Organizational Challenges in the Italian Pediatric Onco-Hematology Units
During COVID-19 Pandemia: A National Survey
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a global health emergency.
Health systems are under extreme pressure because of the outbreak.
Pediatric population seems to be less prone to develop a severe course
of the disease. Still the information about COVID-19 infection and
children affected by cancer are few. This survey aims to highlight
preventive and control measures to manage COVID-19 infection in Italian
Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Association (AIEOP) centers.
Procedure: A multicentre, descriptive survey design was used. All the
AIEOP centers were invited to complete an on-line survey. Data
collection was performed between March 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020.
Results: Thirty six out of 48 centers responded to the survey. All the
centers implemented similar preventive measures in order to control the
COVID-19 spread and 77.8% of centers have created structured pathways,
specific protocols or procedures; 30% of centers reduced the number of
inpatient beds and 90% outpatient activity. The prevalence data
collected report 14 children positive and 35 healthcare professionals
positive. Conclusion: COVID-19 is not spreading homogeneously in Italy
and children are less infected. However, all the AIEOP centers showed
preparedness and response actions to control the infection and to
protect their own fragile patients. Patients and staff safety were
maintained; services and clinical activities were sometimes adapted. It
will be necessary to define new processes and new strategies to ensure
safety and continuity of care to children affected by cancer, even in
the future, when the lockdown will end, and new measures will be