A message to our patients about COVID-19

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 for SCCA patients and families.

At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), our patients' health and safety are our top priorities. We have thorough safety measures in place to protect you, your caregivers and our staff. 

The information on this page is subject to change pending guidance from the CDC, WHO and/or Public Health – Seattle & King County.

COVID-19 vaccine

Does SCCA offer the COVID-19 vaccine?

SCCA offers the COVID-19 vaccine to patients and caregivers at SCCA’s South Lake Union clinic and at SCCA at UWMC – Northwest and EvergreenHealth by appointment only. Visit our vaccine page for more information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose or runny nose
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • New onset of diarrhea
  • Muscle aches and pains
What should SCCA patients do if they have symptoms?

If you have an appointment scheduled and have COVID-19 symptoms, please call your care team before coming to the clinic.

Knowing about symptoms before you come into the clinic helps us keep everyone safe.

COVID-19 and cancer

Are cancer patients at greater risk of contracting COVID-19?

According to SCCA’s medical director of Infection Prevention, Dr. Steven Pergam, patients with blood malignancies (non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and multiple myeloma) and those who have received bone marrow transplants are most vulnerable because they have the most profound immune deficits.

Patients who are in active treatment for any type of cancer are also at risk. Please see the CDC's webpage on COVID-19 and cancer for more information

Patients who are not in active treatment should also be cautious and follow widely distributed public health guidelines, which are detailed below under “What can I do to keep myself, my family and friends safe?”

COVID-19 and the flu

What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

The flu and COVID-19 are both contagious illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2). The flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

It may be hard to tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19 from symptoms alone because some of the symptoms are similar. You may need to get tested for COVID-19 to help confirm a diagnosis. For more information on COVID-19 and the flu, visit the CDC’s flu and COVID-19 webpage.

Keeping you safe

What is SCCA doing to protect patients?

SCCA is taking the following steps:
 

  • Screening everyone who enters the clinic for COVID-19 symptoms and providing COVID-19 testing when appropriate. 
     
  • Providing procedure masks to all staff working in the clinic.
     
  • Providing face shields to all healthcare workers.
     
  • All patients, visitors, and staff in SCCA clinics must wear a mask. If patients and visitors aren’t wearing one, a mask will be provided upon arrival. Please see CDC guidelines on how to protect yourself for more information.
     
  • Limiting the number of visitors. This includes:
    • Scheduling telehealth appointments for non-critical patient visits when possible.
    • Limiting the number of caregivers that patients can bring to their appointment (one caregiver; no children under 12). Our alliance partners, University of Washington Medical Center and Seattle Children's are also limiting visitors. Click on links for their updated policies.
    • Keeping all non-essential staff out of the clinic.
       
  • Postponing all patient education events, classes and volunteer opportunities. Some classes are available online at youtube.com/c/SCCAPatientEducation.
     
  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons.
     
  • Closing The Gift Shop in the South Lake Union clinic. Shine located next to SCCA House is open by appointment only for certain services. Shoppers can also call Shine to buy something over the phone and arrange for curbside pickup. Call Shine at (206) 606-7560 for more information or to make an appointment
Should I be worried about getting infected with COVID-19 at SCCA?

SCCA has extensive and thorough infection control procedures, and we are doing everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our community. We have protocols and systems in place to keep all patients, visitors and staff safe.

What can I do to keep myself, my family and friends safe?

The most important steps to take are:

  • Get vaccinated according to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for your personal health situation. 
     
  • Avoid going to gatherings with large numbers of people; heed social distancing guidelines.
     
  • Stay home when you are sick.
     
  • Wear a mask when you are out in public and cannot practice social distancing.
     
  • Wear a mask when in a health care setting, including SCCA clinics.
     
  • Practice good hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
     
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
     
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
     
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
     
  • Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or water systems. However, you can take extra steps to help protect your health while preparing, cooking and shopping for food. Visit our document downloads page and click on Food, Nutrition and COVID-19 for more information.
     
  • Plan how you will take care of sick family members. Make plans for childcare if you are sick or if your child is sick. Have a thermometer at home so you can check for fever if you or a loved one feels ill.
     
  • Stay informed – check the CDC site regularly for new updates.

Appointments/Telehealth

Can I have a telehealth appointment with my provider?

If you are a current SCCA patient and your provider decides it is medically appropriate, you may be able to have an appointment via telehealth. If it is an option for you, your scheduler/team coordinator will call you to make sure you have the right technology and schedule your appointment.

If you are new to SCCA and interested in a telehealth appointment, please contact our intake team at (855) 557-0555 to see if you are eligible.

Screening and testing

How is SCCA screening patients for COVID-19?

All who enter SCCA clinics are screened upon entry COVID-19 symptoms. Every person will be given an I’ve been screened sticker. Anyone with symptoms will be given a procedure mask and evaluated in a separate area.

Is SCCA testing patients for COVID-19?

We offer testing to eligible patients by appointment only. If you are an SCCA patient with symptoms and think you need to be tested for COVID-19, please call your care team. 

Patients who come to the clinic for appointments are evaluated and if they need to be tested, it is done in an enclosed area away from other patients and family members. 

How long does it take for results to come back?

Generally, we can get COVID-19 test results back within 24 hours.

Have any SCCA patients or staff had COVID-19?

SCCA has identified patients and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19. We are following the CDC and Department of Health guidelines for notifying people who are at risk of exposure and giving them guidance on next steps. Environmental Services has increased the frequency of cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons. The disinfectants that we use are effective at killing COVID-19.

Please be assured that SCCA has a robust and strict infection prevention protocol to safeguard the health and safety of our patients and staff.

Masks

Should I wear a mask in the clinic?

Yes. In line with CDC guidance, all patients, visitors, and staff in SCCA clinics must wear a mask. If you’re coming for an appointment, please wear a mask. If someone comes with you, they should wear one, too. A mask will be provided to those who aren’t wearing one. 

By covering your mouth and nose, you are less likely to spread the virus when you are not showing symptoms (asymptomatic) or have early symptoms.

Should I wear a mask in public?

Washington state requires people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces such as stores, offices and restaurants and outdoors when you can't stay 6 feet apart from others. 

You do not need to wear a mask:

  • In your home when you are only with people in your household.
     
  • When you are alone in your car. 
     
  • When you are outdoors and people are more than six feet apart.

For exceptions and other information, visit Washington state’s coronavirus response website.

How do I wear a mask?

To put on a mask: 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or hand gel (if soap and water aren’t available).
     
  • Without touching the front of your face covering, stretch the bands around your ears or secure the ties around your head (depending on the type of face covering you have). 
     
  • Cover the area from the bridge of your nose to under your chin. 
     
  • Fit the mask snugly but comfortably against the side of your face.
     
  • Make sure you can breathe without restriction.
     
  • Wash your hands.

 

To remove your mask:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or hand gel (if soap and water aren’t available).
     
  • Untie the ties from your head or remove the bands from your ears.
     
  • Remove the mask by the straps. Do not touch the front or inside of the mask (the part over your nose and mouth). It may be contaminated from your breathing, coughing or sneezing. If you touch the mask, wash your hands.
     
  • Wash your hands.

 

Important tips:

  • Wash your hands each time you put on and take off your mask. 
     
  • Avoid touching the front of your mask while you’re wearing it. If you do, wash your hands. 
     
  • Do NOT pull the mask down to expose your nose or mouth. Adjust the mask using the ties on your head or cords around your ears.

Daily activities and going out

Is it safe to go out in public?

In general, the closer you are to others and the longer the time you are with them, the higher the risk of spreading COVID-19. If you decide to go out in public, protect yourself by following the guidelines under "What can I do to keep myself, my family and friends safe?"

Is it safe to do things like go to work, the grocery store, restaurants, and special events? What about traveling?
What can I do after I am fully vaccinated? Do I still need to protect myself and others?

If it has been two weeks since you received your second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or your single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you are considered “fully vaccinated”. We have separated the guidelines for fully vaccinated people into two groups. Please make sure to follow the guidelines that apply to you. 

Group 1 

Includes fully vaccinated SCCA patients who: 

  • Have not yet started treatment 
  • Are in active treatment 
  • Have recently completed treatment 
  • Have weakened immune symptoms, for example, allogeneic and autologous transplant patients 

Guidance for group 1 

These patients should remain cautious. Although you may hear that others may get together after getting vaccinated, people with cancer are more vulnerable. We don’t know how well the vaccines work in people with cancer, particularly those who are on active treatment. 
Until we know more about the effectiveness of vaccines in cancer patients, fully vaccinated people with cancer should continue to: 

  • Wear a well-fitted mask and practicing physical distancing when in public. 
  • Wear masks, practice physical distancing and follow other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people outside of your household. 
  • Avoid in-person gatherings with those outside your household. 
  • Avoid airline travel.  
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 

Group 2 

Includes fully vaccinated SCCA patients who: 

  • Are long-term cancer survivors not on immunosuppression 
  • Have a disease that required surgery only (no chemotherapy or radiation) 
  • Have cancer treated with hormone therapy only 

or 

Fully vaccinated healthy caregivers and household contacts 

Guidance for group 2 

According to the CDC, these people: 

  • Can visit indoors, in small groups, with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or physical distancing at either your house or theirs.  
  • Can visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for COVID-19 without wearing masks or physical distancing at either your house or theirs. Low risk means that those people are being very cautious, masking and physical distancing. 
  • No longer need to quarantine or get a COVID-19 test after a known exposure if they do not have symptoms (are asymptomatic). 
  • Should continue to protect themselves in public, including wearing a well-fitted mask, physical distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. 

Visit our COVID-19 vaccine webpage to learn more about the vaccine and scheduling an appointment.  

How you can help

Donate blood

Blood drive cancellations due to the COVID-related closures of schools, businesses and events are jeopardizing our region’s blood supply. A healthy blood supply is vital to cancer treatment. If you are healthy and able, please consider donating blood or spreading the word about our current need. Find out more about donating blood at Bloodworks Northwest.

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COVID-19 vaccines: what you need to know

We know many of you have questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. We look forward to offering you the vaccine as soon as it is available to the public and you qualify based on the state’s timeline. We are not currently scheduling patients for the vaccine or taking names for a waiting list.

We will update this web page with new information as it becomes available.