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Winston-Salem nurse helps cancer patients with at-home treatment during COVID-19

From the start, health officials have encouraged at-risk populations to take extra precautions during the pandemic.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — From the start, health officials have encouraged at-risk populations to take extra precautions during the coronavirus pandemic. Cancer patients are among those at-risk, with compromised immune systems that make it easier for them to getting the virus.

That's why Phil Ellison, a nurse in Winston-Salem and oncology case manager is helping them get the care they need without them ever having to leave home. He works with Accordant, a branch of CVS Health. 

"Many of our patients who were on IV treatments are being transitioned to oral chemotherapy if possible," he said. "Our cancer population is highly susceptible to catching infections because of their compromised immune system's from their treatment so keeping them at home is all the more important if it's possible to limit their exposure to the virus."

From his home in Winston-Salem, Ellison helps cancer patients across the nation. He's licensed in 49 different states to help people with their medicine and side-effects but during COVID-19 he's also been called on to educate people who wouldn't have known about the virus otherwise.  

"I did have a patient that I reached out to her and heard about a new virus but had no clue the scale to which it was and hadn't heard about quarantining or anything so being able to provide that patient with the education that they needed to keep themselves safe while they're still very vulnerable to catching this infection even in a rule area was extremely important and I'm happy to say they're doing well right now," he said.

Even though Ellison plays an important role in helping people navigate all that a cancer diagnosis brings, he humbly says his job pales in comparison to what his patients are juggling every day during COVID-19.

"Working from home, taking care of their kid,s doing homeschooling on top of trying to learn everything they can about COVID-19 and the CDC guidelines that they need to keep themselves safe. It certainly is a monumental task on top of what they already have to deal with."