According to a new study published in Bio Integration, health care facilities have been forced to adapt how they treat chronic non-COVID-19 illnesses, including breast cancer, since the start of the pandemic. Many health care institutions have had to redirect resources to pandemic management, creating a limitation on the essential medical supplies available for non-COVID patient critical care.
Singapore set an example for adapting treatment for breast cancer patients, after “circuit breaker” measures were set in April, forcing all non-essential workers to work remotely. Non-essential hospital visits were postponed according to the Ministry of Health’s new limitations, however patients who were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, appointments scheduled for patients treated within two years, routine follow-ups, and new symptom appointments could remain as scheduled. New screening was deemed non-essential, but cases who were “high-risk” could still be screened, and hospitals only saw a 10% decrease in this type of attendance.
Adapting to restricted resources and balancing the risks of exposure, while maintaining optimal care for breast cancer patients has been paramount in health care facilities. As the pandemic has progressed, though, the number of patients missing appointments has increased despite efforts by the hospitals. Not only could this have medical repercussions, but missing appointments could have a psychological impact as well if they are unable to voice concerns about their condition.
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