Coronavirus: vial with pipette in laboratory

COVID-19 Information and Resources for Clinical Staff

Columbia University Irving Medical Center offers the following guidance and resources to help our clinical staff respond to COVID-19. Our top priority is to provide the best possible care for our patients while ensuring the safety of our clinical staff who are on the front lines.

If you have questions about the screening or management of a patient, please contact Shunichi (Nick) Homma, MD, CMO ColumbiaDoctors, at sh23@cumc.columbia.edu. For all other questions, please email covid19questions@cumc.columbia.edu.

For information on the University's vaccine policies, please visit COVID-19 Vaccine Information For CUIMC Employees and Students. Please note that COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for all University students, faculty, and staff—this includes officers of instruction, officers of research, officers of the libraries, student officers, officers of administration, union and non-union support staff. Faculty and staff may register their compliance through the COVID-19 website or the ReopenCU app. Additional details about how to upload vaccine documentation can be found in these Vaccine Documentation Upload Instructions. For more information, please see FAQs Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination.

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Testing & Daily Attestations

Testing 

For information on testing eligibility, locations, scheduling, and process, please see COVID-19 Testing Process. The University has increased options to include weekly voluntary testing for those accessing campus regularly. For voluntary testing you simply select the “voluntary testing” option when scheduling online. Voluntary testing is currently available at the William Black Building (CUIMC) and Lerner Hall (Morningside) locations. 

Daily Attestations

All Columbia affiliates (students, faculty, and staff employees) returning to the medical center for any purpose or who are living in campus housing are required to complete daily COVID-19 symptom attestations to ensure safety and prevent the spread of the virus. You will be able to complete the self-check online or by using an app we created—ReopenCU. For more information, please see Symptom Self-Checking

Fall Term

Anyone who has not accessed campus since January 2021 is required to present themselves for a “gateway” test just prior to returning. Appointments can be made via the Columbia Health Online Patient Portal. Weekly mandatory testing of unvaccinated affiliates and random sampling drawn from all affiliates on campus will continue into the fall semester. Additional details are included in the COVID-19 Testing Program for Fall 2021 Plan.  

COVID-19 Tracking Portal

All CUIMC employees may report any COVID-like illness, symptoms, test results, or COVID-related absences online through a new COVID-19 Tracking PortalThe self-service portal is to be used to report a COVID-like illness and/or quarantine orders. Positive COVID-19 test results must still be reported to covidtesttrace@columbia.edu regardless of being reported in the new tracking portal.

What’s Changing?

  • CUIMC employees may use the COVID-19 Tracking Portal to report a COVID-related illness, symptoms, and to upload PCR test results for themselves or a household family member.
  • CUIMC employees who use the portal will receive email notifications from the COVID-19 Tracking Portal with instructions for self-isolation dates, and return to work instructions.

What’s Staying the Same?

  • Continue to use the CUReopen App to self-monitor COVID19 symptoms and related issues
  • Continue to alert covidtesttrace@columbia.edu in the event of a positive COVID19 test
  • Follow Columbia Contact Tracing Team’s instructions and University policy for guidance and next steps 
  • Notify your manager on your absence, work status and return to work dates.
  • The Workforce Health & Safety (WHS) Hotline 646-697-9470 is available to answer questions about protocols related to COVID-19. The Hotline is available from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.   
  • Continue to work with CU Leave Management on Red Pass clearance procedures.

Questions regarding the University policy related to absences can be directed to Leave Management at leavemanagement@columbia.edu. Any other questions can be directed to CUIMC HR at cumchr@cumc.columbia.edu.

COVID-19 Safety Training

It is required that everyone working on campus is to complete online COVID-19 safety training before returning to their workplace, or as soon as possible for essential personnel. Principal Investigators, supervisors, and departments are responsible for ensuring that their personnel (faculty, staff, and students) complete the required training. Everyone must complete the Columbia Community Health Compact as part of this training. The terms of the existing Compact are being amended in light of the University’s revised policies, including the vaccine mandate.

Screening, Testing, PPE, and Transmission Precautions

For up-to-date guidance and support documents, please see the COVID-19 Vaccination Resource Page on the NewYork-Presbyterian Infonet. If a patient comes in with suspected COVID-19 or a positive case, please enter the event in SafetyZone.

Screening, Testing, PPE, and Transmission Precautions

The following documents outline procedures related to COVID-19 and influenza screening, testing, and requirements for PPE and isolation precautions based on the latest CDC, NYC DOH/MH, and NYS DOH guidance for patients at any Columbia, NYP, or WCM facilities. For COVID-19 and INFLUENZA screening, testing, PPE, and transmission precautions, please see the following:

Transmission Precautions for Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19

For more information on testing in COVID patients and discontinuing precautions for COVID recovered patients, please see FAQs for COVID-19 Isolation Precautions and Duration of Infectivity (August 14) and Interim Guidance for Discontinuing Transmission-Based Precautions for Patients with Confirmed COVID-19 (April 19, 2021).

Patients who are pregnant or nursing

For additional guidance regarding suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients who are pregnant or nursing, please see Interim Guidelines for Suspect and Confirmed COVID-19 for Obstetrics (Antepartum, Labor & Delivery, Post-partum, and Ambulatory Care), Neonatal ICUs, and Well-Baby Nurseries (August 13)

Protecting Patients and Health Care Personnel

Universal Mask Use and Universal PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) by All Employees

Universal masking requirements in the workplace at NYP, Columbia, and Weill Cornell remain unchanged, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. CDC public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people ONLY apply outside of the workplace and do NOT apply to healthcare settings or to offsite work-related events. Healthcare personnel (HCP) are in close, frequent contact with immunocompromised and other vulnerable patients (or in contact with other HCP who are patient-facing) and therefore should be especially cautious in avoiding scenarios where transmission could occur. 

For frequently asked questions and answers describing the rationale for universal use of well-fitting masks by ALL employees, please see FAQs for Universal Mask Use and Universal PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) by All NYP Employees (May 27, 2021)

Use of Face Coverings and Personal Protective Equipment by NYP Patients and Visitors

As part of efforts to protect all patients, visitors, and health care personnel (HCP) from exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, NYP recommends the use of a surgical mask by all patients (regardless of COVID-19 result), visitors, and HCP at all inpatient and affiliated ambulatory locations. This is to reduce possible transmission from individuals who have mild or asymptomatic COVID-19. Exceptions can be made for adult or pediatric (e.g., < 2 years old) patients who cannot tolerate a face mask. NYP will provide a surgical mask to all patients, visitors, and HCP, when they enter any inpatient or affiliated ambulatory location as well as upon request. If a patient or visitor chooses to wear their own cloth face covering, a surgical mask should be worn in addition (i.e. double mask). Patients or visitors who are wearing their own respirator (e.g., KN95) do not also require a surgical mask, however, if the respirator has an exhalation valve it must be covered by a surgical mask. Bandanas and gaiters are not acceptable face coverings. For more information, please see Interim Guidelines for Use of Face Coverings and Personal Protective Equipment by NYP Patients and Visitors (February 10).

For a visual guide on how to properly adhere to COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines, see PPE Donning Guidelines for Direct Patient Care (February 10).

Testing Guidance for CUIMC Faculty and Staff

Cases of COVID-19 and community transmission continue to occur in the New York City area. All HCP are strongly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as vaccination remains the best way to prevent COVID-19 illness, prevent the emergence of variants, and end the pandemic. To minimize transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from HCP to patients, to other HCP, and to their family and friends, appropriate management of ill HCP, HCP who travel, and HCP with potential exposures to individuals with COVID-19 is critical to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to Access Testing 

Use NYP COVID Tracker or contact Workforce Health & Safety COVID Hotline (646-697-9470; M-F 7AM–5PM; weekend 7AM–1PM) to report illness and obtain instructions on testing, if indicated, and guidance on return to work.

Masks and PPE

The following documents outline procedures related to COVID-19 and influenza screening, testing, and requirements for PPE and isolation precautions based on the latest CDC, NYC DOH/MH, and NYS DOH guidance for patients at any Columbia, NYP, or WCM facilities. For COVID-19 and INFLUENZA screening, testing, PPE, and transmission precautions, please see the following:

All staff will be supplied with face masks and will be required to wear them whenever they are in direct contact with others. To request and pick up masks, contact the following:

Please note that while we do have a sufficient supply of surgical masks, all should preserve and reuse them until they are damaged, soiled or wet. Additional masks requests should be submitted to those listed above as needed.

Please see MAD (Mask-Associated Dermatitis) for helpful guidelines from the nursing quality and wound care teams for protection against mask-associated dermatitis and pressure injuries.

Free Virtual Urgent Care for CUIMC Employees

All CUIMC employees are now eligible for free virtual urgent care visits with CUIMC and Weill Cornell emergency department physicians via NYPOnDemand. The NYPOnDemand app can be downloaded by visiting the NewYork-Presbyterian website.   

What to do if You Have Symptoms

If you have symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills, loss of taste or smell), stay home

  • If your symptoms are mild, you do not need to seek medical care.

  • If you are a member of a higher risk group or your symptoms are severe, such as difficulty breathing, contact your primary care provider (PCP). 
  • If you are not a member of a higher risk group and your symptoms worsen after three or four days, contact your PCP. In about 80% of cases, symptoms resolve by themselves with supportive care (including rest, fluids, and taking fever reducing medications such as Tylenol or ibuprofen). Stay at home for at least ten days after your symptoms first start and at least three days after you no longer have a fever (without the need to use fever-reducing medications), whichever is longer. 

Contacting Workforce Health and Safety

All health care workers who were exposed to a patient or staff member under investigation or positive for COVID-19 in an NYP facility and who develop a fever, cough, or shortness of breath must call the Workforce Health and Safety (WHS) hotline: 7 days a week, 6:00 a.m.- 11:00 p.m., Phone: 646-697-9470.   

All health care workers who were contacted by DOH because of a confirmed community exposure or believe they may have exposed to someone outside of NYP with COVID-19 must call the Workforce Health and Safety hotline: 7 days a week, 6:00 a.m.- 11:00 p.m., Phone: 646-697-9470.   

A Workforce Health & Safety provider will contact the Department of Health as required on behalf of staff members and staff will be provided with instructions and guided through the process by WHS.

If you need immediate medical attention, please call your local ED, identify that you have had contact with a COVID-19 positive patient and they will ensure that you and all staff have proper personal protective equipment to prevent potential transmission.

If you test positive for COVID-19 at an outside provider or testing facility or you have been in close contact with a symptomatic and laboratory confirmed individual, immediately contact Workforce Health & Safety (646-697-9470). 

COVID-19 Tracking Portal

All CUIMC employees may report any COVID-like illness, symptoms, test results, or COVID-related absences online through a new COVID-19 Tracking Portal. The self-service portal is to be used to report a COVID-like illness and/or quarantine orders. Positive COVID-19 test results must still be reported to covidtesttrace@columbia.edu regardless of being reported in the new tracking portal.

An employee who follows an advised period of self-isolation should contact Workforce Health and Safety (646-697-9470) after the advised period of self-isolation and confirm their clearance to return to work and  CUHR Leave Management. 

Coping with Grief

It is important to know there are ways to cope with grief and to support those who are grieving for personal loss and loss of loved ones. Coping with Grief: A Resource Guide provides information and resources to help in the grieving process. For additional wellness resources, see CopeColumbia and Narrative Medicine below.

Transportation for Faculty and Staff

Beginning September 9, Columbia Transportation will provide commuter shuttle service for faculty and staff working on the Morningside, Manhattanville, and Medical Center campuses on weekdays during the Fall term.  

  • Service will begin on Wednesday, September 9.  
  • Routes are focused on key areas within the outer boroughs and Manhattan with easy connections to commuter rail and park-and-ride locations. Shuttles will run periodically throughout the day. A route map is available on the Transportation website.
  • Columbia University faculty and staff are eligible for this service.
  • The fare will be $4.50 each way, to be paid by credit or debit card at the time of reservation.
  • Rides on the commuter shuttles are by online reservation only. Spaces are first come, first served. To view a list of departure times and make a reservation, follow the instructions on the Transportation website.
  • You can view bus locations in real time using the Passio Go! app, which is free to download.
  • Buses will be capped at 50% capacity to facilitate distancing.  
  • Please familiarize yourself with the COVID-19 safety protocols before you ride. Passengers not wearing a face covering will not be allowed to board the bus. 
  • We will evaluate the usage of these shuttles for long-term service.  

Please consult the Transportation website for a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). During business hours, you can call Columbia Transportation at 212-854-3382 or email us at transportation@columbia.edu.  

In addition to the Commuter Shuttles, Columbia Transportation offers a number of travel options between Columbia’s campuses. This fall, the Intercampus Shuttle will be making stops at 96th Street throughout the day, and Saturday service will be available following the Red Line. Columbia also offers an on-demand Evening Shuttle, powered by Via, that runs between 4 PM and 4 AM each night. For those interested in using Via outside of the Evening Shuttle service, Columbia affiliates can use the code 'CU2020' to unlock 20% off all private rides.

Travel Guidelines

Fall 2021 Travel Policy

Please refer to the University guidance regarding international/domestic personal travel for faculty, staff: Fall 2021 Travel Restrictions

  • As of June 25, 2021, the New York State Travel Advisory is no longer in effect. As such, travelers arriving in New York are no longer required to submit traveler health forms. All travelers, domestic and international, should continue to follow all CDC travel requirements.
  • Domestic personal travel guidelines require that faculty, staff, and students need to follow guidance issued by the state or states to which you are traveling and upon return. 

CopeColumbia

The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented and uniquely trying time for our community, particularly for providers on the front lines.

In response, the Department of Psychiatry has partnered with ColumbiaDoctors and NewYork-Presbyterian in developing CopeColumbia, which provides information and resources for the CUIMC community, including counseling sessions, peer support groups, guided meditations, suggested reading, and other resources for managing stress, fear and anxiety.

To access these resources, please visit CopeColumbia. For any questions about CopeColumbia, or if you have any unmet needs, please email CopeColumbia@cumc.columbia.edu

Narrative Medicine

The Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics and its Division of Narrative Medicine is responding to CUIMC’s urgent needs for connection, stress-reduction, and remedy for isolation in the face COVID-19 and challenges to our health and safety. 

Narrative Medicine provides critical resources in response to the COVID crisis. Through Columbia Narrative Medicine, Columbia faculty, trainees, and staff can:

  • Sign up for a private, small-group seminar with those you work with (Naturally Occurring Work Groups, or NOW groups) to meet with a trained facilitator for regularly-occurring narrative sessions.
  • Join hour-long Zoom sessions with persons across the globe uniting for creative and reflective work. Through a blog discussion board, participants post their creative work and respond to one another’s postings.
  • Listen in to Creative Director novelist Nellie Hermann reading aloud a short story each day.
  • Join the NM Book Club
  • Use NM’s web resources of literary texts and visual images for reflection and solace and pleasure on your own time. We invite you to join us in all these projects at www.narrativemedicine.blog

We encourage you to write directly to Rita Charon, chair of Medical Humanities and Ethics, at rac5@columbia.edu with questions and requests.

Human Resources Policies

The COVID-19 pandemic has created fundamental changes in the workplace. Although we would prefer to go back to business as usual, some of the changes brought on by the crisis may become permanent and require long-term adjustment. Once you have returned to the workplace, CUIMC HR will continue to support and assist you with this transition. See COVID-19 Campus Safety for Employees and Students and Returning to the Workplace: A Resource Guide for resources that will help you with the transition back to work, such as workplace safety and benefits including child care. 

Campus Status

For the most up-to-date information regarding campus status, including closures, parking information, and campus operations, visit Facilities Management and Campus Services COVID-19 resources page. Information is updated frequently as the impact of the virus changes locally and nationally.

Recent updates, campus resources, and additional information are also available through at covid19.columbia.edu.

Additional Resources