hands or use hand sanitizer after using the cart. The most important action you can take to protect yourself is prevention; hand hygiene is critical.

Is the George Street entrance to the Cancer Centre closed? How do I get in for my appointment?

Yes, the George Street entrance to the Cancer Centre is closed. All patients are to use the Burr 0 main entrance, located at 25 King Street West, to enter and exit the Cancer Centre. There is active screening in place at this entrance.

Ambulatory cancer patients who require assistance to their appointment may be accompanied by one adult caregiver. This caregiver will also undergo screening at the entrance and only permitted to enter if they pass the screening process. The goal is to encourage non-essential people to avoid the hospital. 

If you are a driver of a patient, please ensure you have made arrangements for the patient to contact you when their appointment has finished and they are ready to leave. Drivers are not permitted to enter the building with the patient.

Who can come with me to my appointment?

It is crucial that we keep our patients and workforce as safe as possible. To help us do this, we are restricting all visitors – including family members of patients – to the Cancer Centre. You may be able to use technology to have your family listen or be ‘virtually’ present for an appointment, but please inform your treating physician.

Ambulatory cancer patients who require assistance may be accompanied by one adult caregiver. This caregiver will also undergo screening at the entrance to the Cancer Centre and only permitted to enter if they pass the screening process.

Patient drivers are not permitted to enter the building with the patient. If you have a driver, please ensure you have made arrangements so they are aware when your appointment has finished and you are ready to leave.

I can’t get through on the phone. What do I do?

We are experiencing a high volume of calls. We understand that this is frustrating at this uncertain time. Thank you for your patience as our staff work to answer questions and re-book appointments. 

If you are a patient on active treatment and experiencing a symptom after 4pm and require immediate assistance please call CAREChart@home at 1-877-681-3057 to speak to a specialized cancer care nurse.  

If you have general questions about COVID-19 please visit Public Health here or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

My friend/family member is an in-patient on a cancer unit. Can I still visit?

We are only allowing one essential visitor per patient until further notice. An essential visitor are those who have a patient who is dying or very ill, a patient/guardian of an ill child or youth, a support person of a patient undergoing surgery or a woman giving birth. The goal is to encourage non-essential people to avoid the hospital. 

While we know you want to support your friend/family member, we strongly suggest you consider rescheduling your visit or turning it into a virtual visit if possible. Access to the Kingston General Hospital site is restricted to the main entrance, located near 104 Stuart Street, and you will be screened for symptoms upon arrival. As always, do not visit if you are unwell.

I am concerned I might have COVID-19. Should I go to a COVID-19 assessment centre?

No. Please do not visit the recently opened public COVID-19 assessment centres.

If you have a fever or other symptoms of infection and are on cancer treatment, go to your nearest Emergency Department.

If you are not on cancer treatment and are experiencing symptoms that may be COVID-19 please contact your doctor’s office immediately between 8 am and 4 pm. 

If you are a patient on active treatment and experiencing symptoms after 4pm and require immediate assistance please call CAREChart@home at 1-877-681-3057 to speak to a specialized cancer care nurse.  

If you are not on active treatment and have questions about COVID-19 please call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

I am participating in a cancer clinical trial. Will my clinical trial still continue?

Cancer clinical trial participants on active treatment will continue to be treated as directed by your Study Investigator (treating cancer physician). Please ensure that you identify as a ‘Cancer Research Study Participant’ and present your study participant wallet card to all healthcare professionals while you are receiving study treatment.

If you are a study participant on follow-up for the research study, your follow-up will be done over the phone. The research team and staff will be contacting you directly to arrange this. If questionnaires need to be completed, they will be mailed to you one week in advance. A return self-stamped envelope will be provided to return completed questionnaires.

If you have any questions or concerns related to your clinical trial, please contact the research study staff listed on your wallet card or email CC-ClinicalTrials@KingstonHSC.ca

I receive my care at a satellite site. Do these answers apply to me?

All satellite sites are taking similar precautions as the Cancer Centre on limiting access, restricting the number of visitors at their hospital, and screening at entrance points. However, we strongly encourage you to speak with staff at the specific site on their protocols.  Otherwise, as a patient receiving cancer treatment, all of the recommendations above still apply to you.