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Cancer Care in the Time of COVID-19

Authored by

Randall A Oyer, MD, ACCC President 2020-2021

Citation

J Clin Pathways. 2020;6(3):24.

ACCCAs a community-spread disease, coronavirus 2019 shows us the importance of community—from global, national, state, local, workplace, and individual perspectives. 

On March 11, 2020, World Health Organization officially announced that COVID-19 was a global pandemic. This brings home the reality that across borders and boundaries, we are not only part of a global economy, we are also members of a global community. COVID-19 has brought to the fore health challenges that have needed a concerted response globally and locally.

Our national response to this threat has focused us not on our differences but our common needs, requiring cooperation and participation from everyone in response to the imperative to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 spread. Local communities across the country have come together, putting the common good foremost in behaviors by following local restrictions to dampen the effect of coronavirus disease. 

The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) represents all individuals involved in the delivery of cancer care in all settings—from small private practices and clinics, to large academic centers and tertiary care facilities. ACCC is a community dedicated to ensuring patient access to quality care close to home. As a population, cancer patients, most of whom are older than 65 years, often have additional comorbid conditions, and—if in active treatment—are immune-suppressed, and at greater risk of worse outcomes from COVID-19. 

As events have unfolded over recent months, ACCC members have connected through ACCCExchange—our online member community—asking questions, sharing resources and experiences, and offering support in delivering quality cancer care during this unprecedented health crisis. 

ACCC member programs in areas hardest hit have posted their in-the-trenches advice to those just beginning to feel the impact of COVID-19. Posts from Atlanta to northern California, from New Jersey to Oregon, from Houston to Pennsylvania have responded to queries such as: COVID 19 - What is YOUR Practice Doing? Are you rescheduling patients?  Discussion continues on tips for managing virtual cancer conferences, curbside screening, managing workflow in the midst of COVID-19, and more. 

Past ACCC President Jennie Crews, MD, MMM, FACP, shared practical tips from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance while in the thick of the COVID-19 outbreak (Box 1).

b1

Our COVID-19 Resources page brings together knowledge, experience, and information from leading organizations in oncology, such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society for Radiation Oncology, Oncology Nursing Society; in health care and public health, including the American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and regulatory agencies, such as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Food and Drug Administration, among others.

In the months to come, ACCC will continue to support and connect oncology stakeholders locally, at the state level, and nationally. Together we are stronger.

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