Timely communication has never been more important than during the COVID-19 crisis currently impacting our health care systems and our daily lives. PAMN member institutions have been quick to respond to support our overwhelmed healthcare system and research and patient care communities as they navigate an unprecedented number of challenges.
The role of communications, marketing and public affairs professionals has been to coordinate and disseminate vital information on resources, volunteer and donation opportunities, hospital policies, research updates, patient education and public guidance, among many other important topics.
Here is a sampling of the ways some member centers around the country are fulfilling the need for information about COVID-19 and coronavirus:
Cancer Center and Research Institute, University of Mississippi Medical Center
The need for blood never ends for patients with cancer and blood disorders. So when COVID-19 struck, and donation drives were cancelled, UMMC employees literally bled for their patients and urged others to do the same in a story outlining how donations are used at the state’s largest hospital: https://www.umc.edu/news/Miscellaneous/2020/April/April%20CONSULT/CON042020E.html
The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia
Due to their expertise in vaccines and immunotherapies, the Wistar team and collaborators in academia and biotech were tapped early on to create a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and other innovative diagnostic and therapeutic solutions. Their research led to a coronavirus vaccine entering human trials.
Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah
Sharing information on COVID with cancer patients and their caregivers became a crucial element for many cancer centers. Here’s one way Huntsman Cancer Institute handled it: https://healthcare.utah.edu/huntsmancancerinstitute/news/2020/03/covid-19-and-cancer-patients.php
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
The COVID-19 outbreak and spread of coronavirus can be especially challenging for pediatric cancer patients, survivors, and their families. St. Jude put together information and resources to help keep families safe, informed, and supported. They even offer a coloring book and activity book to help kids learn about the virus.
Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Social media has been an important communications tool to reach patients during social distancing. Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center organized several Facebook Live events hosted by experts addressing cancer and COVID-19, including one that addresses how to maintain good nutrition amid COVID-19.
MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas
With strict visitation policies in effect, many cancer patients are having to go through chemotherapy and other treatments alone. Fortunately, technology like FaceTime keeps patients connected to caregivers for virtual support. MD Anderson shares a cancer patient’s story describing the adjustment to her treatment.
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
To limit COVID-19 exposure for immune-comprised cancer patients and to minimize interruptions to their treatments, many facilities have switched to a telemedicine model for non-urgent follow-up or surveillance appointments. In order to guide patients through the transition, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey posted information about telemedicine on their website.
Moffitt Cancer Center
Support groups offer a safe and confidential environment to talk about issues related to cancer with a social work facilitator and others in the same situation. Because of social distancing rules, these groups can no longer meet in person. At Moffitt Cancer Center, some support groups are offered via teleconference at their regularly scheduled times.
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California San Francisco
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Art for Recovery Program at UCSF is posting daily prompts on their Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channels to help patients and providers use writing, art, and music to express their feelings.
Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson Health
Due to hospital regulations limiting exposure to the coronavirus, many centers have turned to digital tools so that cancer patients and caregivers can still access free support groups, classes, and counseling. For example, the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Cancer Support and Welcome Center offers virtual Zoom seminars on timely topics, such as coping with cancer and COVID-19.