When the Provincial Health Officer and the Ministry of Health declared the province was going to the highest state of emergency preparedness with respect to the novel coronavirus, a number of safety precautions were engaged at BC Cancer to limit the risk of exposure to BC Cancer patients and staff.
Our commitment to patients across the province remained, and continues to remain, our first priority to ensure patients received the care they needed. The work done at BC Cancer is life enhancing, life preserving and life-saving – cancer care does not stop in the midst of COVID-19. Radiation and systemic (chemotherapy) treatments continued at BC Cancer with safety guidelines in place.
BC Cancer implemented universal active screening for all people entering the building including staff and contractors. We enhanced cleaning procedures and implemented an essential visitor policy across all centres to protect vulnerable patients who are at risk of developing more severe symptoms associated with the disease. As COVID-19 persists, these measures remain in place. To further reduce the footprint of people within our centres, prescriptions were mailed to patients and some appointments were conducted virtually either on the phone or by video. Approximately 70 per cent of BC Cancer appointments were done through Virtual Health; at some centres this number is closer to 90 per cent. Services including art therapy programs also moved online as did teaching resources.
Some services including cancer screening were temporarily suspended to minimize the risk of transmission in healthy people and allow the health system to focus resources on urgent and emergent care. Now as resources are redirected, BC Cancer looks to thoughtfully and gradually resume some services. As of June 8, fecal immunochemical testing (F.I.T.), part of the early screening process for colon cancer, has resumed. Eligible patients can pick up FIT kits from any public or private lab across the province with a referral from their health care provider. Anyone who had picked up a FIT kit at the time of the testing suspension and have not completed it can now complete the test and return it to the lab. For regularly updated information regarding screening services, visit the COVID-19 & Cancer Screening website. Additional services are under review for possible resumption as BC Cancer and the province move into a recovery phase. Safety precautions taking place inside the centres will continue.
For up-to-date information about BC Cancer COVID-19 guidelines, visit COVID-19 & Cancer: Information for Patients at bccancer.bc.ca/covid19.