The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge all of us with new ways of living and working. It is our sincerest hope that you have the personal and professional support to navigate these difficult times. At POGO, we continue to monitor the situation, support each other, and work with our staff teams and healthcare partners to ensure continuity of care on behalf of children with cancer, their families, survivors and the childhood cancer care system. Here are some of the measures and initiatives now in place.
For our Healthcare Partners
- We have hosted conference calls among the hospitals with specialized children's cancer programs and with POGO Satellite Clinics to share best practices and facilitate communication regarding changes to clinical practice.
- To assist with clinical practice, we have curated reference lists of research articles and resources specific to COVID-19, available at www.pogo.ca.
- We have been working with Bruce Power to facilitate their generous donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) to our partner hospitals.
- We are working with the O’Keeffe’s Company®, makers of Working Hands®, to facilitate their generous donation of this hardworking hand cream to healthcare professionals in our partner hospitals. Working Hands is designed specifically to repair extremely dry, cracked hands.
For all Ontario Families with School-Aged Children
- With young children now at home, we have created In the Kitchen with Professor Pancake, a suite of curriculum-friendly activities tied to our Pajamas and Pancakes fundraising program that is a perfect combination of learning and fun for families. Help us raise awareness of children with cancer by signing up for the activity sheets and learning more about Pajamas and Pancakes here. Please also share with others!
For our Families of Children with Cancer
- Across Ontario, children with a new cancer diagnosis continue to be evaluated, undergo tests and start treatment with high priority and minimal disruption. POGO partner hospitals are taking strong and consistent action to reduce the risk for patients, in part by limiting and screening visitors.
- POGO Satellite Clinics, an important component of keeping patients safe and close to home, remain open. With consistent safety measures in place at our eight locations, treatment continues and infection control protocols remain rigorous for children in treatment who typically have weakened immune systems.
- Our 11 POGO Interlink Nurses are meeting with families in clinic or virtually, while adhering to the guidelines of the hospitals in which they are based. They are also helping families access financial and psychosocial support as some deal with job losses and most with the isolation that comes with physical distancing.
- Families registered in the POGO Financial Assistance Program continue to have their claims processed and reimbursed by direct deposit in a timely fashion. However, COVID-19 is compounding the financial burden these families face. Dr. Paul Gibson recently made this video plea for support.
- We are working with partner hotels and the Ministry of Health to improve access to overnight accommodation for families who need to travel away from home for treatment.
For Survivors of Childhood Cancer
- Appointments at the seven POGO AfterCare Clinics are now taking place by videoconference, or are rescheduled where possible to minimize potential COVID exposure.
- POGO Counsellors in the POGO School and Work Transitions Program are meeting with their clients by phone, email, Skype, FaceTime and other mutually convenient ways.
For our Donors
- We are working with third-party event hosts to support the transition of some fundraisers to virtual events, like The Toronto Women’s Run Series, now taking place May 17 to June 7.
- We are keeping it as easy as ever, because the need is as great as ever, for anyone to make a secure, online donation to POGO via this link.
For the Childhood Cancer Care System
- The pandemic has highlighted the importance of many of the goals in our Childhood Cancer Care Plan, including Right Care at the Right Time with POGO Satellite Clinics continuing to successfully provide components of care locally, freeing up capacity at hospitals with specialized children’s cancer programs. And, as we read above, providing access to Integrated Psychosocial Care at all Stages of the Cancer Journey is paramount at this time. POGO and our partners continue to make progress on these and other goals.
- We are prepared to collect data in POGONIS* of any confirmed COVID-19 cases in children with cancer so we can monitor and report on the pandemic's impact on these children and the system. (*POGO's active, population-based registry of incident cancer cases.)
We are grateful for your support of POGO and for the essential work being done by our healthcare partners during the COVID-19 pandemic and always.
Finally, please take a moment to read POGO’s renewed mission and vision.
With my very best wishes,
David Hodgson, MD, MPH, FRCPC
POGO Medical Director & Chair in Childhood Cancer Control
Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology & Institute of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation University of Toronto