Family Members Can Still Be Part of Doctor Appointments During COVID-19

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Linda Buck – nurse practitioner at City of Hope

By Linda Buck, Nurse Practitioner at City of Hope Newport Beach

Cancer treatment appointments can be a whirlwind of information, and emotion. A trusted family member accompanying you to these visits can calm the storm—taking notes, clarifying instructions, and offering valuable comfort and support.

You probably couldn’t imagine going to the doctor alone—until COVID-19 came along.

At City of Hope Newport Beach, we have enhanced safety standards by reducing the number of people in the office and limiting appointments to patients only.

However, we understand the significant role family members play during cancer treatment, so we’ve made sure there are options that allow them to still participate, even if they aren’t physically in the room with you.

Those options include:

  • Video Technology: Your trusted point person can attend your appointments with a video call via FaceTime, Skype, or other similar face-to-face technologies. This is especially helpful because your family members can see scans, X-rays or other visual information.
  • Phone Call: Alternatively, your family member can listen in on a phone call during your doctor’s visit. With phone or video calls, your loved one can dial in from anywhere, which offers some flexibility.
  • Curbside Conversation: If you’d like your family member close at hand, your loved one can drive you to the appointment and wait outside the building or in the car. When the appointment is finished, your provider will come outside with you and talk to your family member in person. If that’s your preference, let the health care team know that when you are scheduling your visit so they factor it into your appointment time.

There are certain extenuating circumstances that may allow for a visitor to join your in-person appointment under this COVID-19 policy. For instance, a patient with significant disabilities relies on a support person during appointments, or a physician has to deliver difficult news. In those cases, the doctor will reach out for approval from the medical director in advance of the appointment.

When you have cancer, your loved ones are a port in the storm. At City of Hope, they can still stand by you during doctor visits and stay connected to your cancer care plan. For more information, please visit www.cityofhope.org/OC.

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