Dominic Gentile, a veterinary medicine student at Iowa State University, received treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa’s safety protocols set his mind at ease.
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Dominic Gentile’s mother and two cousins visited him in Iowa City while he was receiving treatment. 

As a cancer patient who recently battled severe pneumonia, Dominic Gentile knows he has plenty of reasons to be extra cautious about his health care decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic. His visits to University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics have helped to put his mind at ease.

“I felt safe throughout the experience,” says Dominic, 26, a fourth-year veterinary student at Iowa State University. “The staff went above and beyond to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Dominic, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in June 2019, has had multiple visits with his UI Health Care providers during the pandemic, including receiving treatment from radiation oncologist John Buatti, MD, and medical oncologist Varun Monga, MBBS.

“It’s so important for patients like Dominic to keep up with their care plan,” Monga says. “Even patients who can’t make it in during these difficult times can stay connected with their doctors by having telehealth video or telephone visits.”

Dominic knew that his cancer treatments could compromise his immune system, but he also had severe pneumonia last September, leaving him especially concerned about a respiratory illness like COVID-19.

“I feel fine going in. Treatment is vital for your survival. Just take the necessary precautions. Don’t let fear of catching the virus prevent you from getting your treatment.”

Dominic Gentile
a patient receiving cancer treatments at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

Dominic Gentile shared a selfie on social media just before he had surgery to remove a tumor from his femur in October 2019.
Dominic Gentile shared a selfie on social media just before he had surgery to remove a tumor from his femur in October 2019.

“It’s definitely more concerning than for your average 25-year-old,” he says. “I took it upon myself to take precautions, like wearing a mask, frequent hand washing, and keeping my distance from people.”

With that kind of preparation, Dominic was confident about visiting his doctors. But the level of attention to patient safety that he witnessed in person left him even more assured that he was making the right choice for his care.

“There were signs with pertinent health information everywhere,” he says. “Plastic barriers were installed at all reception areas. There were extra hand sanitizer stations. The employees all wore plastic visors. And just about anything that could be touched by staff or a patient was disinfected and wiped down constantly.”

Dominic says his visit was simple and safe from the moment he entered, with staff at the doorway screening all entering patients and employees for signs of respiratory illness.

“That whole process added only maybe two minutes when I was entering the hospital, and the staff doing the screenings were friendly and helpful,” he says.

After spending the spring with his family in Pennsylvania, Dominic will return to Iowa in June for clinical rotations as part of his studies, and he will continue to get the care he needs from his UI Health Care providers.

“I feel fine going in,” he says. “Treatment is vital for your survival. Just take the necessary precautions. Don’t let fear of catching the virus prevent you from getting your treatment.”