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Dr. Aarti Bhatia talks about staying productive and positive during COVID-19

April 28, 2020

What kind of research do you generally focus on?
I am a medical oncologist by training and my clinical and research interest is in the treatment of head and neck cancers. I conduct clinical trials that help advance the care of my patients.

How difficult was it making the switch from working on campus to working remotely? What were/are some of the challenges you're facing? It has involved quite a few challenges like clustering patients that need to be seen to fewer clinic days, transitioning some other patients from in-person visits to Telehealth visits, and moving group meetings to web meetings, but our team has pulled together very well to make these changes.

How are you staying connected with your co-workers?
We meet in clinic when we see patients and have web meetings every week to stay connected on matters pertaining to patient care and clinical research.

What are your biggest worries concerning your ongoing research/future research?
We have closed ongoing clinical trials to new patient accrual for the time being. This impacts the study timeline. I am also concerned about funding feasibility and initiation of proposed studies.

You also care for patients. How are you transitioning their care during this time?
Patients who have been in cancer remission and seeing us for routine follow-up have mostly been transitioned to Telehealth visits.

What are the biggest concerns patients have about their treatment?
Patients who still need to come in for cancer treatments are obviously worried about contracting the virus from being in the hospital.

Are there any advantages working remotely?
You get to spend more time with family and kids.

Do you have any words of wisdom/message for fellow scientists/clinicians for getting through this difficult time?
We’ve all had to learn to be nimble with juggling a new normal at the workplace and home. I think it’s important to do our best with prioritizing patient safety while caring for ourselves and our loved ones, but we shouldn’t berate ourselves if we’re not as efficient as before.

Submitted by Anne Doerr on April 28, 2020