Canadian Cancer Centre Response to COVID-19 Pandemic: A National and Provincial Response

Curr Oncol. 2020 Dec 31;28(1):233-251. doi: 10.3390/curroncol28010026.


BACKGROUND: COVID-19 has spread rapidly, requiring health delivery systems to undertake dramatic transformations. To evaluate these system changes, we undertook one of the first Canadian health delivery system reviews and the first Canadian cancer centre evaluation of pandemic system modifications.

METHODS: Questionnaires were distributed to the Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies (CAPCA) members in order to assess changes to cancer centre services and patient management. Documentation relating to COVID-19 from the CAPCA electronic space was accessed, and all publicly available cancer centre documentation related to COVID-19 was reviewed.

RESULTS: Seven provinces completed the questionnaire and had documentation available from the CAPCA electronic space. All screening programs across Canada were suspended. In most provinces surveyed, ≥50% of outpatient appointments were occurring virtually, with <25% using video platforms. Generally, the impact on diagnostic imaging and new patient referrals correlated with the impact of COVID-19. Most provinces had a reduction in operating room availability, with chemotherapy and radiation treatments continuing. Public health modification, including personal protective equipment and screening staff, varied across the country.

CONCLUSION: Canadian cancer centres underwent a rapid and aggressive transformation of services in response to COVID-19, with many similarities and differences across provinces. In part, this response was facilitated by communication under a national association, which in Canada remains unique to cancer. This response may serve to inform changes in other jurisdictions or disease states now and in future waves of the pandemic, as well as a record of changes for future health services and patient outcome research.

PMID:33704191 | DOI:10.3390/curroncol28010026