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. Full vaccination is to be completed as soon as possible, but no later than September 1, 2021. For more information, please see FAQs Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination.

April 2 Update on Exposure and Travel

To All NYP staff and Columbia and Cornell health care personnel (HCP):

On April 1, 2021, the New York State Department of Health updated its COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements for HCP who have traveled or who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Effective immediately, the following changes will take effect at NYP, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Please note: the COVID Tracker and COVID Pass are being updated accordingly and will reflect these changes by early next week.

DOMESTIC TRAVEL

  • Asymptomatic HCP will NO LONGER be required to undergo TESTING (OR QUARANTINE) AFTER DOMESTIC TRAVEL (i.e., travel to any state or U.S. territory). All travelers are still required to complete the NYS Traveler Form upon return.
    • Note: There is NO CHANGE to international travel quarantine and testing requirements (i.e., all travelers, including HCP, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, must quarantine for 7 days after arrival in the US with a negative SARS-CoV-2 test on day 3-5 after return). While CDC has updated their international travel guidance for fully vaccinated people as of April 2, 2021, NYSDOH currently still requires international travel quarantine as above.

EXPOSURE TO COVID-19

  • The definition of “FULLY VACCINATED” has changed.
    • “Fully vaccinated” is now defined as 2 weeks or more* after receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or 2 weeks or more after receiving one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.
      • *The previous definition limited “fully vaccinated” status to individuals who were within 3 months of their last vaccine dose. This time-limited restriction to “fully vaccinated” status has been eliminated.
    • Fully vaccinated HCP do NOT need to quarantine after a community or healthcare exposure to someone with COVID-19 if they meet all of the following:
      • Are 2 weeks or longer after receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or 2 weeks or longer after receiving one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine
      • Remain asymptomatic
    • Testing for SARS-CoV-2 after exposure is NO LONGER required for fully vaccinated HCP but will be made available upon request.
    • The requirement for unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated HCP to quarantine for 10 days after a community or health care exposure to someone with COVID-19 has NOT changed.
    • HCP, even if vaccinated, must continue to report community exposures to Workforce Health & Safety and health care/occupational exposures to Infection Prevention & Control.

Please see Guidance for HCP with Illness, Travel, or Exposure for more information.

Please note that CDC public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people do NOT apply to health care settings. Therefore, ALL HCP, INCLUDING VACCINATED HCP, MUST continue to universally mask while around others and socially distance greater than 6 feet from others when eating and drinking while in the workplace.

Changes regarding quarantine for patients and visitors will be forthcoming early next week.

Please carefully review this information. This information is important to keep staff and patients safe during the COVID-19 response.
 

Laura L. Forese, MD

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Testing & Daily Attestations

For information on testing eligibility, locations, scheduling, and process, please see COVID-19 Testing Process

All members of the Columbia community are expected to monitor their health daily before coming to campus or leaving their residence hall room. All affiliates must attest to being free of any COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering campus each day. For more information, please see Symptom Self-Checking

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. 

COVID-19 Tracking Portal

Effective April 16, 2021, 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

As the ramp-up continues, an important requirement for 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 will complete the Columbia Community Health Compact as part of this training.

Screening, Testing, PPE, and Transmission Precautions

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:

For additional information and 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.

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 with severe respiratory illnesses

Patients who did not have contact with COVID-19 patients but require hospitalization for severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia or acute respiratory distress should also be tested for COVID-19.

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.

Please see COVID-19 Interim Guidance for Ill Health Care Personnel (HCP), Exposure Investigations in Health Care Settings, and Return from Travel (April 14) for information on what HCP should do following exposure. The April 14th guidance addresses guidance for both vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare professionals.

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.

Serologic Testing

Serologic (blood) testing for antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, is available for all Columbia, NYP, and Weill Cornell health care personnel (HCP) who would like to be tested. Previously, testing was offered only to HCP who were symptom-free for more than 14 days after a confirmed positive COVID-19 test or after a COVID-19-like illness.

The serology test is being offered to help HCP understand if they were infected by SARS-CoV-2 but may or may not have had symptoms. Additionally, testing will also contribute to the medical community’s overall knowledge of COVID-19.

If HCP have had recent symptoms, we recommend waiting at least 14 days after symptoms have subsided to be tested, because it can take three to four weeks after symptoms start for the body to make antibodies. Serologic testing is not recommended for HCP currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills (with repeated shaking), headache, muscle or body aches, diarrhea, or new loss of taste or smell. HCP with symptoms should get the PCR/nasopharyngeal (nose) swab test being offered at NYP testing sites.

How to Access the Serologic Test

HCP who would like to be tested should call the Workforce Health and Safety COVID hotline at 646-697-9470 to arrange an appointment for testing; no virtual visit will be required before serology testing. Tests will be available only by appointment through the Workforce Health and Safety Hotline, and appointment slots are subject to availability at each NYP location. At this time, serologic testing for symptom-free HCP will be available only once.

When scheduling an appointment, it is important for HCP to indicate that they are requesting serologic testing for employees. As always, HCP presenting to testing sites for their appointment should practice social distancing and wear a protective mask. Generally, results will be available within three to five days but may take longer depending on testing capacity.

Please note a positive serology test does not mean that a person is immune and protected from getting re-infected with SARS-CoV-2. We still have much to learn about how long antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 can be found in the blood after infection.

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

Effective April 16, 2021, 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

University Travel Policies

To reduce further spread of COVID-19, Columbia University continues to have travel restrictions.  Affiliates should follow all local, state, and federal travel restrictions, and should consult with CDC guidance.  

Columbia faculty, staff, and students are required to follow local, state, and federal travel restrictions, and should consult with CDC guidance. Read about the Updated New York State Travel Guidance to learn more about how travel to and from New York will affect testing and quarantine requirements.

Requirements for Healthcare Personnel 

Please see COVID-19 Interim Guidance for Ill Health Care Personnel (HCP), Exposure Investigations in Health Care Settings, and Return from Travel (April 14) for more information.

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

For up-to-date human resources information and resources, see this document covering Frequently Asked HR Questions Regarding COVID-19, which builds on pertinent Columbia University Human Resources policies and will generally pertain to all full-time and part-time employees (Faculty and Staff – Officers and Support Staff). Other employee groups will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. For unionized employees, please contact Labor Relations for additional guidance.

Updates will be provided as needed.

Return to Work

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 Returning to the Workplace: A Resource Guide (April 27) for resources that will help you with the transition back to work, such as workplace safety and benefits including child care. 

Essential Personnel

During an emergency, Essential Personnel provide services that relate directly to the health, safety, and welfare of the University, ensure continuity of key operations, and maintain and protect University properties.

  1. Each School and Department is responsible for final determinations as to which of its personnel are Essential. Essential Personnel are generally defined as the Faculty and Staff who are required to report to their designated work location, to ensure the operation of essential functions or departments during an emergency or when the University has suspended operations.

  2. There are some individuals who may be required to perform essential services remotely and those individuals will be identified in advance and notified by their managers.
  3. If unable to report to work, appropriate leave time—Vacation or Personal Days—must be taken. If leave time is not available, pay is not provided. Exceptions to this guidance must be approved by the Senior Business Officer (SBO) of the School or Department.
  4. Essential Personnel are expected to work in emergency situations unless they are specifically excused by their departments.  Failure to report to work as directed may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Telecommuting and Alternate Work Schedules

CUIMC is committed to maintaining its mission of patient care, research and education during this time of uncertainty. As with all health care and research institutions, much of our work must be performed on-site by our dedicated faculty and staff.

For the most up-to-date information regarding telecommuting accommodations for clinical, non-clinical, and research faculty and staff, please see CUIMC’s Remote Work Guidelines and Tips.

Self-Isolation Guidance

If you’re unsure whether you need to self-isolate, see this resource. If you have confirmed the need to self-isolate, see How to Self-Isolate

Please visit Columbia University's webpage for coronavirus information and up-to-date guidelines.

Hiring Freeze

Effective March 24, Columbia University instituted a hiring freeze for the remainder of FY2020, and we expect the freeze may be extended in FY2021.

Effective immediately all academic and administrative hiring across all schools and departments at CUIMC will require that a proposal from the hiring unit (department, center, or institute) first be endorsed in writing by the director of that unit, then be endorsed by the school’s dean, and then be forwarded to CUIMC for central review.

Central review will be required for new positions and before filling existing vacant positions, unless the exceptions from central review outlined below apply. In addition, promotions and position upgrades that result in an increase in salary for officers of administration and support staff must follow this new process.

Exceptions for Central Review to be reviewed by CUIMC

  • Re-filling of roles deemed by the school to be essential onsite employees
  • CUIMC hires deemed essential for its clinical mission
  • Accepted, written offers prior to March 24, 2020
  • Temporary workers approved by the school, institute or administrative unit and contracted for under two months duration
  • Casual workers approved by the school institute, or administrative unit

Only requests that are approved by this process and by the Office of the Chief Executive of CUIMC will be forwarded to the central university for consideration. Click here to access the form.

NOTE: THIS GUIDANCE MAY BE MODIFIED AS CIRCUMSTANCES RELATING TO COVID-19 CHANGE

Reference

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 the University’s COVID-19 Guidance for the Columbia Community.

NYP Coronavirus Daily Briefing

Dr. Forese and members of leadership share up-to-date information about NYP's response to COVID-19, our care for patients, and commitment to the safety of our workforce across NewYork-Presbyterian, ColumbiaDoctors, and Weill Cornell Medicine.

Watch the videos (login required)

Additional Resources