COVID 19 vaccination and cancer

Important scientific information about the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Vaccination is efficient and safe.
  • Vaccination is safe for patients who have cancer, even when undergoing immunorepressive therapy. Exception: the live-attenuated vaccines may not be used for cancer patients.
  • People with active cancer are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. Vaccination is therefore certainly recommended.

Have yourself vaccinated as soon as the vaccines are available. Consult with your attending oncologist. The timing will be determined for each patient individually and depends on the therapy regimen.

Your ICG team will have the vaccine as soon as they are available!

COVID-19: FAQ

Extra tip: try to avoid touching your face as much as possible!

May someone accompany me to keep me company during my treatment at the day hospital?

From Monday 19 October, visitors are no longer allowed in the Day Hospital. Accompanying persons are only allowed entry if strictly necessary. The patient must abide by the applicable hygiene measures and must wear a mask during the entire time they are at the hospital.

May I bring someone with me to the consultation with the oncologist-haematologist?

One person is allowed to accompany the patient during the consultation.

Of course, if the person accompanying the patient has symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle pain or fever, then he or she cannot come with you to our hospital. We ask the patient, as well as the person accompanying the patient, to always wear a mask and to abide by the hygiene measures.

May visitors come while I am hospitalised at the care ward?

Patients on wards are currently not allowed to receive visitors. For more information, please go to the general hospital website.

Do I need to wear a mask during my treatment in the day hospital?

Everybody entering the hospital must wear a mask More information can be found at ‘Protect Yourself and Each Other: Appointments’

Will my blood be drawn?

  • Blood drawing related to IV chemotherapy on day -1:we ask patients to firstcome to the consultation with the physician at the day hospital and only afterwards go to the laboratory for a blood draw.
  • Blood draws for patients with perioral therapy: patients who previously came in for a blood draw in the laboratory at our main campus one or two days beforehand will now have their laboratory draw done at home. The oncology coaches will keep their patients informed by telephone. We ask that patients be available at home from 7.30am to 4:30pm.

Does anything change if my chemotherapy is administered as part of a scheduled admission to the care ward?

We ask that patients with a scheduled admission for chemotherapy at the Hospitalisation Department contact the Oncology and Therapy Day Hospital before 9:30am the day before their admission to receive any information from the physician and to have a COVID swab done.

Can I still see my oncology psychologist?

The psychological services continue to be available for patients at the day hospital or for admitted patients.

Which oncology patients run an increased risk?

Cancer patients who are being treated with chemotherapy (up to and including six weeks after the most recent treatment) have lowered defences, which means they run an increased risk of a serious illness if they were to be infected with the COVID-19 virus. If you have fever, a sore throat, cough, muscle pain or shortness of breath, please contact the Oncology Team or your GP. You are advised to STRICTLY follow the government's recommendations.

Cancer patients who are being treated with immunotherapy (up to and including six weeks after the most recent treatment) run an increased risk of lung problems, and, potentially, of a serious illness if they were to be infected with the COVID-19 virus. If you have fever, a sore throat, cough, muscle pain or shortness of breath, please contact the Oncology Team or your GP. You are advised to STRICTLY follow the government's recommendations.

Cancer patients who are being treated with targeted anti-cancer medication (up to and including six weeks after the most recent treatment) have lowered defences, which means they run an increased risk of a serious illness if they were to be infected with the COVID-19 virus. If you have fever, a sore throat, cough, muscle pain or shortness of breath, please contact the oncology team or your GP. You are advised to STRICTLY follow the government's recommendations.

What should I do if I have a cough, sore throat, muscle pain or fever?

Do you have fever, a sore throat, muscle pain or a cough? In that case, do not come to the hospital, even if you have a scheduled treatment. First contact the ICG secretariat on +32 9 246 95 22. In consultation with the care team, a decision will be made about whether your treatment can be still be administered.

Do you still have questions? First contact the ICG secretariat on +32 9 246 95 22.

Take a look at the hospital's general website for additional information

COVID-19: Ten tips on how to cope with fear

Stress and feelings of fear are not uncommon for people in an oncology trajectory. Add to that a situation that is completely out of the ordinary, such as the coronavirus, and those feelings can grow.

Have you been affected by the following stress symptoms in the last couple of days?

Physical

  • headache, back pain, muscle pain
  • decreased appetite
  • heart palpitations
  • clammy, sweaty hands
  • tiredness, sleep problems
Emotions
  • irritability
  • a restless, nervous feeling
  • gloomy moods, fear
  • feeling lifeless, lethargy
  • powerlessness
Thoughts
  • forgetfulness
  • memory problems
  • concentration problems
  • negative thoughts
Behaviour
  • reduced performance, making mistakes
  • crying more easily, bursting out in tears more quickly
  • eating too much or too little
  • smoking, drinking or using drugs more

Did you answer ‘Yes’ to any of these questions? If so, please read on to learn what you could do.

1. Incorporate structure and predictability, no matter how little

Unpredictability generates fear and stress. For this reason, try to establish a routine. You can do that by planning when you are going to relax, when you are going to eat, when you are going to shower...These things seem minor, but they offer a useful distraction and give you a feeling of control.

2. Breathe in, breathe out

You can relax by slowly practicing stomach breathing in and out. It is very simple:

  • You breathe in calmly and count to four.
  • Hold your breath.
  • You breathe out calmly and count to four again.

Do this until your breathing becomes deeper and you are more relaxed. It is important that you follow your own tempo and do what feels good. Take care that your breathing out is the same duration or a bit slower than the breathing in.

3. It is what it is (and that is also an opportunity)

The situation is as it is, and that is the case for everyone. Take advantage of the quiet and space to honour what is truly important for you in life. How does it feel to be home? How does it feel to be able to pay more attention to your partner or your children? You can use the time that you get now to do things that you otherwise might not have done.

4. Act on your ideas

Make two lists for yourself: one of everything that you can or want to do now that you are at home, and one of all the things you are worried about. No matter how minor a thing it might appear, put it on the list. Then discuss the list with your partner or your children. That makes it easier to start acting on certain things. Have no one to talk to? Not even by telephone? Then work with a point system in order to start working on your ideas: 1) Really important for me, 2) I would really like to have this under control, 3) Actually a side issue. Start with the more important points and work down the lists at your own speed.

5. Follow (dosed) reliable news

It is important to follow the news in order to stay well informed. You can best do that by way of reliable channels, such as hospital websites, news that is on the television or radio, or a newspaper. Keep in mind that news on the internet or social media is not always reliable (so-called 'fake news').

6. Keep moving

Walking, cycling, jogging. Sports are still possible! It is not only good for your body, it is good for lowering your stress hormones. It is preferable to do sports with no more than two people. Always maintain the necessary physical distance.

7. Keep in contact with each other

Talking with family and friends is a very good way to cope with stress. There are many ways to do that. You can send a text or chat, but it is better to pick up the telephone and call someone. Would you like to see other people too? A video call with your smartphone or tablet is always an option.

8. Good sleep hygiene

  • Always go to bed around the same time and always get up around the same time.
  • Only go to sleep if you are tired.
  • Do not use any screens for an hour before you go to bed.
  • Do not drink any coffee and stop smoking at least four hours before you go to bed.
  • Drink enough water throughout the day.
  • Do not take too many naps during the day, and do not take any naps that are very long (30 minutes maximum).
  • Only use your bed for sleeping and for having sex with your partner.

9. Humour

Keep laughing. This helps you relax and gives a boost to your mental health. It works even better if you do it with someone else. Do you see or are you thinking about something funny? Then share it with your family and friends.

10. Ask for help if you need it or put your question into words.

Do you have the feeling that you need help? Know that you are not alone. You can always count on those close to you, but even more so on care professionals.

Some useful contact information:

What is cancer?

The smallest building block in the human body is the cell. Each cell has a specific job and a determined lifespan. When a body's cell is damaged or is too old and is no longer functioning normally, it dies and is replaced by a new cell. This is how an organ's normal activity is preserved.

Sometimes, a cell behaves abnormally, and it begins to multiply uncontrollably, forming a mass or tumour. A tumour can be benign, but if it develops the trait of absorbing adjacent healthy cells, then we call it a malignant tumour, or cancer. Cancer cells can spread in the human body (by lymph vessels or blood vessels, for example) and form new tumours in other organs (metastases). Cancer is the result of a deep and complex functional disorder of certain cells.

Depending on the type of cancer, you will, as a patient, come in to contact with various specialists. An overview of all the physicians who are associated with our cancer centre can be found at contact page.

Having a consultation

You come for consultation either as a new patient or to have a follow-up appointment to assess your condition. The consultations are held at two possible locations:

If you were referred by your GP, you have likely been given a supporting letter. This letter, along with any blood test results, may be given to the secretariat. The secretary will scan the document so that the physician has this information in his or her digital chart at the time of the consultation. It is always useful to write down the medications you take at home and to bring in that list when you come to have the consultation.

To the Oncology Day Hospital

Most oncology treatment is administered on an outpatient basis (e.g. without being admitted). The Maria Middelares General Hospital has an Oncology and Therapy Day Hospital for this reason.

Important notice:

As a result of the new guidelines regarding how to deal with the coronavirus, no visitorsare allowed in the Oncology and Therapy Day Hospital for the time being.

Thank you for your understanding.

What can I bring with me?

Documents

  • Identification Card
  • Blood type card
  • Name and telephone number for one contact person

Personal

  • If applicable, the medication that you take during the day
  • Comfortable clothing (you do not need to bring toiletries, pyjamas and/or a robe)
  • Something to read: a book, a magazine
  • Valuables or large amounts of money are better left at home (our hospital is not responsible for loss or theft)

Process

Registration

Always register at the reception desk for the Oncology and Therapy Day Hospital. You can best reach the reception desk by entering gate A on the ground floor.

You do not need to come having fasted, unless otherwise indicated. You can simply eat breakfast in the morning. The treatment will be started after drawing a blood sample. Depending on the blood test result and the physician authorisation, the treatment will start the next day. While the cytostatica is being administered, we will not leave the department.

Your stay

  • All the rooms are equipped with a radio and television. You may also use your mobile in the day hospital.
  • Your partner or a family member is welcome to come to the day hospital. We keep the number of people limited to keep the space calm and quiet for everyone.
  • Patients from the Oncology and Therapy Day Hospital receive a (free) meal. The meal is offered only upon your request.
  • During your admission, you may expect a visit from the attending physician in order to discuss any problems you may be having and/or to receive prescriptions for any required medication. How long exactly you need to stay at the day hospital depends on the administration schedule for the scheduled chemotherapy and can vary from a few hours to a full day.

Discharge

As soon as all the scheduled care has been administered, you may leave the hospital. You will stop by the discharge desk of the Oncology and Therapy Day Hospital to book an appointment for the next treatment or check-up. After a visit to the day hospital, you may drive a vehicle, unless otherwise agreed upon.

Financial information

The invoice will be sent at the end of the month following your treatment:

  • Chemotherapy is, in principle, free.
  • A copayment is charged for other additional medications, care materials and any additional tests required (X-rays, large blood draws, etc.)
  • The health insurance fund pays a kilometre reimbursement for the distances that you, as a patient, must travel between house and hospital. All oncology patients have the right to this kilometre reimbursement. On the treatment end, you will receive a form with all the dates, signed and stamped by the attending physician. You may request this form from the ICG secretariat.
  • All of our patients receive a parking voucher at a reduced rate (€1.00). Whoever does not have their own transportation or is able to have a friend or family provide transportation may inquire with our Social Services about volunteer transportation services. Please ask a nurse about this service.

Patients who come multiple times to the hospital enjoy a special parking rate of €1.00 per time. Validate your parking voucher at the secretariat before paying at the pay machine in the atrium.

To the Oncology Care Ward

Important notice:

No visits are currently allowed for ward D203.

Thank you for your understanding.

What can I bring with me?

Please bring the following things with you for your hospital admission:

  • Administrative papers (identification card, hospitalisation insurance papers, etc.)
  • Medical paperwork (referral letter/documentation - labs, X-ray images - from your GP, blood type card, information about allergic reactions, current medication list)
  • Personal items (e.g. toiletries, pyjamas, closed-toe shoes, book to read)
  • Valuables or large amounts of money are better left at home (our hospital is not responsible for loss or theft)

Where to register

  • Admissions at the A&E Department
  • For a scheduled admission, you may go to the registration desk or one of the six kiosks. Your electronic identification card (e-ID) will be read there. You will receive a number that will be projected on to the television screen in the registration waiting room. Patients who do not have an e-ID will also receive a number. When your number appears on the screen, go to the indicated registration desk. Your reservation will be confirmed and you will be registered.
  • You may choose from two room types:
    - two-person room
    - one-person room

Your room selection in no way influences the quality of individual care.

The room rate (the so-called ‘nursing day rate’) is paid by the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance (RIZIV/INAMI). The copayments (e.g. the portion for which the patient is personally responsible) and the supplemental hotel costs are the patient's financial responsibility. If you choose a single room, you will be charged a surcharge. This choice of room may be associated with higher physicians' fees. A list with the maximum fee supplements per physician is available in the Admissions Department.

Which department do you come to?

The Oncology Care Ward (D203) is part of the core team of the Integrated Cancer Centre in Ghent (IKG) of the Maria Middelares General Hospital. A team of experienced nurses are ready to provide you with professional and high-quality care that is customised to each individual patient. All nurses complete additional continuing education in oncology and have a special professional title as 'nurse specialist in oncology'.

A multidisciplinary team closely follows nodes of patient and his or her family (emotional crisis) and institutes the appropriate care if needed. Physicians, nurses, oncology coaches, dietitians, Pastoral Services, the Palliative Care Support Team and Social Services work together seamlessly, day in and day out. The involvement of all multidisciplinary team members leads to the best individualised care for each patient.

The department pays particular attention to the information offered about all facets of treatment (the process for technical testing, blood testing, specific treatment schedules, medication side effects, port systems/vascular access catheters, etc.) Specific leaflets on these topics are provided.

Who is my department contact person?

For questions, you may always contact the supervising nurse or the head nurse of the department. If necessary, we will refer you to the specific hospital staff member.

The telephone number for the nurse’s station is +32 9 246 23 00.

The team is supervised by the head nurse Melissa Sucaet.

Physician rounds

The physicians work together with the multidisciplinary team member to provide your care during the hospital admission. Each day, someone from the medical team completes rounds on all the rooms. During rounds, we try to provide as much information as possible about your medical condition and its management. Never hesitate to ask for additional information during these round visits.

Communication

  • Would you like more information about a family member who has been admitted? You may always contact the department supervisor. If you are requesting medical information, you will be transferred to the secretariat or the attending physician so that you can book an appointment. The staff member of the medical secretariat will connect you or book an appointment with the supervising physician. It is very important for us that the patient designate a single contact person.
  • Your GP will also be kept up-to-date on your medical condition and management. When you are discharged from the hospital, you will receive a discharge letter to be given to your GP. Your GP will be sent a more detailed, definitive letter later on.

Visiting hours

Visiting hours are from 2pm to 8pm.

Shorter is sweeter: a shorter visit can be more fun.

Specific visiting times, as they concern isolation measures, are at the discretion of the department supervisor.

Invoice

If you have specific questions about your invoice and your admission, please contact our Billing or Invoicing Department. You may read more here about your invoice.

More information

Extensive information about our hospital and your admission can be found in the welcome leaflet below.

Multidisciplinair Oncologisch Consult

A Multidisciplinary Oncology Consultation (MOC) is a meeting between different physicians and care providers to design optimum care plans for each cancer patient. Specialists from the disciplines involved examine all tests and examination results, and then they discuss the future treatment plan. The Integrated Cancer Centre of Ghent (ICG) of Maria Middelares General Hospital collaborates with specialists in the E17 Hospital Network for the MOC. In addition to oncologists and physicians from the disciplines involved, GPs, oncology coaches, oncology psychologists and oncology dietitians are welcome to join the meetings. Interested GPs can join the meetings in person or take part by video conference.