Information about COVID-19

Infection rates in the Netherlands are still high, and the pressure on our health care is high. We are working hard to stop the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus.

As many of our patients at the Netherlands Cancer Institute are vulnerable. To give them access to safe care, we have limited our visitation policy. This helps limit contact moments and the chance of infection.

We ask you to reconsider your visit to the NKI if you have symptoms related to COVID-19, like a cold or fever. We ask all visitors to wear a face mask covering mouth and nose, and to keep a social distance of 1.5 meters from others. This is still as important as ever.

We work hard to make sure that all appointments and procedures at our hospital can continue as scheduled. Some patients coming in for less urgent procedures may need to wait longer than usual. Less urgent means that this wait time is completely safe and that there will be no long-term effects. All procedures will only be postponed with the express permission of the patient's practicing physician.

A quick overview of our policy:

  • Symptoms? Please do not come to the NKI. We ask that patients experiencing symptoms contact us so we can determine the severity of the symptoms and whether the appointment can continue.
  • Patients staying at one of our wards can receive 1 visitor a day (24 hours) as long as they are not experiencing symptoms and they wear a face mask. Even when you are in the patient's room. It is hard to keep a social distance at all times. We cannot allow more visitors a day. This helps limit contact moments and the chance of infection.
    Patients can also bring along 1 child under the age of 12. He or she will not count towards the total number of visitors. Visitation hours are between 15.30 and 19.30.
  • Max 1 support person: All patients coming in for hospital admission or surgery can bring 1 support person. For all other departments, every patient can bring 1 support person as well as long as they are not experiencing symptoms and they wear a face mask. The only exception is our Radiation Oncology Department. We request that all patients coming to our Radiation Oncology Department ask their support person to wait in the central hall or outside, instead of at the department.
  • Social distancing - it works: We strongly recommend social distancing.
  • We will continue to wear face masks: Many patients at the Netherlands Cancer Institute are vulnerable and will get a third vaccine because they are not fully protected yet. 
  • We will continue to hold phone or video consultations
  • Hygiene policy still applies: Please wash your hands often, cover a sneeze or cough with your elbow, use paper tissues, and do not shake hands.
  • Do not come to the NKI if you are experiencing symptoms: We ask our patients to contact us if they are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19. We will determine whether you can come in for your appointment. 
  • Elevators accessible to up to 4 people at a time: Keep a social distance and please remember to wear a face mask.

Our COVID-19 policy

Precautions will remain in effect

Patients with cancer are vulnerable. We have learned more and more about COVID-19, the coronavirus, over the past year and now know that patients with cancer - especially those with cancer in the blood (leukemia or lymphoma) and patients with metastases from lung cancer or other cancers who are receiving chemotherapy are at risk for more serious COVID-19 symptoms than people who do not have cancer. It is very important that all people with cancer receive vaccinations against COVID. The regular measures, hand hygiene, social distancing, wearing a face mask and barring entry for people with symptoms will remain in effect to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

In general: treatment will continue as normal

Our main priority is to get all our patients through these turbulent times. We assess each patient's individual personal situation to find the best 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 if possible

Our physicians and nurses will continue to schedule video consultations. 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.

Trials continue as planned

Our trials, including Phase I trials, have reopened as of May 7. If you think you may qualify for participation, please contact your practicing physician.

Testing for COVID-19 before surgery

If you are admitted to the Netherlands Cancer Institute for surgery or procedure requiring general anesthesia, we will test you for COVID-19. This only applies to patients who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 and who are older than 65. You may have caught COVID-19 without showing symptoms (yet). 

We have started screening on November 22. We test patients two weekdays before their appointment at the OR with a PCR test. We will contact you in time to invite you to visit our yellow clinic (poli geel) here we will ask about any potential symptoms and administer a PCR test. 

Precautions

Cold symptoms, shortness of breath, or fever?

Visitors and support persons 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. 

Are you coming in for hospital admission or an appointment? 
Please let us know, preferably a day in advance, whether you:

  • are experiencing health symptoms related to COVID-19;
  • tested positive for COVID-19;
  • are a close contact in contact tracing;
  • have returned from a color-coded red area and need to self-isolate.

if any of the above apply, please contact +31(0)20 – 512 9111. We will assess your symptoms and determine whether you can come in for your appointment.

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.

Visitors and support policy adjusted

Visitation policy adjusted: 1 visitors per day
Patients staying at one of our wards can receive 1 visitors a day (24 hours), as long as they are not experiencing symptoms and they wear a face mask.

Patients can also bring along 1 child under the age of 12. He or she will not count towards the total number of visitors. Visitation hours are between 15.30 and 19.30.

Max 1 support person
All patients coming in for hospital admission or surgery can bring 1 support person. For all other departments, every patient can bring 1 support person as well as long as they are not experiencing symptoms and they wear a face mask. The only exception is our Radiation Oncology Department. We request that all patients coming to our Radiation Oncology Department ask their support person to wait in the central hall or outside, instead of at the department.

Please observe the following measures when visiting the hospital:

  • Do not visit the NKI if you are experiencing respiratory symptoms (coughing, cold symptoms), a sore throat, or a fever.
  • Keep a social distance and wear a face mask at all times.

We ask all visitors to our hospital to observe the hygiene guidelines as outlined by the RIVM.

Face mask / face shield policy

We kindly request that patients and visitors keep wearing face masks. Our patients have made known that they appreciate this additional protective measure. Many patient groups at the Netherlands Cancer Institute will need a third vaccine for increased protection. They will be invited for this vaccine by their practicing physician in October. For their safe access to our care, we will continue to wear face masks or face shields. The plexiglass screens in our consultation rooms and at the desks will stay in place.

Our staff will also wear face masks or face shields when in contact with patients.

The plexiglass screens at the consultation rooms and desks will remain in place.

Social distancing - it works

Social distancing is mandatory at our institute to stop the spread of COVID-19.

RIVM Personal hygiene policy

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we adhere to the RIVM personal hygiene policy:

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

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

Phone / video consultations when 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 has the necessary technology available. These consultations can be used to discuss side effects of the treatment, or 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

Are you coming to the hospital for admission o do you have an appointment at our Radiotherapy or Radiology Department, Outpatient Clinic, or OBC? Or is this your first time at the clinic? Please notify us immediately if you:

  • Are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19;
  • Tested positive for COVID-19;
  • have been marked as a close contact in contact tracing;
  • Have recently returned from a color-coded orange or red region and need to self-isolate.

Please contact us at 020 – 512 9111. Our staff will assess your situation and will decide whether you can come in for 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 support persons

Visitors and support persons 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 support persons who are self-isolating after having been marked as a close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

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 support person, 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.

Frequently asked questions about COVID vaccines

I am receiving immunotherapy and/or chemotherapy. Is a vaccination safe for me?

The VOICE study (a trial in which the Netherlands Cancer Institute participated)has shown that most patients with tumors in organs or tissue for which they are treated with immunotherapy and/or chemotherapy respond well to the COVID vaccine. Patients with cancer can receive their vaccine during the treatment, and this is safe for them.

The Dutch Health Council recommends a third vaccine for a certain patient group with serious immune disorders to increase protection against COVID. Thi booster shot will only be available to patients who are known or suspected to be insufficiently protected by their previous two vaccines by medical specialists. All patients who quality have received a letter about their vaccine.

We recommend all cancer patients to get their vaccinations when receiving an invitation from the government and not postponing the moment for the sake of their treatment. 

I am scheduled for surgery or radiation treatment. Is a vaccination safe for me?

There are no reasons to believe that patients with cancer are at risk of additional vaccine side effects. We recommend all cancer patients who are scheduled for surgery or radiation treatment to get their vaccinations.

Why do we ask to register your vaccination status in your medical file?

As of Thursday, June 3, we will register your vaccination status in your medical file. if you are vaccinated, we will register the date and type of vaccine. One of our members of staff will ask you about your vaccination status within the coming weeks if you have an appointment at the NKI. You are not obligated to give us this information if you would prefer not to.

we register this information because we want to ensure that you receive the best care and treatment possible. For that, we will need to have an accurate overview of our patients' situations, which requires information about various things like medications you take, and your vaccination status. We currently do not know whether the vaccines are as effective in preventing COVID-19 for people with cancer who are receiving immunotherapy or chemotherapy. That's why we also want to know the time of your vaccination.

Just like all other information in your medical file, we will handle your data with care and in accordance with the privacy regulations.

When can I get a booster vaccine?

People are eligible for a COVID-19 booster vaccine 3 months after their last vaccination (first, second and third vaccine). People who have had OVID-19 after their last vaccine can get the booster shot 3 months after recovery.

Click here for more information.