Coronavirus Update

INFORMATION FOR OUR PATIENTS ABOUT COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The safety and well-being of our patients, physicians, nurses and other team members is our top priority. At Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS), we are continuing our efforts to safeguard the health and safety of our patients, physicians and staff as this pandemic evolves.

COVID no visitors

Visitors

Effective Monday, April 12, 2021, one visitor may accompany patients who have scheduled appointments with their physician or advanced practice provider (NP or PA.)  No visitors are allowed to accompany patients coming in for laboratory or imaging, shots or infusions, with the exception of those visitors who provide essential caregiving or translation assistance. 

With the decline in new COVID-19 cases and the rising number of Florida residents who have received their COVID-19 vaccines, changes to the Visitor Policy will continue to be considered and announced in a phased approach, with priority consideration given to the needs of our patients and their caregivers. We will also continue to abide by recommendations for safety and physical distancing issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other regulatory agencies.

What you need to know when you visit our FCS clinics:

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms such as a fever above 100.4 degrees, cough or runny nose, or if you feel short of breath, please call your primary care physician and call our office before coming for your scheduled appointment.

Use of Masks:

Everyone entering our clinic locations is asked to wear a protective face mask or face covering (homemade masks are acceptable for patients and visitors). We will provide a mask to patients and approved visitors who do not have one. Our staff members are wearing masks as well when they enter and leave our clinics.

Screening:

Upon arrival, we will take your temperature. Screenings are conducted with all patients and visitors, and with each staff member at the start and end of their shift. Our clinic team is trained to respond swiftly and appropriately to anyone demonstrating symptoms of illness or potential exposure to the coronavirus.

Other ways we are working to ensure your continued care and safety:

  • Our clinics and offices are being cleaned and sanitized throughout the day to reduce the risk of infection. Unnecessary items, such as magazines and newspapers, have been removed.
  • We are continuing our efforts to maintain necessary inventory of supplies, masks and other protective equipment. 
  • Our Rx To Go Pharmacy continues to dispense medications and ensure timely delivery of oral oncolytic medications. We are continuing to provide research drugs to our patients participating in clinical trials.
  • Our central laboratory, pathology laboratory and clinical research operations remain open and available to support our clinics.
  • Many of our administrative employees who have been working remotely from their homes will begin returning to work in our corporate offices. Regardless of work location, all of our team members have access to everything they need to support our patients and clinics.

Telehealth Appointments Available

  • Telehealth services are  available to patients at all FCS sites. With a simple web link using either a computer or cell phone, patients can connect with their FCS physician or other care providers safely and securely, and without a trip to the office. also It also helps   reduce the potential spread or exposure to illness.
  • While telehealth is not suitable for every patient, your FCS physician or other care providers will determine whether you are a good fit, and the office will contact you to schedule your telehealth appointment and provide instructions. Telehealth visits are covered by most insurance plans; you may pay the same or possibly less than an in-office visit.
  • FCS was among the first cancer care providers in Florida to make this resource so widely available to patients.

A note about COVID-19 exposure:

Despite our diligent efforts to prevent the transmission of germs, there will be continued spread of COVID-19 in the weeks and months ahead. No one is immune. Our stringent screening protocols at all FCS locations have been effective.

Thank you for your cooperation, patience and support!

The health and well-being of our patients and staff remain our top priority. Our FCS executive and physician leadership teams are constantly monitoring and updating our activities in response to this unprecedented situation. We are confident in our ability to continue to serve our patients and communities with world-class care, close to home.

As always, we thank you for entrusting your care to FCS.

We encourage you to stay informed and recommend: www.cdc.gov or floridahealth.gov.

 

 

FACTS ABOUT THE COVID-19 VACCINE

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. This is an important milestone. The combination of vaccinations and ongoing compliance with Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations (e.g., use of masks, regular handwashing and physical distancing) offers the best protection from COVID-19.

The short Q&A below has been developed by our FCS clinical experts to address many common questions about the vaccines. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines have been carefully evaluated in clinical trials and were authorized for use because they have been shown to substantially minimize the risk of getting COVID-19.

Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may also prevent serious illness even if you do get COVID-19.

Which vaccine is best?

Both of the available vaccines are 90 – 95% effective and administered as a series of two doses: Pfizer doses are three weeks apart; Moderna doses are four weeks apart. They are not interchangeable, meaning after receiving your first dose you should receive the second dose of the same vaccine to complete the series.  The comparison is similar to a recipe where there are similar ingredients that yield the same result with no significant difference.

What are the side effects?

Potential side effects are minimal for most people and should go away in a few days. General side effects can include pain, tenderness and swelling in the arm of the injection or flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea, vomiting and fever.   

Talk with your doctor if you have had a severe allergic reaction after a previous vaccine or if you are allergic to any ingredients of this vaccine.  Severe reactions are isolated and further review is underway.

Is the new COVID-19 vaccine safe for cancer patients or others with compromised immune systems? 

While the immunization of cancer patients is still in review, the CDC is recommending that cancer patients be vaccinated. Based on experience with other similar types of vaccines, no major side effects or unique side effects have been reported in immunocompromised patients.  However, the vaccine may not be as effective for persons with cancer and other conditions.  The decision is best made in consultation with each patient’s individual health care provider and care team.

How do I know if it is safe for me?

It is true that, in the past, vaccines have taken years to develop. Scientists now know a lot about vaccine strategy, thanks to decades of development and experience. Additional resources were provided from many countries to assist with the COVID-19 vaccine. No stages of development were skipped, but they did occur simultaneously. An important fact is that these vaccines do not use the live virus and will not cause COVID-19.  

How is the vaccine being distributed?

Because the current supply in the United States is limited, initial supplies are being offered first to healthcare personnel, followed by essential non-healthcare workers including first responders, and then to adults with high-risk medical conditions and those over age 65.

Does FCS have vaccine available for patients?

Our Procurement team is working to assess what quantity of the vaccine may be available to us and when. We will communicate further details to our patients as that information becomes available.

Who will pay for my vaccine?

The vaccines are being given within the U.S. at no cost. However, vaccination providers are allowed to charge an administrative fee for giving the shots.

Do people who have tested positive for COVID-19 need to be vaccinated?

The vaccine is recommended for all persons regardless of their history of COVID-19 infection.

While we welcome the protection that COVID-19 vaccines will provide, it will be important for everyone to continue using all of the tools available to us to help stop the spread of the coronavirus  -- covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, avoiding crowds and staying at least six feet away from others.