A San Diego woman battling breast cancer is urging local hospitals to step up their safety measures to protect cancer patients during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
San Diegan Catherine Richardson, a patient at the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health in La Jolla, is concerned for cancer patients everywhere who have to continue to receive treatment during this time.
Richardson says many patients at the center have comprised immune systems. She is one of them.
"I currently have asthma and I have a lung infection," said Richardson. "So, it's rather stressful going into that environment every day, but a necessity for me."
In October Richardson was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of breast cancer.
"After the lumpectomy I am cancer-free and I'm very fortunate," she said.
Richardson still has to visit the hospital for daily radiation treatments to keep the cancer from returning.
She said she’s received great medical care at UC San Diego Health for years, but wants staff and patients to respect social distancing and avoid exposing patients to germs. Some simple measures that can be put in place, Richardson says, is for people to avoid touching sign-in sheets or grabbing visitor stickers.
UC San Diego Health said they are adding a new and more rigorous screening process including placing tape on the ground to enforce social distancing.
"We do try to enforce social distancing. However at busy times, some visitors have temporarily stood together more closely than desired," said Jackie Carr, Communications Executive Director at UC San Diego Health Sciences.
Carr said the tents out front of each center is a safety measure to screen employees and patients for any signs of respiratory illness.
"We are doing our best to resolve this issue with our patient ambassadors and security team," said Carr. "We are constantly working toward improving the process while fully implementing the strictest possible infection prevention measures."
Richardson wants everyone to take precautions and consider those most vulnerable during this time.
"No one need stress right now, we're all stressed, the cancer patients especially, said Richardson "What I felt like is I felt expendable at 55 years old."