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Update April 6, 2020

The last month has certainly grabbed our attention with an unprecedented pandemic unlike any crisis our city, country, and the globe have encourtered in a century.  This virus has changed many of the routine ways we have functioned and continues to impact us and require us to adapt.  We want to emphasize our gratitude for each of our own colleagues who are tirelessly leading the battle against our common enemy to serve the citizens and patients in our community. 

On April 2, 2020, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee both issued mandatory executive orders requiring all individuals except for key essential workers to stay in and work from home, limiting travel to your immediate area for food, medications, and other supplies or to care for elderly or at risk individuals in the community.  Most businesses, schools, daycares, salons, and gyms are now closed (as of Saturday, April 4, 2020, 12:01 AM).   Essential businesses, including hospitals, restaurants for take out or delivery, groceries, pharmacies, etc. remain open and essential employees may report to duty.    

Administrative staff in the Deans Office have been primarily working remotely from home for the past few weeks with approval from the main UTHSC campus.  Department Chairs have the authority to make similar decisions regarding their UT-paid administrative staff.  We are all continuing to reply to emails, plan for incoming and graduating Residents and Fellows, and return phone calls to ensure smooth operations of our GME Programs.  In person conferences with more than 10 individuals are effectively suspended and many departments have transitioned to viritual, zoom or similar means of conferences and essential didactics and communication.  We are seeing lots of creativity and dedication from many programs and individuals. 

In light of your professional responsibilities as physicians in the face of the Stay at Home orders, each of the UT College of Medicine Chattanooga Residents and Fellows has been individually emailed a letter authorizing that he/she is an Essential Employee during this crisis and will continue to report for duty at the hosptal as asigned by the appropriate Program Director.  These letters were signed by Dr. Robert Fore, our Associate Dean and Designated Institutional Official responsible for our Graduate Medical Education Programs and were sent Friday and Saturday, April 3 and 4, by the Office of Graduate Medicla Education. We recommend that you save the letter to your phone or print a copy to keep with you as you travel back and forth to the hospital for duty. 

All elective Visiting Resident Rotations to the UT College of Medicine Chattanooga have been suspended until further notice as have elective external rotations for our own Residents and Fellows to clinical sites outside Chattanooga.  The only exceptions have been for ongoing, required rotations for UT Murfreesboro Residents rotating on PICU and Inpatient Pediatrics on our campus to meet accreditation requirements not otherwise available for those new programs. 

The Executive Dean for the UTHSC College of Medicine has suspended clinical medical student and PA student rotations at all statewide clinical campuses.  This was a decision at the recommendation of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).  All prior approved visiting student rotations have also been suspended until further notice. 

As of today, April 6, 2020, students have been assigned to one of a few online clinical courses for Block 4 — most are assigned to the "Crisis Medicine Course" that was developed specifically for this pandemic. Decisions have not yet been made for Block 5 which begins a new academic year on the first Monday of May. 

At the request of Dr. Ron Buchheit, Medical Director for EROC, Pre-Hospital and Disaster Medicine for Erlanger, daily Erlanger COVID Updates are being sent from him via the Office of Graduate Medical Education to all Residents and Fellows.  Similarly Medical Staff members are being sent these daily updates from Dr. Buchheit via the Erlanger Office of Medical Affairs. 

Our Assistant Dean for Well-Being and Medical Student Education, Dr. Mukta Panda, has said that, "We acknowledge that we are now facing an unprecedented challenge and that we have not witnessed anything of this magnitude in our lifetime.  Our work in medicine and the current threats to our families, our co-workers, and to ourselves often creates a heightened sense of anxiety and fear, which is a common human response.   

The UTHSC College of Medicine Deans and staff want 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 click here to view our Well-Being webpage. 

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

May 26, 2022