Short Communication

COVID-19 and haematology services in a cancer centre from a middle-income country: adapting service delivery, balancing the known and unknown during the pandemic

24 Sep 2020
Vivek S Radhakrishnan, Reghu K Sukumar Nair, Gaurav Goel, Venkatraman Ramanan, Mammen Chandy, Reena Nair

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions in multiple spheres of healthcare delivery in the world. Developing nations have had to tackle this unanticipated crisis in the midst of various other healthcare delivery issues and resource constraints. As a tertiary level cancer care provider located in an eastern Indian city, a COVID-19 hotspot, we share our experience from the perspective of haematology and haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) services. The primary challenges related to infection control included infection screening and decreasing exposure among patients and healthcare workers. Logistic challenges include maintaining essential patient care services, personnel redeployment, blood bank inventory constraints and maintaining the supply chain for a continuum of care. Clinical management challenges were dealt with by rationalising treatment delivery by modification of treatment regimens, risk-based deferral of HSCT, management of COVID-19 in patients, and staggering the follow-up schedules in survivors and those on maintenance therapies, among other strategies. These challenges were compounded by the restrictions imposed by a countrywide lockdown in the initial period of the pandemic, which also affected the socio-economic aspects of treatment delivery. As a training institution, this period also impacted academics and research activities. This overview details our response to these challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has many unknowns.

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