In an effort to reduce the need for vulnerable people to attend hospital during the coronavirus pandemic, eligible patients undergoing cancer treatment at the Royal Adelaide Hospital can receive chemotherapy at home through the chemo@home program.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said this was one of a number of measures to help reduce the risk, especially given that the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) is the primary site for providing hospital care to COVID-19 patients.
“Ensuring vulnerable South Australians are protected from unnecessary travel and exposure is part of the government’s strong plan to protect the community during the coronavirus pandemic,” Minister Wade said.
“Patients with cancer are particularly vulnerable because of the nature of the disease and treatment, so a significant effort has been made to minimise the number of patients who need to come to hospital,” Minister Wade said.
“In the first four weeks of this initiative, 29 patients have been able to sign up to the chemo@home program, and have completed 105 sessions, including treatment and telehealth consults.
“This is an excellent outcome for these patients. I commend the work that has been done by staff to ensure cancer patients still receive the best possible care, despite the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Central Adelaide Local Health Network Cancer Program Medical Lead, Dr Tim Price, said all cancer patients are continuing to receive treatment and any clinical changes to their regime are discussed with them.
“Our medical staff have been reviewing their lists and providing consults via telehealth wherever possible, and appointments for supportive medications that would have usually occurred at the RAH have also been moved offsite,” Dr Price said.
“In addition, some oncology and haematology services have temporarily moved from the RAH to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, including the transfer of 20 inpatient beds. So, where we would normally have 60 or more inpatients at the RAH, the numbers have reduced to between 20 and 30 patients.
“While these measures are designed to help reduce the risk for patients, maintaining a safe social distance and good hand hygiene is key in protecting yourself against COVID-19.”
Delivering chemotherapy to eligible patients at home has been made available thanks to a partnership with private provider chemo@home.
Managing Director, Julie Adams, said patients usually find having chemotherapy in their home a more convenient, relaxed and comfortable experience.
“Chemotherapy is quite taxing on patients and there are many advantages of having treatment at home,” Ms Adams said.
“With the added worry of the coronavirus pandemic, the overwhelming response from patients involved has been a sense of relief that they don’t have to travel or risk exposure in a hospital environment.”
As not all patients will be eligible for chemo@home, patients should discuss their options with their treating clinician.