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Pediatric proton treatment in the age of COVID

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | March 14, 2022
Rad Oncology Pediatrics Proton Therapy
From the March 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Danielle Fohl says that all care teams must be consulted and work together to come up with an effective game plan for treating children. “The pediatric proton center is working with the pediatric oncology team that can also actively treat the cancer the patients have and the pediatric anesthesiologists to make sure those needs are being met. Child life specialists help children cope with treatment and families cope with treatment, and understand what’s going on.”

It is also important to understand that children require more time in their care. As a result, compared to adults, fewer children can be treated each day. Mangona says this is the reason why more multiroom facilities with the right personnel and resources are needed in pediatric proton therapy. “It’s not uncommon for pediatric patients with anesthesia to be in the room for 45 minutes to an hour. At our facility we have three treatment rooms, so we are not as constrained, although we still have limits on how many patients and how many hours we can treat in a day. You’re going to see variability from institution to institution in their capacity to treat pediatric patients, especially when you look at treating pediatric patients with anesthesia.”

Another factor to consider is the emotional and financial toll of traveling long distances and relocating, says Klein. “It certainly is an economic hardship as well as a psychological hardship when moving away from a family's home-based support systems. It really is an economic as well as a social issue for these families.”

The pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges, and facilities must have appropriate plans in place to address different scenarios, from testing for COVID status, to managing patients that are positive, to anesthesia needs, to taking into account patient and staff safety. In any case, all possible options must be evaluated to ensure patients receive the treatment they desperately need, says Mary Beth Morgan. “As long as patients are clinically stable to be treated, we will treat them.”

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