CancerNetwork® sat down with Luciano Costa, MD, PhD, at the 2021 International Myeloma Workshop to talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic affected his work and how they adapted.
At the 2021 International Myeloma Workshop, CancerNetwork® spoke with Luciano Costa, MD, PhD, of O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, about how the COVID-19 pandemic initially impacted clinical trial participation at his institution and how they have since evolved to adapt to a new normal.
At the beginning of the pandemic, like everybody else, we faced a lot of uncertainty and reacted to that very conservatively. We had an [incremental increase] in telehealth visits, and we established mandatory testing for our invasive procedures. Of course, we implemented universal masking, gloving, and social distancing in our waiting areas and so forth. Thanks to a lot of coordination and hard work from the front-end research and support teams in the front of the institution, we were able to not badly hurt our operations, never stopped taking new patients, and we never stopped therapy of any sorts. [We also] never stopped doing transplant [and] we never stopped enrolling patients into clinical trials. [I’m not saying] that those things have gone normally; especially the clinical trial activities have become very challenging. At the beginning of the pandemic, patients were very reluctant to embrace a new therapy, or embrace uncertainty. They were already surrounded by so much uncertainty of the pandemic itself. Over time, that has gotten a lot better, but there [are] still some challenges from all the turnover that has happened to the workforce. Nowadays, our volumes are normal. We still have some room to improve in terms of normalizing our clinical trial operations.