Coronavirus and Important Changes to Our Operations Temporarily
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Coronavirus and Important Changes to Our Operations Temporarily

March 13, 2020
President Jay S. Feldstein, DO, and Provost Kenneth J. Veit, DO, MBA

We are now confronted with a rapidly changing and unprecedented global emergency. This is not the experience we imagined as classes began; we extend our compassion and concern to all members of the College community.

We are deeply committed to the safety and health of our students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors. As COVID-19 (coronavirus) reaches pandemic status, we are compelled to emphasize key responsibilities we have as a healthcare institution:

We have an obligation to promote responsible prevention practices. Every indication is that COVID-19 will be around for a while, and there will be no vaccine or antiviral for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean we have to resign ourselves to infection. We have at our disposal common-sense prevention measures that are highly effective, such as handwashing, social distancing, limiting travel to areas with high-infection rates and staying home when you feel ill. These interventions are not groundbreaking; they are, however, impactful.

We have a responsibility to advocate for truth. As healthcare professionals, it is our responsibility not only to protect ourselves, but also each other, and that means advocating for simple, yet vitally important, prevention practices. But, more than that, we as leaders and trusted sources are in a position to educate the public and to dispel some of the myths about the ailment. We must also work to protect against social stigma and discrimination. And we must partner with one another as professionals, sharing our efforts and initiatives to combat COVID-19.

And most importantly, we have a responsibility to take precautions to protect our students, our faculty and staff, our patients and our visitors alike. COVID-19 presents our world, our nation and our College with a unique public health challenge that is all the more unsettling because of the uncertainties associated with its spread. Our College has formed a COVID-19 Task Force, and together, we are closely monitoring guidance from the CDC and relevant departments of health.

Beginning on March 16, we are making major changes—temporarily—to our operations. We are determined to ensure that our essential educational and patient care missions continue to be carried out without interruption:

  • The College will move to a virtual instruction model; academic and curricular labs will be suspended. Faculty will communicate individual course processes and set curricular expectations. Classes that cannot be taught online will be held on campus. The deans of our academic schools will guide this process.
  • Students on clerkships and electives will follow COVID-19 guidelines as determined by the hospital/health system/private practice where they are currently engaged. The Office of Clinical Education will guide this process.
  • Staff will begin to work remotely—in conjunction with their supervisors. PCOM Human Resources will guide this process.
  • PCOM Healthcare Centers will remain open with normal staffing and business hours at this time.
  • The College will remain open (including the library and cafeteria); hours may be reduced. Security will be present 24/7.

The COVID-19 virus is readily spread through close human contact. Canceling or postponing large gatherings, social events, attendance at professional conferences and research meetings, and other work-related travel will create social distancing and help prevent the spread of disease.

Students, faculty, and staff who have traveled to a country with a CDC Warning Level 3 Travel Advisory or a Department of State Level 3 or 4 Travel Advisory for the coronavirus must self-quarantine for 14 days upon return to the country. Students, faculty, and staff who may have come in contact with anyone with an actual or possible COVID-19 infection must stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days. Please notify PCOM Student Affairs or PCOM Human Resources and contact your healthcare provider for instructions should any symptoms develop.

As physicians, we have practiced through epidemics and pandemics. As they say, this, too, shall pass. But until it does, let’s not lose sight of our responsibility to care for one another, for our patients and for the health of our fellow citizens.

We appreciate your patience and understanding given the swiftly changing nature of this situation. We will continue to communicate with you and update our plans as new data and evidence emerges.

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