Frequently Asked Questions
This is an unprecedented time—and we understand that you have pressing questions. As the situation evolves, we will update this FAQ page frequently. We are committed to responsiveness, transparency, and accuracy in all our communications with you.
Will there be sufficient PPE?
Yes. Appropriate PPE such as isolation gowns, gloves, surgical masks, and eye protection. N-95 respirators will be provided for extended use and limited reuse if indicated.
Will all staff be required to don full PPE for every patient encounter?
No, however all staff will be required to wear a surgical mask at all times and to follow universal precautions. Providers who are performing certain procedures will need to don full PPE as well as providers who will evaluate a symptomatic patient under investigation or COVID-19 patient.
How will we ensure we have adequate PPE and who would be responsible for ordering & managing par levels?
The health system has done a lot of work to ensure we have adequate PPE on hand. Each department will need to follow PPE re-ordering processes as established by their local leadership.
Will staff be required to practice social distancing from each other? If yes, how will this be enforced?
It would be challenging to have staff work 6 feet away from each other so all staff will be wearing a surgical mask at all times instead. The CDC and NYSDOH recommend that individuals wear face coverings if the recommended 6 feet of distance cannot be accomplished. This recommendation applies during breaks and lunch time as well.
How would we manage for social distancing among physicians and other staff in work areas?
In keeping with the CDC social distancing guidelines, staff will be required to wear a mask in times when maintaining 6 feet distance between each other cannot be accomplished. We also encourage everyone to maximize the use of other computer areas including the exam rooms.
Will the departments be required to test their symptomatic patients for COVID-19?
If a patient is symptomatic, the care appointment should be rescheduled to a later date after symptom resolution (10 days after onset of symptoms and at least 72 hours without a fever without taking fever reducing medications and respiratory symptoms have improved).
Will all staff be tested for COVID-19?
Staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms will be required to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, temperature < 100oF for at least 72 hours, and respiratory symptoms have improved. Symptomatic employees who are recommended to get tested for COVID-19 by the PCR test can contact EHS for a testing appointment.
Is an individual who previously tested positive for COVID-19 considered unsafe around others?
Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 form antibodies to the virus. If symptoms like fever have subsided and respiratory symptoms have improved, they are no longer contagious. All health care workers and patients alike will be required to wear a surgical mask at all times to dramatically reduce the likelihood of transmission.
Will a COVID-19 PCR test be required prior to performing possible aerosol generating procedures?
Each specialty will identify a subset of their patient population that will require COVID-19 PCR testing prior to their visit based on specific clinical guidelines & recommendations. For some procedures, pre-procedure testing will not be required but appropriate PPE will be available.
Does having positive SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19) antibodies mean you are now immune?
Based on our knowledge of how the body reacts to an infection, we presume that the presence of IgG antibodies could mean that you have some level of immunity to a virus.
However, at this time, it is unclear whether the presence of SARS CoV-2 IgG antibodies will result in immunity to prevent future COVID-19 infections. Studies are needed to determine if people who test positive for SARS CoV-2 IgG antibodies are immune when exposed to SARS CoV-2 again in the future.
Will the lobby screening and masking remain in place? During what hours of the day?
Yes, the lobby screening for signs & symptoms of an active infection will remain in place and patients who do not have a face covering upon arrival will be provided a surgical mask in the lobby. Hours of operation will vary by site based on each location's needs.
Will we be monitoring patient temps in the lobby before they gain access to the departments?
The lobby screening will include temperature monitoring.
Do we have any plans of eliminating patient waits to usher patients directly into an exam room where all care would be rendered, including check-out?
Departmental leadership are working on establishing workflows that will help reduce the amount of time patients spend in waiting areas.
Will we consider outfitting some exam rooms to negative pressure rooms?
Converting existing exam rooms into negative pressure rooms is not necessary. There are no recommendations from public health officials to do so in the ambulatory setting.
Will the floors be marked to designate social distancing guidelines?
Yes, the elevator banks will be marked to provide a visual aid on social distancing.
Will any other type of barrier be installed at the front desk?
No. All staff and patients will be wearing face coverings which will be as effective as barriers. We also recommend marking the floor to indicate 6 feet from the front desk.
What is our expected reopen date?
In-person visits will be resumed in phases effective May 18, 2020.
Can staff still work from home after we are open due to childcare issues?
Please discuss your needs with your immediate supervisor. The decision will be made based on departmental needs.
Will we schedule patients differently to prevent overcrowding of our waiting rooms?
Yes, departmental leadership is identifying ways to better streamline scheduling to prevent overcrowding in waiting areas.
Will we practice social distancing in our waiting rooms?
Yes. The Managers will create schedules to allow for reduced patient volume to ensure social distancing. Signage will be on chairs that should not be occupied to support social distancing.
Will telehealth visits continue for patients who do not need urgent care and only prioritize urgent care patients for in-person visits?
Telehealth visits will continue to be available and in-person patient visits will resume in phases based on clinical needs.
Will the practices designate specific areas for patients who come in for their appointments and are symptomatic with COVID-19?
If a patient is symptomatic, the appointment should be rescheduled to a later date after symptom resolution (10 days after onset of symptoms and at least 72 hours without a fever without taking fever reduction medication and respiratory symptoms have improved); however, a designated room will be identified in each practice if a patient presents with symptoms and needs to be evaluated by a provider.
Will patients be required to wear a face covering during their visit? If they don’t have a face covering, will one be provided?
Yes, all patients will be required to come into our facilities with a face covering on. If they don’t have a face covering upon arrival to the lobby, a surgical mask will be provided.
Will patients be required to perform hand hygiene before they are attended to by staff?
Yes but the request must be communicated in a professional and respectable manner. For example, you could say "I will clean my hands now, would you please also sanitize with some hand sanitizer?"
If a patient presents with gloves on, what protocol should we follow?
Please ask them to kindly remove their gloves and perform hand hygiene. If they insist on having a pair of gloves on during the visit, please provide them with a clean pair of gloves after performing hand hygiene.
Will the environment of care be cleaned with more frequency than previous?
Yes but this will be a combined effort between EVS and each department. In addition to EVS, local departments should establish a process for more routine disinfection of frequently touched surfaces like door knobs, countertops, exam tables, etc.
Do we have adequate hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes?
Yes, we do. Please contact your local materials management team for supply.