Covid-19: Oncology at Hospital de Santarém changed procedures without affecting patient care

The covid-19 pandemic forced the oncology service of the Santarém District Hospital to change some procedures, but no treatment was canceled and, says its director, the monitoring of all patients is ensured.

With a mask on her face, like all professionals and all users who arrive at the hospital on the day of the service to receive chemotherapy, immunotherapy or hormone treatments, Sandra Bento told Lusa that cancellations and postponed consultations were “minimal” .

“We started to do some follow-up visits by phone to prevent the patient from going to the hospital. We always decide on a case-by-case basis and with the possibility of rescheduling in person, if the patient, after the telephone consultation, had complaints that justified coming to the hospital ”, he explained.

In cases where analysis with tumor markers is necessary, patients started to go to the hospital just to collect the samples and, when the result was known, the consultation started to be made by telephone, as is the case with those who need it do TAC.

“This already reduced the number of users here and already allowed some distance, because our waiting room is not very large and we also did not want people to come to the hospital,” he said.

The treatments were maintained, with the exception of palliative care in institutionalized patients, who were postponed to avoid the “malice” of forcing them to 15 days of isolation in their homes for traveling to the hospital.

“They were the only ones that were postponed. In the rest, we have always kept it running, ”he said.

Ramiro Antunes, sitting in one of the chairs of a room that does not allow for large spacing between patients, goes every week to treat lung cancer.

It is the second time, after the breast cancer that appeared five years ago, which is followed in the service of Oncology of the Hospital District of Santarém (HDS).

The pandemic only changed his routines, at home, on the street and when coming to the hospital, where, like everyone who enters the building, he started to measure his temperature and frequent disinfection of his hands and the use of a mask became mandatory .

“They give me the treatment as they did five years ago. Equal. Perfectly the same. I am very happy, in addition to the disease, I am very happy to be accompanied by this magnificent nursing team ”, he told Lusa.

The team of 11 nurses, technical assistants and secretaries dedicated only to Oncology, with accumulated experience in a service created in the 1990s and operating in the current space since 2006, guarantee stability in the face of a medical situation that Sandra Bento admits is short.

With approximately 1,500 new cases of cancer per year, the service has two oncologists on a full schedule and several on a service basis that complete another 40 hours / week.

“In terms of workload, it's like three. We would need a little more ”, he said, stressing the difficulty in hiring a specialty that is still“ very poor and very requested ”.

In addition to the day hospital, specialists are part of the units dedicated to oncological surgery, such as Senology, a pioneer in radical mastectomies and accredited as a reference center, where two hundred new cases of breast cancer arrive each year, and cancer of the straight, recognized as a center of excellence.

In 2019, the service evaluated about 2,000 patients in consultation, 600 of whom were in active treatment, covering Hospital de Santarém in a region with about 240,000 inhabitants.

Patients arrive at the Oncology service after the evaluation made in a group consultation, which includes several specialties – surgery, radiotherapy, anatomy, imaging, oncology -, being assured, “always, that the treatment is done on time and in a timely manner”, stressed Sandra Bento.

With the pandemic, patients were also tested for covid-19.

“So far, no case has been positive, fortunately, neither in patients nor in our professionals,” he said.


The Covid-19: Oncology content of Hospital de Santarém changed procedures without affecting assistance to patients appears first in Visão.

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