As the region’s largest cancer care provider, New York Oncology Hematology is urging anyone who has postponed cancer-related surgeries or procedures to schedule right away, now that the New York State Department of Health has granted waivers for area hospitals to re-start elective, out-patient surgeries.
“Cancer treatment can’t wait for the end of COVID-19,” said Ira Zackon, MD, President, NYOH. “We know the earlier cancer is detected, the better the treatment outcomes. If you or a loved one have been waiting to have a cancer-related surgery or procedure, we encourage you to get scheduled.”
A new report, by the Epic Health Research Network, shows that cancer screening rates plummeted since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The analysis looked at 2.7 million patients, with data pooled from 39 health systems representing 190 hospitals spanning 23 states. Findings suggest that screenings for cancer such as breast, cervical and colon cancer have dropped more than 85% in March, compared to January, 2020.
Once cancer is detected, by screening, procedure or surgery, the next step is treatment. And Dr. Zackon says that because NYOH’s community-based office settings allow procedures that ensure patient safety.
“While we no longer permit visitors to accompany patients to visits and treatment, all of our offices have front door drop off and pick up,” he explains. “We also provide medical office dispensing, so patients can get prescriptions right at the office, saving a trip to a grocery store or pharmacy.”
In addition, Dr. Zackon says the entire NYOH team has been wearing N95 masks since early April. And if patients arrive without a mask, one is provided immediately, free of charge.
Zackon says the practice is providing more virtual visits to both new and existing patients, reducing the number of times a patient needs to come into an office.
Hopeful the state's next step will be permitting specialists to re-start in-office screenings, such as mammograms, Dr. Zackon also believes that independent, outpatient surgical centers are also given the green light to open up to help address the backlog of procedures and surgeries that were postponed over the past six weeks.