Palestine Radiation therapy staff fighting cancer during the pandemic

The Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), located in Jerusalem, is the only hospital in Palestine that can provide radiation therapy for cancer patients. Therefore, all cancer patients from Gaza and the West Bank come to this hospital for receiving radiation therapy. The Radiation Therapy staff are committed to work under any circumstances and continue their battle in fighting cancer.

The radiation therapy centers at AVH, like all other medical centers, was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning of outbreak of the pandemic, the manager of the hospital informed the department’s heads to implement a contingency plan by reducing the number of patients who can come to the hospital to receive radiation therapy, and keep treating only urgent cases and all patients who already started their treatment before the start of COVID-19. Other patients will receive radiation therapy later to minimize the risk of exposure to the novel corona virus, and therefore protecting all staff and patients.

The Infection Control department held urgent meetings with department’s heads to establish a small team that can help to face the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The staff of the Radiation Therapy department applied all necessary recommendations from the Infection Control department.

Medical physicists working in radiotherapy were divided in two groups, alternating every 14 days. During this first period, there was a reduction in the patient number treated and no changes in daily doses or changes in treatment plans were made. In June of 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.

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. 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.

Mr Ismail AbuAwwad
Chief Medical Physicist
Augusta Victoria hospital – Palestine


October 18th 2020
mefomp reporter

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