A senior woman talks to her doctor about some recent struggles she is going through.

COVID-19 Information for Patients


As New York continues reopening, CUIMC and our outpatient practices are open to provide care for all patients. We are taking important steps to ensure our patients’ safety and wellbeing as they return for medical care. Please visit ColumbiaDoctors for more information. 

Seeking Non-Covid Medical Care

CUIMC and our outpatient practices are open to provide care for all patients. We are taking every precaution to ensure our patients’ safety and wellbeing as they return for medical care which may have been delayed, cancelled, or rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit ColumbiaDoctors for more information.

Seeking Medical Care for COVID-19

If you have symptoms, have been in close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, and have any other factors that relate to COVID risk (e.g. advanced age, COPD, cardiac disease, cancer, or an immunocompromising condition), call your primary care provider or visit the emergency room if you do not have a primary care provider. Your provider will determine if you need COVID-19 testing.

Before you go to the doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and let them know of your recent travel, symptoms, and any other factors that relate to COVID risk (age, COPD, cardiac disease, cancer, or immunocompromising condition).

Wear a mask if you need to leave your home. Please note that in New York State everyone is required (age 2+) to wear a face covering when outside their home if unable to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. As part of efforts to protect all patients, visitors, and our staff members from COVID-19 and other illnesses, all of our staff members in our practices wear a face mask while providing care to our patients, and we will provide face coverings to our patients as well. For more information, please see this Notice to Patients Concerning Face Coverings (June 12).  

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has additional information for specific groups, including pregnant women and children.

COVID-19 Prevention

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC and other public health experts recommend everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Above all, practice proper social distancing. That means avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people; suspending discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits; and engaging in work, school, and other activities from home wherever possible.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public.
  • Stay home, especially when you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with others. Maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others when in public.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

COVID-19 Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills, and/or loss of taste or smell. These symptoms may be similar to the flu or the common cold. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia and other complications, especially in older individuals and those with underlying health conditions.

Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure. For more on signs and symptoms, see this reference guide by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Visitor Policy

The health and safety of our patients, doctors, and staff are a top priority at Columbia. In response to the spread of COVID-19 and in line with the latest guidance from the New York State Department of Health, we are temporarily revising our visitor policy. Please review the NYP General Visitation Guidelines for more information, including specific guidance for inpatient locations and the emergency department. 

  • Visitors must be 18 years old or older, except in special circumstances.
  • Visitors must undergo temperature and symptom screening upon arrival, perform hand hygiene and wear appropriate personal protective equipment at all times. Please be especially attentive to wearing a mask over your nose and mouth, in addition to correctly wearing other personal protective equipment as directed by Hospital staff.
  • Visitors who are sick will not be permitted to enter the Hospital; this is without exception.
  • Visitors must remain at the patient’s bedside throughout the visit unless directed by the clinical team.
  • Visitors must remain at the patient’s bedside throughout the visit unless directed by the clinical team.
  • Temporary visitation may be granted for patients in extenuating circumstances, such as imminent end-of-life and/or a specific patient needing extra support. For example, specific patients needing extra support include those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities or other cognitive impairments.
  • If a visitor does not pass the screening process or does not follow hospital protocols, they will not be allowed to visit. In this case, a different visitor may be selected.

Any visitor who is coughing or shows other signs of illness will be kindly asked to exit the practice.

We encourage patients to keep in contact with their loved ones through Skype, FaceTime, and/or phone during their visits, and we will help you do that.

Resources for Discharged COVID-19 Patients and Caregivers

If a health care provider has determined that you or somebody in your care can be isolated and monitored at home after testing positive, please follow these abridged Discharge Instructions for Patients with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19 until the provider says that you or the person you are caring for can return to normal activities. Consider printing these instructions and placing them somewhere visible for your quick reference.

If you have questions, please see our more detailed Discharge Instructions – Patients with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19  and Caregiver Instructions for Respiratory Illness.

Additional Resources