Lafayette Family Cancer Institute takes steps to protect patients and staff amid coronavirus outbreak

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BREWER, Maine (WABI) - Many patients are having to postpone surgeries and procedures due to safety regulations at hospitals during the pandemic.

Cancer patients, however, can't stop their treatments.

Northern Light Cancer Care has put several protocols in place at the Lafayette Family Cancer Center in Brewer to protect some of their most vulnerable patients.

Some types of cancer and treatments such as chemotherapy can weaken the immune system.

This puts patients at an increased risk of contracting the virus and an even greater chance they wouldn't be as equipped to fight it off.

Doctors and health officials agree the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

So, protocols have been put in place at the Lafayette Family Cancer Center to protect patients.

Doctor Sigrid Berg says physicians have been communicating with their patients via telemedicine whenever possible.

In some cases, when treatments can be postponed for a bit, they do this to limit a patient's exposure.

If treatments are necessary, steps are taken to be sure patients are not infected before entering the center.

"The bottom line is that we are continuing to treat all the patients who need the treatments to keep their cancer from coming back or to keep them from having progressive symptoms or progressive cancer but we need to weight that with what the risk of them coming into the clinic is, what the risk of the medication that we're giving them to try to treat their cancer if it might make them more prone to COVID 19. So, we are adjusting our plans on an individual basis on how to treat our patients."

Doctor Berg says it's natural for patients or anyone to feel scared or anxious during this time.

She says patients should talk with their physicians about their fears and know that they are doing their best to provide them the safest and best care possible.