In light of the recent outbreak of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), Keck Medicine of USC administrative and medical leadership have been working diligently to institute actions to keep our environments safe and deliver quality care to our patients.
As always, our top priority is to ensure the safety of our staff, faculty, patients and visitors. We know this is a time of heightened concern, and are taking the utmost precautions in ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff and faculty so that we can be at our best in taking care of our vulnerable patient population.
We are developing our plans with close contact and monitoring of the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
The following is a high-level summary of the latest topics we would like our community to be aware of, noting more detailed communications are being rolled out to appropriate stakeholders, depending on the topic:
Updated Visitor Policy
We are putting practical processes in place to increase our vigilance for those who enter our facilities, including the use of screening stations in several of our settings. The intent is to ensure visitors who have certain risk factors, such as a symptomatic illness, will be appropriately managed and in certain cases, will not be permitted entry into our care environment.
For our acute settings, the following guidelines are being implemented:
- When visiting inpatient rooms, only one visitor will be permitted at a time.
- No visitors under the age of 14 will be permitted.
- Visitors that do not have business to conduct within the facility will not be granted access.
- Certain exceptions will be granted with appropriate protections, such as for loved ones who have requested to visit patients who are approaching end of life.
Temporary Ban on International and Domestic Business Travel
Effective March 10, Keck Medicine of USC, Keck School of Medicine and the University as a whole, has temporarily banned business travel for all international and domestic trips. By limiting our exposure to the risks associated with COVID-19, especially travel-related exposure and large gatherings, we hope to maintain the safety of our patients and staff, and contribute to the country’s overall containment strategies.
Use Virtual communication Platforms Instead of In-Person Meetings
When possible, employees are advised to utilize virtual communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom in place of in-person meetings.
Microsoft Teams integrates with Office 365. It offers chatting, screen and document sharing, video and telephone conferencing all in one place. Every non-clinical device already has teams installed, and you can send Teams meetings directly from your Outlook calendar. Download the complete instruction guide.
Additionally, Zoom is an external service that allows you to chat, video conference, screen share, and host webinars with collaborators; please set up your free USC account. Support for this platform is provided by ITS. For more help, you can call (213) 740-5555. A user guide is also available.
For questions, contact the Help Desk at (323) 442-4444 or by emailing HelpDesk@med.usc.edu.
Upcoming Public and Large-Scale Organization-Sponsored Events Are Being Postponed
In addition to the domestic and international business travel ban, we are suspending all USC sponsored large-scale gatherings, both on campus and off, through March 30, 2020. Please plan on rescheduling these gatherings for later dates.
When possible, meeting hosts are encouraged to provide a call-in number or Zoom capability for all meetings.
Increased Cleaning Efforts Have Been Deployed For All Facilities
We have doubled the frequency of cleaning and sanitization within our facilities. But ensuring a sanitary environment requires the help of everyone which includes frequent handwashing and cleaning up after oneself following meetings.
Additionally, the dietary management team has implemented new procedures which involve dietary leadership patrolling kitchen areas every even hour to ensure employees wash their hands, replace sanitizer buckets, and keep clean their respective work areas.
Vendor Meetings Should Not Take Place in Person
Effective immediately, all meetings scheduled with vendors should take place virtually, via teleconference, or on platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. In-person meetings with vendor representatives should not take place in any Keck Medicine of USC facility.
Procedures Around the Deployment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Currently, there is a global shortage of masks and other supplies. We have centralized distribution of our PPE to ensure we haveproper controls to extend our inventory. We do have PPE in stock to protect both our employees and patients and are deploying and utilizing our supply consistent with CDC, CDPH and Infection Control guidelines.
Employees who declined to receive the flu shot and are required to wear a mask while in Keck Medicine facilities should obtain a mask from their manager.
Patient COVID-19 Screening and Testing Procedures
Appropriate measures have been put in place at all entry points to our facilities, and in our call centers, for the screening and testing of patients. Additionally, clinical workflows have been developed to manage the various scenarios we expect to face. These processes are designed and executed using the most up-to-date CDC, WHO and CDPH guidelines and will change as conditions evolve. As mentioned earlier, more specific communications are being deployed to key stakeholders who are directly involved in these clinical processes.
Expansion of Telemedicine Capabilities
In order to further our efforts to protect our caregivers and patients, all healthcare providers have been provided rapid credentials for telemedicine and we are working as quickly as possible to scale up our capabilities. Additional information will be provided to providers as it becomes available.
Please utilize the below resources for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.
- External Keck Medicine COVID-19 resource page
- Internal COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness site
- Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention
Additionally, for general questions related to COVID-19, contact Employeehotline@med.usc.edu . Please note, this address should be utilized for non-emergency concerns and travel-related inquiries, not return to work clearance matters.
To date, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any of our facilities. If there is a confirmed case of novel coronavirus at Keck Medicine, we have a well-established communicable disease protocol that will be activated.
Most importantly, please remember to take care of yourself. This includes staying home if you are sick, washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, covering your cough with your elbow or sleeve, and avoiding touching your nose, mouth or eyes.
Since this matter is evolving daily, we are closely monitoring the situation and will provide updates as needed.
Chief Operating Officer, Keck Medicine of USC
Chief Executive Officer, Keck Medical Center of USC