Palestine Radiation therapy staff fighting cancer during the pandemic




The Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), located in East Jerusalem, is the only Palestinian hospital with radiation therapy facility that covers almost 6 million people in West bank and Gaza.  The Radiation Therapy staff are committed to working under any circumstances to fulfill their role in the battle against cancer.

The AVH, like all other medical centers, was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning of outbreak of the pandemic, an emergency committee was formed by CEO of the hospital with the participation of the head of radiation therapy department. The aim is to keep the service of the hospital running for cancer patients while preventing spread of the COVID-19 within hospital staff and patients. All elective cases, cold synergiess at the hospital were cancelled. For the radiation therapy clear protocol was put to keep the department functioning with the minimal risk of infection that consisted of rescheduling of all the cases that were considered not urgent such as prostate and breast, the use of more  Hypo fractionated ragmen, and to maximizing the use of PPEs.

In the cooperation with Infection Control Committee (ICC), the suspected and infected COVID-19 radiation patient pathway was followed in the department
Medical physicists working in radiotherapy were divided in two groups, alternating every 14 days. During this first period (March to May 2020) there was a reduction in the patient number treated. In May 2020 the patient number started to increase, medical physicists became one group again returning to routine work, taking all safety precautions recommended by the Ministry of Health and the infection control committee of the hospital.

All patients were treated by doctors, radiation therapists and medical physicists as if they were COVID-19 positive.  Face masks and face shields were always used during any close contact with treated patients.

The on-treatment visit (OTVs) were done remotely by phone, and the in-clinic visits were minimized. No change was observed regarding QA procedures for RT machines, as everything was done as before the pandemic. The use of the newly delivered RT dosimetry equipment was postponed, since the medical physicist training by the application specialist was also postponed until the pandemic subsides.

As for today we are refunctioning with maximum capacity with very low number of infected cases within the department.

Mr. Ismail AbuAwwad
Chief Medical Physicist
Augusta Victoria hospital – Palestine
 


October 18th 2020
mefomp reporter



              


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