Information about COVID-19

Increased measures

To keep the risk of infection as low as possible while allowing all appointments at the Netherlands Cancer Institute to continue as usual, we have tightened our COVID-19 policy and measures. We have adapted our visitation policy and strongly urge you all to wear a face mask when visiting the hospital.

We do not recommend canceling your appointment. During the first wave, fewer people came to our hospital, risking late diagnoses. Whenever possible, we will schedule phone consultations. If your appointment can be handled by phone, we will let you know. If you do need to come to the hospital, please make sure you read the information on this page carefully.

At the Netherlands Cancer Institute, we primarily care for and treat patients with cancer. It is vital that we keep COVID-19, the coronavirus, out of our hospital so we can continue to deliver essential care to our cancer patients.

Read more about our views, measures, additional patient and visitor information, and the latest news about COVID-19 on this page.

 

Guiding principles

Precautions will continue to be in effect

Patients with cancer are vulnerable. But now we know more about COVID-19, the coronavirus, we can safely assume that people with cancer do not face an increased risk of infection, nor that they will face worse symptoms. We still want to limit the risk of infection at our hospital. Our precautions and measures, which you can find below, will remain in effect. We emphasize that it is safe to visit our hospital. If you are experiencing symptoms, please do not wait and visit your general practitioner if you are concerned. If you are already a patient at our hospital, feel free to contact your practicing physician at the Netherlands Cancer Institute at 020-5129111.

Treatment plan in collaboration with practicing physician

Our goal is to get all our patient through these turbulent times as well and as safely as possible. We assess each patient's individual personal situation to consider our course of action. All appointments at the Netherlands Cancer Institute can proceed as normal. The services at our hospital are vital and essential: surgery, treatment, radiation, and diagnostic tests. If possible, we will schedule a phone consultation with you so you won't have to travel to our hospital. If this is an option for you, we will notify you. We may make different choices in your treatment. Please be assured that we will only deviate from the norm or plan if we truly believe that your treatment will not be harmed. Your practicing physician will discuss your options with you. We do not recommend canceling your appointment. During the first wave, fewer people came to our hospital, risking late diagnoses.

if you are concerned or are experiencing problems, please contact us at 020-5129111.

Long distance consultations

Our physicians or nurses will try and continue to schedule as many video consultations as possible. We will contact you if your appointment at the hospital will be held through a video call. If you do not hear from us, you can assume that your appointment will not be changed. Please remember to notify us at +31 (0)20 – 512 9111 if you are experiencing respiratory symptoms (coughing or shortness of breath). We will assess your symptoms to see if we can safely proceed with your appointment. Patients with appointments at our radiotherapy, radiology, or outpatient clinics, or patients who are coming to the clinic for the first time, will be contacted by phone one day before their appointment to assess any potential respiratory symptoms (coughing, shortness of breath, sneezing) or fever (temperature over 38C or 100.4F).

Research trials reopened

Our research trials, including phase I trials, have been reopened as of May 7. If you think you may qualify for one of our trials, please contact your practicing physician.

videostill Gabe Sonke Corona

Safe treatment measures

Gabe Sonke and Frederique van Duijnhoven show us the precautions and measures at the NKI that help us deliver safe cancer treatment minimal risks.

Precautions

Patient and visitor screening at main entrance

We are committed to keeping COVID-19 out of our hospital. If our institute can remain COVID-19-free, we can continue to deliver essential cancer treatment. We have set up a corona desk at the main entrance where we ask all patients if they have any potential respiratory symptoms or a fever. We measure the temperature of all our patients as well using an infrared thermometer.

Visitors experiencing respiratory symptoms or a fever will be asked to leave the hospital. We understand that these measures are frustrating, but this measure is essential to guarantee a low risk of contracting COVID-19 at the hospital. We hope that we can count on your understanding and cooperation.

Patients with a slightly elevated temperature and mild symptoms who need treatment at the hospital will have to take extra precautions. We have set up a special hospital wing for patients with suspected COVID-19. They will be taken to this wing using a special route (yellow). All patients will receive information about our screening procedure one day before their visit.

In the hospital wing, we will ask you about your symptoms. We will discuss the best way to proceed together with your practicing physician. He or she will determine whether your consultation, treatment, or diagnostic procedure will continue. If not, we ask you to leave the hospital and come back at a later time. We will schedule a new appointment with you.

if we decide that we can proceed with your appointment, you will be escorted to the department or clinic where you had your appointment. We do not test for COVID-19 unless your practicing physician feels that it is necessary.

If you are experiencing symptoms without a fever, we will contact your practicing physician. The goal of these measures is to prevent patients with COVID-19 from walking around in our hospital and limit the number of tests to only those that are absolutely necessary.

We may ask you to tell us about your symptoms multiple times, which may be an inconvenience. Please remember that these measures help is keep our hospital free of COVID-19.

Restrictions on visitors and patient accompanist

In order to lower the risk of coronavirus infections at our hospital, we will attempt to keep the amount of people at the hospital at a minimum. This involves restrictions on people visiting patients at one of our wards, and people who are accompanying patients to their appointments. We understand that these measures may be frustrating but the usual number of people coming to our hospital is too high for the available waiting rooms. With these numbers we cannot guarantee a safe social distance of 1.5 meters for all people. Deviating from this policy is possible in the case of vulnerable patients, or patients who are dependent on their accompanist, but always remember to discuss this first. Patient accompanists can wait outside, or at the end of the central hall.

Visitation policy:

  • Patients may receive 1 visitor a day (24 hours), as well as one child under 13 that is part of their family.
  • Visitation hours will start later and will now be between 16.30 – 19.30 in order to prevent crowds in the central hall.
  • We ask our visitors not to come to our hospital when experiencing respiratory symptoms (coughing, cold symptoms), a sore throat, or a fever.
  • Always keep a social distance of 1.5 meters and wear a face mask at all times.
  • All visitors will need to be registered one day in advance. Patients can register their visitors for that day on the NKI iPads. People at the reception desk will verify whether you have been registered as a visitor.
  • One of our corona hosts will be present near the entrance of the wards and the department restaurant.

Our policy for patient accompanists is as follows:

  • We ask all patient accompanists not to come to our hospital when experiencing respiratory symptoms (coughing, cold symptoms), a sore throat, or a fever.
  • Always keep a social distance of 1.5 meters and wear a face mask at all times.
  • Clinics and Survivorship Center: Patients coming to the hospital for an appointment can be accompanied by 1 person.
  • Outpatient Clinic and CRU (Clinical Research Unit): Patients can only be accompanied by 1 person during the first session, unless the patient is vulnerable.
  • Diagnostics and Treatment Center (OBC): Patients who are vulnerable who are coming in for urology appointments can be accompanied by one person, but only on Thursday mornings.
  • Emergency department: 1 patient accompanist per patient.
  • Radiation oncology: 1 patient accompanist, only during a consultation at the clinic. Only vulnerable patients can be accompanied during radiation therapy.
  • Radiology and Blood draw lab: No patient accompanists, unless the patient is vulnerable.

Deviating from this policy is possible in the case of vulnerable patients, or patients who are dependent on their accompanist, but always remember to discuss this first. Patient accompanists can wait outside, or at the end of the central hall.

Personal hygiene policy RIVM

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we adhere tot he RIBM personal hygiene policy:

  • Regularly wash your hands
  • Cover a sneeze or cough with an elbow
  • Use paper tissues
  • Do not shake hands
  • Stay home when experiencing cold symptoms

We recommend desinfecting your hands, or washing with water and soap when visiting the hospital.

Phone consultation / video consultation for patients when possible

To lower the risk of COVID-19 infection at our hospital, we try to keep the numbers of patients at our hospital as low as possible. Whenever possible, we will offer patients phone consultations instead of in-person consultations. We can opt for long-distance consultations if the patient does not need to be physically present, and if this is logistically possible. These consultations can be used to discuss side effects of the treatment, or to discuss the results of diagnostic testing or the next step in treatment, or to answer patient questions.

All patients for whom phone consultations are an option will be contacted on the day before their consultation to change their appointment to one over the phone. To avoid putting too much pressure on our phone operators, we ask that patients do not contact us to ask about these phone consultations themselves. If a phone consultation is an option for you, we will contact you. You can complete the consultation when you receive the call, or on the original date of your appointment. The exact time will depend on the assessment of the physician, clinical nurse specialist, and the patient.

If you did not receive a phone call, you can assume that you will need to be physically present during your consultation and that it cannot be handled over the phone. Please visit the hospital at the time of your appointment.

Contact before your appointment or admission

If you have an appointment at our hospital and are experiencing respiratory symptoms (coughing, shortness of breath) or a sudden loss of taste or smell, please notify us immediately at 020 – 512 9111. Our staff will assess your situation and will decide whether you can come in for your appointment. Patients coming in for an appointment at our Radiation Therapy, Radiology, Outpatient, or OBC Department and patients who are coming in for their first appointment at the clinic will be contacted one day before their appointment for a screening of potential COVID-19 symptoms.

If possible, we will limit the number of physical appointments at the hospital. We will contact you one day before your appointment if we think your appointment may not be essential. If you do not hear from us, you can assume that you can come in for an appointment as expected. Please do not contact us to ask about your appointment.

Tighter measures after return from a color-coded orange or red region or contact screening

Patients

  • Return from a color-coded red or orange region

Have you been to a color-coded orange or red region in the past 10 days? Please contact your practicing physician at 020 5129111 before coming in for your appointment. If possible, we will reschedule your appointment to a date after your self-isolation period of 10 days. We follow the guidelines as outlined by the RIVM and urge you to self-isolate for a period of 10 days after returning from a color-coded red or orange country. If your treatment cannot be postponed, we will take adequate protective measures to protect you, our staff, visitors, and patients from a potential infection.

  • Were you marked as a close contact after contact screening or are you self-isolating?

Were you marked as a close contact after contact screening, or are you self-isolating? Please contact your practicing physician before your visit to the NKI at 020 5129111.

  • Visitors and accompanists

Visitors and patient accompanists who have recently returned from a color-coded orange or red region are asked not to come to our hospital until after the self-isolation period of 10 days. These measures also apply to visitors and accompanists who are self-isolating after having been marked as a close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Face mask / face shield policy

The safety of our patients, employees, and visitors always comes first. That’s why we urge all our visitors to wear a face mask when visiting the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

Patients and visitors

Do you have an appointment at the hospital, or would you like to visit someone? We urge you to wear a face mask at all times. All patients and visitors over the age of 13 should wear a face mask at our institute. You can put on your mask before entering the hospital and keep it on during your entire stay. The Dutch government urged us to make face masks in public indoor spaces mandatory.

Employees

The following policy applies to our staff:

  • Anyone working in direct patient care within 1.5 meters of the patients will wear a surgical face mask.
  • The following measure is still in effect: anyone working in direct patient care at a distance greater than 1.5 meters of the patient is sufficiently protected by means of a face shield but is allowed to wear a surgical face mask if desired.
  • All staff will wear a face shield or surgical face mask when in the public spaces at our hospital.

All other preventative measures also apply: the health screening at the hospital entrance,

Next to these protective measures, the following measures apply: health screening at the entrance for patients and visitors, regularly washing your hands, cover a cough or sneeze with your elbow, keep a social distance of 1.5 meters, and proper cleanliness and ventilation. Your and your safety is important to us.

The use of face masks for patients who are deaf or rely on lip-reading

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, your health care provider can wear a face shield to allow you to lip-read as normal.

If you cannot wear a face mask due to your health, you can take it off once you are in the consultation room or office. As long as you keep a social distance of 1.5 meters at all times. You are welcome to use a face shield if you have one.

If you are bringing a patient accompanist, please make sure that he or she wears a face mask for the duration of the visit. He or she is welcome to wear a face shield as well.