WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — As essential businesses adjust their policies to combat COVID-19, doctors are still seeing patients that suffer from other illnesses like cancer.
But Texas Oncology has found an innovative way to connect with their patients. Texas Oncology says that virtual appointments have been working very well for them.
They launched this format in the past, but federal and state policy chnages because of COVID-19, have allowed them to fully treat patients from home.
“Policy change tends to be incremental,” Texas Oncology executive director and medical oncologist Dr. Debra Patt said. “The administration wants to make sure that they’re doing.. being as safe as possible with medicare beneficiaries as they make decisions. I’ll say it’s a huge shoutout to the administration and to CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and Gov. Abbott because they have been incredibly progressive about telemedicine policy.”
Telemedicine has been the primary way of appointments for Texas Oncology and doctors and patients appreciate the caution being taken as fears grow about the coronavirus.
“It is one way that we can do things like shelter-in-place and still obtain the medical care that we need,” Patt said. “So that’s been really helpful. I think that during this challenging time, patients need to be interacting with their doctors.”
Even though oncologists aren’t therapists, they can still help their patients lower their anxiety.
“Most of us aren’t just okay,” Patt said. “Most of us have heightened anxiety. Cancer survivors have a lot of anxiety; they may be at greater risk. They may have questions for their doctor. They may need to manage side effects of medication so that interaction is really critical and being able to maintain it has so been so helpful.”
Cancer survivor Staci Bella Rose thinks these virtual appointments should help patients tremendously.
“I was just at the oncology office about two weeks ago. And we were all scared,” Rose said. “We were all scared doing our little six feet apart. As a survivor, you don’t need to be out right now. You need to be home as much as possible so I think that’s great news.”
Rose has some tips on how to pass the time for survivors and patients who are currently battling cancer.
“Reading good books are an awesome way to battle through cancer,” Rose said. “Long hot showers is what I always liked because my body hurt so bad.”
Rose also said that connecting with family is another good way to pass the time while sheltering in place, and Patt advises patients to stay in touch with their doctor during this time.