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COVID-19 Information Update

COVID-19 Updates as of May 4, 2020 for The University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine Chattanooga. We honor our health care workers, physicians, and all in our community who serve every day to provide vital services to others!

Click here for a link to the May 4, 2020, press release regarding our community response from the Hamilton County Health Department. The press release details the county's efforts for a measured and staged re-opening, continuing to encourage our citizens to remain vigalent in wearing protective face coverings when having to go out in public, maintain social distancing, avoid social groups of more than 10, and continue washing hands and using sanitizer and disinfectant wipes as possible.

Erlanger and our community are thankful that the number of COVID patients and COVID-related deaths are must lower than had been initially projected.  Everyone has worked together with the goal of slowing the spread of the virus and ensuring the hospital's ability to treat patients safely and to protect our healthcare providers with necessary supplies and PPE. Efforts have included:

  • We are planning a zoom type Resident Town Hall, Thursday, May 21, 4:00 - 5:00 pm with Erlanger and University leadership available for comments and questions.
  • Erlanger has implemented a daily online reporting of physical symptoms before any employee, allied health provider, or physician (including Residents and Fellows) begins each shift at the hospital (effective May 1, 2020).
  • The UT College of Medicine Chattanooga campus is beginning a phased return of administrative staff to the Deans Offices while permitting staff to work remotely when not able to be in the office. Department Chairs have authority over the phased return of their respective departments and staff.
  • Erlanger and the University have permitting non-clinical yet essential staff to work remotely when possible rather than being in the hospital.
  • Erlanger suspended elective procedures and surgeries for a period of time (although Erlanger has begun a phased scheduling of elective procedures and surgeries as of May 1, 2020).
  • The University suspended clinical rotations for Medical Students and PA Students on all statewide campuses in March. A decision about students returning to clinical assignments on June 1 is under consideration and we hope to have a decision by May 15.
  • The University has also suspended domestic and international travel for its employees, including physicians, Residents and Fellows.
  • Erlanger has suspended travel of its employees and healthcare providers including Medical Staff Physicians, Residents/Fellows, and Allied Health Professionals outside Hamilton County until further notice.
  • Erlanger has provided PPE to clinical staff including Residents and Fellows with guidelines for distribution and conserving resources.
  • Most of our programs have transitioned to zoom didactics, grand rounds, and educational conferences, as well as key meetings with Residents and Faculty to disseminate information and listen to issues and creative solutions for problems that arise. We expect this will continue for some time, particularly until the maximum of 10 people in meetings is still in place.
  • Erlanger has limited meetings to no more than 10 individuals in each room, and requiring everyone to practice social distancing (6 ft.) as much as possible.
  • Erlanger has implemented a no visitors policy until further notice.
  • Erlanger has restricted exterior access to the hospital to limited entrances that are monitored by staff.
  • As the Sponsoring Institution for GME within Erlanger, the UT College of Medicine Chattanooga submitted a Pandemic Stage 3 Emergency Declaration to the ACGME, enabling our faculty and trainees to focus most efforts on clinical care during this time and measured emergency schedules to permit appropriate resting times between duty assignments while still meeting the four key ACGME requirements. The current declaration expires May 24, 2020, but could be extended if necessary. Each individual program has been able to create and conduct its own clinical work schedule. Most programs are transitioning back to more normal schedules as of next week. Adaptability is key during this difficulty time, and we are proud of how smoothly and selflessly our faculty and trainees have risen to the challenge.

In a UTHSC communication dated April 29, 2020, the Chancellor stated, "Following the CDC's recommendation to wear masks or face coverings in public settings, all essential UTHSC employees working on campus and UTHSC employees or students who come to campus for any reason are REQUIRED to wear face protective gear. Per the CDC, cloth face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face be secured with ties or ear loopsinclude multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

If you do not own a mask, the CDC's website provides sew and no-sew instructions on how to make a mask. Thank you in advance for wearing a mask or face covering, constantly washing your hands or using hand sanitizer, and continuing to practice social distance when around other people!"

The UTHSC College of Medicine Chattanooga deans and staff want to continue to reassure you that we are in this together. We will rally as a community around our commonUnity to ensure efficient clinical care, society responsibility, and education. We are all committed to these missions. In addition, we will also care for our colleagues and ourselves. Sometimes stress and anxiety can creep up on us. It can be hard to recognize that we're stressed and anxious, and soon we start to feel overwhelmed."

Please remember that there are multiple resources available from the UTHSC and UTCOM Chattanooga benefit structure that can be as simple as a telephone consultation with a mental health specialist or a series of telehealth consultations through NexGen or the resources with LifeBridge, coordinated through the Chattanooga Hamilton County Medical Society. Click on this hyperlink to view a flyer with contact information for all our Well-Being Resources.

For additional information about our well-being initiatives, please view our Well-Being webpage.

Please take care of yourselves and each other as you tirelessly care for your patients and our community.

Last Published: Aug 21, 2020