Covid-19 - Open Letter to patients of SLRON

An Open letter to our Radiation Cancer Patients      
 
We know this is a very uncertain time and many emotions and stresses are being added to what you are already experiencing with your cancer care and recovery.  
 
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus. We are still learning about it every day. This is an evolving situation and everyday our services are responding to the needs of our patients.  
 
St. Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network (SLRON) provides a comprehensive Radiation Oncology Service across 3 locations - St. Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar, St. Luke’s Radiation Oncology Centre at St. James’ Hospital and St. Luke’s Radiation Oncology Centre at Beaumont Hospital. SLRON treats approximately 4500 new cancer patients per year with cutting edge treatments using 14 linear accelerators. At present during this COVID-19 pandemic 260-300 patients are attending SLRON per day for radiation treatment.  Complex largely national services continue to be provided at SLRON including Stereotactic Intracranial Brain Radiation Therapy, Stereotactic Lung Radiation Therapy, Ocular Brachytherapy, Total Body Irradiation, Paediatric Radiation Oncology and Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy. 
 
In Ireland over the past 10 years we have seen huge advances in cancer care with improved survival outcomes for our patients, who are increasingly living long fulfilling lives after successful cancer treatment. It is important for us to ensure your cancer outcomes are maximised while aiming to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection for both you the patient and our staff. 
 
I want to provide assurances to you as I appreciate you may be concerned about attending for a routine appointments or radiation therapy during this COVID-19 pandemic.  
 
Importantly radiation therapy is safe to deliver in this COVID-19 pandemic. Radiation therapy because of our ability to better target the treatment results in less immunosuppressive effects than other cancer treatments and we have been able to continue to provide a comprehensive radiation service to our patients during this time.  Please do not be concerned or fearful to attend for treatment. We have in place robust plans to protect patients and staff from contracting COVID-19 infection. Although we know people are still at risk of contracting the virus our primary aim is to limit this and slow the spread for our cancer patients and staff. It is important that you continue your cancer treatment and follow the advice of your consultant. 
 
In the last number of weeks, St Luke’s and its sites at Beaumont and St James’s Hospital have introduced a number of initiatives to achieve this; 
 
1. Reduced foot fall in the centres. 2. Moving clinics and consults to virtual clinics.  3. Protecting staff and patients by the use of ppe equipment for front line staff in direct contact with patients. 4. Checking (triaging) patients when they arrive at the centre to ensure they are COVID-19 symptom free.  5. Separate entrances to the radiation centres from the main hospitals with restriction of access to the main hospitals such as in St James’s and Beaumont hospitals. 6. New patients are being phoned the day before they come in for planning appointments or treatment to check their status and allow them to ask any questions. 7. Patient appointments have been spaced out over a longer day to avoid busy waiting areas, strict physical distancing is in place for patients in the waiting rooms and for staff. 8. Staff are divided into two groups to minimise any potential cross contamination. 

There has been very important advice provided by the HSE for Cancer Patients to protect themselves and their carers or if they have interactions with volunteers. This is important advice as it will reduce your own risk of getting the virus and will reduce your chances of passing it on to someone else. You can visit www.HSE.ie. Please follow this advice as strictly as possible and encourage others to follow this advice too.  
 
In addition, patients can also avail of a free psychological support service for cancer patients and families experiencing distress during the COVID-19 emergency and can be reached by ringing support line 1-800 200 700 or cancernurse@irishcancer.ie. This is the recently launched Together 4 Cancer Concern is a collaboration between the NCCP, Cancer Care West and the Irish Cancer Society.  
 
I would like to acknowledge the strong dedication of all disciplines of staff that are working in SLRON. I especially want to sincerely thank all our staff dealing front line with patients from the doctors and nurses to the therapists on the machines, administrative staff, porters and cleaners they are all doing a fantastic job in a very stressful environment.  
 
Finally, I would like to wish you all the very best over the coming weeks as you continue your cancer journey. We as a network are always available to advise and support you during this time. 
 
Kind Regards Take Care, 
 
Dr Clare Faul Network Director and Clinical Director St Luke’s Radiation Oncology network. 
 

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  • St Luke's Hospital
  • Highfield Road
  • Rathgar
  • Dublin 6
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