For years, said Mark Bonnen, M.D., head of radiation oncology at the Mays Cancer Center, “it has bothered me that when I go to a restaurant and wait for a table, they can text me when my table is available, but that we weren’t doing that in the radiation department.” 

So when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, “it made even more sense,” added Dr. Bonnen, also the chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology in the Long School of Medicine. 

woman looking at cell phone With the help of Bill Nordwick, manager of radiation therapy at the cancer center, and Josh Asper, a radiation oncology specialist, Dr. Bonnen implemented a cell phone waiting system for radiation therapy patients. 

“The patients are calling our front desk when they arrive to be checked in,” Nordwick said. “They will then receive a message that we are ready for the patient to enter the building for treatment or that we have received their message and to please wait for the ‘Ready for Treatment’ text.” 

The idea is to control the number of people in the waiting room and thereby maintain the social distancing guidelines, Nordwick said.  

“Most of our patients are high risk and immunocompromised,” he added. It’s important that we attempt to limit any possible exposures to COVID.” 

While he’s still tweaking the process, “it’s getting better every day,” Nordwick said. “The reaction has been good. I think that patients understand that we are trying to keep them safe and in general appreciate the efforts.”  

The Mays Cancer Center is home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.