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Radiotherapy in Southern Italy at the time of COVID-19: options for radiation oncology units
  1. Donato Pezzulla1,
  2. Gabriella Macchia1,
  3. Francesco Taccari2,
  4. Giovanna Sticca3 and
  5. Francesco Deodato1
  1. 1 Radiotherapy Unit, Gemelli Molise Hospital, Campobasso, Italy
  2. 2 Infectious Diseases Consultant, Gemelli Molise Hospital, Campobasso, Italy
  3. 3 Health Management Unit, Gemelli Molise Hospital, Campobasso, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gabriella Macchia, Radiotherapy Unit, Gemelli Molise Hospital, 86100 Campobasso, Italy; macchiagabriella{at}


Introduction The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread to many countries and has been declared a global health emergency. Our center is located in the south of Italy where the infection rates were low and the clusters of COVID-19 positive patients were small and inhomogeneous. The aim of this short report is to share our experience as a starting point for the management of the steady state of the pandemic.

Methods The safety of the patients and department staff required a strict plan to minimize the risk of infection between operators whose absence would have made it impossible to carry out the radiotherapy treatments. The head of the radiotherapy unit and members of the Hospital Crisis Unit have put in place a series of measures to manage the emergency.

Results A “clean” team has been established whose members are kept out of the radiotherapy unit for 2 weeks on rotation. Several separate work areas have been made in order to reduce direct contact between the staff. Each staff member has to wear protective equipment if close contact with patients is required. Before confirming a radiotherapy consult or a follow-up visit, telephone clinical and epidemiological screening is performed by nurses through a questionnaire regarding the presence of respiratory symptoms or eventual social contacts with COVID-19 positive people. Once the patients arrive in the hospital, a triage point at the entrance to the hospital performs a second screening and a temperature check.

Conclusions This management experience of a radiotherapy unit in Southern Italy could serve as a useful example for the future. In fact, in the steady state of infection many centers may face epidemiologically contagious numbers similar to those that we currently have in our region. These numbers require the maintenance of alert and precautionary measures which in our case seem to have worked.

  • neoplasms
  • radiation oncology

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  • DP and GM contributed equally.

  • Contributors The manuscript has been read and approved for submission by all authors. All persons listed as authors have contributed to preparing the manuscript and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) criteria for authorship have been met. Moreover no person or persons other than the authors listed have contributed significantly to its preparation.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.