As you and your family continue to watch the public health concern surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to assure you that Southern Cancer Center is closely monitoring these developments, as the health and safety of our patients remains our top priority. We strongly encourage all patients NOT experiencing flu-like symptoms to continue with their prescribed treatment plans and attend all previously scheduled appointments. Your care needs currently outweigh the low-level risk posed at this time.
*** SCC patients should immediately notify our office if you are experiencing symptoms of a cough, fever or difficulty breathing, flu-like symptoms or if you may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Due to the nature of our patient population, it is IMPERATIVE that patients call our office for further direction prior to coming into the office for medical care if they are experiencing symptoms or believe they may have been exposed.
As a reminder, we have physicians available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If our patients or their families require assistance outside of normal business hours, please call our office at 251.625.6896 and our on-call staff will assist you further.
The following restrictions are in place at all Southern Cancer Center clinics, effective immediately until further notice (updated 5/1):
- ONE visitor per patient allowed ONLY for new patients or those physically unable to care for themselves. No person(s) under the age of 15 will be allowed.
- NO other visitors allowed and will be asked to wait outside of the facility.
- All visitors will be screened prior to entering patient areas. Any visitor who is coughing or shows other signs of illness will be asked to place a mask on and wait outside.
- All person(s) will be REQUIRED to wear a mask or other face covering at all times while in our facilities. Patients are encouraged to bring their own face covering; however, a cloth mask will be available to those who need it upon clinic entry, as supplies last.
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Refrain from touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue and clean your hands. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve.
For your safety and convenience, Southern Cancer Center offers virtual appointments scheduled through a service called telemedicine. These appointments allow for a real-time conversation between you and your provider through a secure platform. Telemedicine does not eliminate the need for patients to travel for certain aspects of treatment and in-person doctor visits, but offers patients the option to visit with their physician when traveling to the office is not ideal.
How It Works: Your provider will connect to your smartphone or tablet using a HIPAA compliant app found in your app store. During your visit, you and your provider will be able to see and hear one another. If you’re having trouble downloading the app or connecting to it, please call our office at 251.625.6896 and trained members of our staff will be able to assist you.
Who Can You Speak With: Every physician and nurse practitioner at Southern Cancer Center is available for appointments through telemedicine.
Appropriate Telemedicine Visits: Each of our providers will independently determine when a telemedicine visit is appropriate for a patient, but some examples may include:
- Evaluate patients that have infectious risk without bringing them in to the office
- Select new patient visits
- Acute care visits
- Certain patient education and/or counseling visit
- Support our patients who are on active treatment
- Provide routine care and follow up of our patients who are not on active treatment
Insurance Coverage: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most major insurance carriers now provide various levels of coverage for telemedicine visits.
See this patient facing, step-by-step guide to download the VSee program used for a telemedicine visit: https://enews.mckessonspecialtyhealth.com/rs/856-MGL-296/images/PatientPCInstructions.mp4
How Our Patients Can Protect Themselves
Cancer patients often have compromised immune systems and therefore can be at additional risk for catching COVID-19. Patients and their caregivers can protect themselves by taking common-sense prevention steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly, frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
- Avoid close contact, for at least 14 days, with anyone who may have traveled to an area with COVID-19 outbreaks.
- Stay home if you are not well.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid large crowds while receiving active therapy and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or cough into your elbow, then throw the tissue into a trash can.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects with a bleach or alcohol based cleaning solution.
- If your caregiver is sick they should seek medical help and avoid contact with them until they are well or free from fever for at least 24-48 hours.
It may be necessary to wear a face mask.
- The CDC recommends that the general population wear non-medical, cloth face masks or coverings in public and whenever social distancing is difficult to maintain. All face coverings should cover both the nose and mouth.
- Face coverings are to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.
Steps Southern Cancer Center is taking due to COVID-19:
- The CDC-recommended protocols for healthcare providers regarding COVID-19 are aligned with existing protocols for flu season, which already are in place at Southern Cancer Center.
- During flu season we emphasize an array of preventative measures that protect our staff and our patients from exposure to illness. These include hand hygiene (washing hand with soap and/or alcohol-based sanitizers) and proper use of personal protective equipment like gloves, face masks and gowns.
- In addition, our teams have been educated to our established protocol for isolating patients who come into our locations exhibiting concerning symptoms. As the COVID-19 situation changes, we will keep our staff and our patients updated.
- We have restricted office access to outside vendors and non-essential reps, as well as made modifications to our patient visitor’s policy (see above).
- We have implemented travel restrictions for our employees, are checking all staff temperatures before allowing them to work, have taken extra employee “social distancing” precautions, and have mandated that any employee(s) with fever and respiratory symptoms stay home.
About the Disease
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The spread of COVID-19, caused by a novel coronavirus, is rapidly evolving and is being studied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and other health organizations.
- Travel-related Risk: The greatest risk of infection is for people living in or who have traveled within high-risk countries or communities where spread is occurring.
- Healthcare Workers: Healthcare workers and close contacts of people who are infected with the virus are at an increased risk.
- Community Spread: There are some instances in which a patient’s exposure is unknown and cannot be traced to relevant travel history or contact with another known patient.
- Suppressed Immune Systems: People with compromised immune systems, including many cancer patients, are more susceptible to viruses, including COVID-19. Some cancer therapies, such as targeted drugs, steroids, as well as some cancer types, like blood cancers, can result in a weakened immune system.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu and respiratory illnesses. Symptoms may appear from two to 14 days after exposure. The CDC recommends that patients showing signs and symptoms be isolated to prevent infecting others with the virus for a period of 14 days. If a person experiences any of the following symptoms, especially fever, cough or shortness of breath, he or she should consult a physician.
- Cough or Sore Throat
- Shortness of Breath
- Aches and Pains
- Nasal Congestion
- Runny Nose
There is currently no vaccine or antiviral treatment to protect against COVID-19. Patients should receive supportive care to relieve symptoms. Some people who contract the virus have no symptoms or experience mild symptoms. Prevention plays an integral role in avoiding infection and being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
We urge you to turn to trusted, reliable sources for information about COVID-19, to help you avoid misinformation. It is important to understand the facts to avoid unnecessary or misplaced fear. We recommend these websites:
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: Coronavirus
- World Health Organization: Coronavirus
- National Cancer Institute: What People with Cancer Should Know
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration: Message to Cancer Patients
- Alabama Department of Health
- Mobile County Commission
- Baldwin County Commission
- Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce
- Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce
- South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce
- City of Mobile
- City of Saraland
- City of Spanish Fort
- City of Daphne
- City of Fairhope
- City of Foley
- City of Gulf Shores
- City of Orange Beach