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Some cancer prevention in limbo amid elective surgery ban

Routine procedures such as colonoscopies and mammograms are on hold for some patients in Florida, as the state tries to preserve personal protective equipment.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order banning elective surgeries meant that outpatient hospital procedures that can often catch cancer in its early stages hit the chopping block.

“If this extends into the rest of the year, then I think at that point we in health care will need to revisit some of the decisions already made in deferring these types of tests to identify early stage cancer,” said Dr. Connie Mantz, the chief policy officer for 21st Century Oncology.

Dr. Mantz said that he feels that patients, especially those who are cancer survivors, have an incredible burden right now trying to weigh out the risk of the virus with the risk of deferring preventative visits and procedures.

21st Century Oncology is doing a lot of visits remotely using telehealth platforms.

But telehealth is not always an option for every patient with every type of medical practice.

Bill Grattenthaler, who is not a patient of Dr. Mantz, said he waited four months for an appointment with a neurologist to discuss nerve pain that presented itself after his cancer went into remission.

But since Grattenthaler is a new patient, the practice is not able to see him through telehealth.

“They can’t do this over the phone, because they don’t know all my problems that I’m having, so the doctor has to see me,” Grattenthaler said. “With this, I’m not able to see them.”

Dr. Mantz said right now there is a gap for patients like Grattenthaler, who do not have a life threatening emergency, where there is not a good solution in getting them access to care.

“What a misery for that patient to have to go through Grattenthaler said. “And I’m not sure there’s a real solution for what we have electronically to be able to offer patients like that. We just have to anticipate that the public health emergency will close soon.”

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
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