WINCHESTER — Shenandoah Oncology, a private practice in Winchester on the campus of Winchester Medical Center, will be closed for nearly two weeks.
In a Thursday evening post shared on Facebook, the office states its decision to shut down until April 20 resulted from concerns about the COVID-19 virus.
“We have had several patients test positive,” the post states. “We have also had several staff members test positive, and many more staff members are under quarantine.”
Staff members are planning to conduct telephone and other telemedicine visits with patients. A provider will be on call for the practice and the hospital at all times, the post said.
“We know how difficult and stressful this time is for patients and their families and are making this decision out of an abundance of caution,” a second post on the Facebook page states. “Our provider team will contact each patient affected by this interruption to discuss the most appropriate way to provide continued care during this period.”
Cancer patient Lanette Orduna said the news of the office’s temporary closure is scary.
“When I read that on Facebook last night, I admit I freaked out,” she said on Friday.
Orduna said an office assistant told her that her treatments might be delayed by two weeks.
Orduna, who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in February, said this is her second go-around with the illness. Since coming out of a 3½-year remission, she’s had two treatments and was planning for her third treatment on April 9.
“Now we’re talking I’m going to be five weeks in between, which is two weeks late,” she said. “So that’s scary, ’cause am I going to get scheduled for that first week?”
She said it’s the uncertainty and lack of information that is most concerning to her.
“I definitely understand them [closing], with what’s going on,” she said. “What I don’t understand is canceling treatment, because treatments are supposed to be timely.”
Her first treatment was a loading treatment — a bigger dose to get her system going. Her second treatment was a regular dose, and she was supposed to have another regular dose three weeks later. Now she wonders if she’ll need another loading treatment to make up for lost time.
“If it’s that urgent, why are we stopping?” she said. “That’s what scares me. And there’s no one to get a hold of.”
In the initial Facebook post, which Orduna shared on her page but which did not appear on the office’s page on Friday, Shenandoah Oncology stated it based its decision to close on its continued communication with the Virginia Department of Health.
“The number of cases in Virginia has risen dramatically in recent days,” the post states. “Closer to home, Winchester and surrounding communities have also seen a rise in the number of cases. …
“[W]e have decided that the safest thing for our patients, staff, and the Winchester community as a whole, would be to prohibit patients from entering our office,” the post said. “We are concerned that continuing our normal operations could significantly increase the number of cases in our practice and the surrounding community. At this time, we are not having any patients come to the offices at least until April 20.”
Citing its 40 years of building a “deep and strong bond” with patients and the community, the office states it “look[s] forward to the day when we can resume normal operations, hug our patients, share their smiles and tears, and provide the best care we possibly can.”
In a response from Shenandoah Oncology late on Friday, the office said it will be conducting video or telephone visits with existing patients during typical clinic hours as well as telehealth visits for new referrals to the practice.
“A member of our provider team will be reaching out to each patient with an existing appointment over this time frame to discuss the most appropriate way to provide continued care during this period,” the emailed response said.
“Radiation oncology treatments are conducted in a different portion of the building with limited traffic,” it said. “Additional safety measures have been implemented and currently scheduled treatments will continue.
“Infusion treatments are being rescheduled or referred to an alternative facility based on a case-by-case analysis.”
For more information, call Shenandoah Oncology at 540-662-1108.