Words from Juno Choe, MD, Ph.D.
Medical Director at Eastern Oregon Cancer Center at Pendleton
In these unprecedented times, I see such incredible strength and courage in our patients and our community. As we have been asked to temporarily give up our way of life to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, I see our community doing our part for the greater good. We are distancing ourselves from friends, loved ones, jobs, and places of worship to help fight this global pandemic. In so doing, we are keeping each other safe and helping to prevent our medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed.
Similarly, at Eastern Oregon Cancer Center (EOCC), we are doing everything we can to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a relatively small center, only three to four staff members interact with patients. We are screening our patients regularly to ensure that they do not have concerning symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Whenever possible, we are asking patients to stay at home to recover from their illnesses. We are practicing telemedicine using video-based calls over apps such as Apple Facetime, as well as other forms of communication for many physician visits.
For our daily radiation treatments, we are spacing out appointments to try to minimize overlap between patients. We are limiting visitors to only one per patient, and we are asking all patients and visitors to wash their hands with soap upon entering. We are opening the door for patients to minimize contact with handles, and we have spread out the available seating to create some “social distance.” Throughout the day, we are wiping down seats and all surfaces that come in contact with patients every one to two hours with bleach wipes. We are well stocked with masks, gowns, and hand sanitizer (and even toilet paper) and are deploying them throughout the clinic in appropriate settings. Finally, the staff at EOCC have largely been quarantining ourselves between home and work to minimize our risk of exposure to COVID-19.
We appreciate your patience as we continue to treat cancer patients daily while instituting protocols to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Please do not hesitate to offer suggestions on how we can improve during these extraordinary times. Please know that our top priority is ensuring the safety of our community and our patients as we continue to battle cancer every day.
Juno Choe, MD PhD