UK HEALTHCARE COVID-19 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Updated: December 1, 2021

Patients/Public
Visitors
Screening & Testing
Staff
Workforce Readiness Plan
Benefits & Leave
Operations
Surge Plan
Providers/Referring Providers
COVID-19


Refer to the COVID-19 Vaccine Information page for FAQs specifically about vaccinations.

 

Patients/Public

Q: Are there visitation restrictions at UK HealthCare?
A: Yes, visitor restrictions and point of entry screening of visitors  are regularly updated.

Q: How are we screening patients who appear in our clinics?
A: All clinics entry points should ask patients and visitors the questions on the Patient Screening Form.

Q: Where are patients that have coronavirus being treated? What part of the hospital should I avoid?
A: Any patient diagnosed presumptive positive for COVID-19 will be in isolation and will not pose any risk to other patients or their families. The hospital is a safe environment of care.

Q: What should I do if I (or someone in my family) feel sick and believe it is COVID-19?
A: The symptoms of COVID-19, a common cold and influenza are similar.
Call your health care provider and discuss your symptoms. Stay home and self-isolate if possible. If you feel sick with fever, cough and have difficulty breathing AND you have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or have traveled to one of the high-risk areas, make sure your health care provider knows.

Q: What is expected of a person/patient sent home for home isolation?
A: The CDC’s webpage provide guidance on isolation based on a variety of situations.

Q: We are instructing patients to wear their own mask, and if they don’t we will give them one. What do we do if the patient refuses to wear a mask?
A: A mask must be worn to enter the premises.

If the patient is in a clinic or presents for an elective procedure, the patient may be rescheduled or the issue presented to the provider to determine whether the patient should be rescheduled. The provider may refuse to see the patient.

If an unmasked patient has made it past the screeners and is in the emergency department or admitted, their refusal to wear a mask should be escalated to the attending physician or provider to determine whether the patient should be discharged if medically stable or whether to continue to treat the patient.

  • If the patient is allowed to remain, the attending physician or provider will advise staff whether any extra precautions should be taken.
  • No visitor will be allowed to remain if the patient refuses to wear a mask.

Q: If a patient refuses to wear a mask, and the decision is made to continue to treat the patient, what precautions should staff take?
A: Staff interacting with all patients should still be wearing standard mask and eye protection regardless of COVID-19 status.

Q: If an asymptomatic patient tests positive for COVID-19, how long do you wait to repeat testing in order to ensure two negative results?
A: A provider may reorder a SARS CoV2 test at any time after a positive test, if they wish to confirm the results.  After the first negative, another test can be ordered after 24 hours. If a second negative test result is obtained, the patient is considered recovered.

Q:  Where can patients get COVID-19 information?
A: Please see UK HealthCare’s website for updated information for patients and the public.

For more information:

State COVID-19 Hotline: 1-800-722-5725 Updates: www.kycovid19.ky.gov

Lexington Coronavirus – COVID-19 Page: https://www.lexingtonky.gov/coronavirus-response

Q: What do I tell colleagues and friends that ask about patients with COVID-19?
A: Standard HIPAA Privacy Rules and UK HealthCare Privacy policies still apply to all UK HealthCare staff. Privacy staff monitor and audit medical record accesses on any affected patients. Additionally, our privacy staff monitor any reports of social media disclosures regarding patients. Providers and staff should continue to use good patient privacy practices during a time when there are patients of high media interest.

If you have any questions about what is permitted regarding patient privacy, you can call Corporate Compliance at 859-323-8002 or email Richard Chapman at Richard.chapman@uky.edu.

Q: What if a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19 leaves against medical advice?
A: We will report that to the Kentucky Department of Public Health.

Q: What if a patient who meets the clinical indications refuses COVID-19 testing?A: If a patient refuses testing, we cannot make them take the test. However, we will report them to KDPH.

Q: If we have high-risk (immunocompromised) patients who are COVID-positive, how do we get them scheduled for monoclonal antibody infusion?
A: Monoclonal antibody infusions orders are entered into EPIC by the patient’s primary care provider.

Visitors

Q:  What should be done if visitors are not truthful about their COVID status in order to see their family member?
A:  We have processes in place to screen each visitor and check their ID to ensure they are an approved visitor. We have to assume positive intent and trust that our visitors will be truthful.

Q:  What are the specific visitor restrictions for OB, ambulatory, etc.?
A:  Read the visitor policy.

Q:  If we have outpatient pediatric surgery, can both parents/legal guardians come back?
A:  Yes, One or two parents/legal guardians may accompany and stay with the patient for the length of the hospital stay.

Screening & Testing

Q: What is the process for Spanish-speaking visitors?
A: Each screening location is equipped with iPads that have language services apps that can be used to communicate with non-English speaking visitors.

Q: What is the process for a patient going to the Emergency Department?
A: Screen the patient and then direct and/or escort the patient and no more than one accompanying person to the main entrance of the Emergency Department.

Q: What should be done if the visitor fails to stop and by-passes the screening station?

A: Notify Security at 323-6156. State the location and a description of the visitor.

Q:  Why do we not temperature check visitors at the screenings or patients and visitors to clinics and off-site locations?
A:  We are not currently taking physical temperatures as the state guidance allows for subjective temperatures. We do require universal masking of all staff, patients and visitors.

Q:  Will visitors be turned away if they do not have a photo ID?
A:  We take a variety of forms of ID. If someone does not have an ID, the screening management team will work through those situations on a case-by-case basis.

Q:  Are appointments needed for COVID testing?
A: Yes. You need an appointment for all COVID-19 testing.

UK HealthCare’s patient and symptomatic employee testing at the Drive-Thru Clinic (2317 Alumni Park Plaza) and the state-sponsored testing for anyone at 1505 College Way require an appointment.  State-sponsored testing appointments can be scheduled here.

If symptomatic or referred by your provider, you can schedule an appointment at UK HealthCare’s Drive-Thru Clinic by filling out the drive-thru screening survey on the staff COVID-19 webpage. Then, you will need to wait for a call to set up your appointment.

The city of Lexington sponsors the Mayor’s Mobile Neighborhood Testing Program that provides walk-up and drive-thru COVID-19 testing across the city. This testing does not require an appointment and is available to anyone. Additional info for testing in Fayette County is available here. Testing sites in other Kentucky counties can be found here.

UK HealthCare employee surveillance testing protocol is available on the vaccination mandate toolkit webpage.

Staff

Q: What can I do if a colleague is not wearing a mask? What should I say?
A: First, assume the best in your colleague.  They may have forgotten to put it on, or not realized they would be around others.  Kind support from colleagues is one of the best ways to help establish new habits.  Here are some ideas on what you can say to support healthy behaviors on campus:

  • Don’t forget your mask!
  • Let’s make sure we follow the mask requirements. 
  • Remember, we must wear masks over our nose and mouth to prevent spreading COVID-19 and other germs.
  • Covering only the mouth does not offer full protection from infection.
  • Please wear a mask when you come to my office/cubicle.

Q: Why have masks been removed from public places?
A: In an effort to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE), boxes of masks for public use have been removed from public areas and are kept at screening locations or behind the nearest information, registration or nursing desk.  Patients and visitors are encouraged to wear their own masks to the hospital and clinic, but if they do not, they will be given one.

Masks are given at the public entrance screening stations. The Office of Patient Experience has signs that explain the missing masks.

Q: I have a low immune system, what documentation will I need to work from home?
A: If you have an immunocompromised system and are seeking accommodations due to concerns about possible exposure to COVID-19, you may contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity. You must fill out the ADA Accommodation Form and your provider will fill out the Medical Inquiry Form.

You may also find the forms at https://www.uky.edu/eeo/ada-compliance. Possible accommodations could be working from home, reassignment to an area in which exposure risk is reduced, or approved leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

If leave is the only reasonable accommodation available, you would utilize any accrued time for the preventive measures.

You may view control and prevention guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html. You should also talk with your health care provider for advice on any additional recommended precautions.

Q: Will UK HealthCare require employees to quarantine if they travel out of state?
A: Travel guidance for UK HealthCare faculty and staff is updated with the current guidelines for domestic and international travel.  See the latest update.

Q: What is the status of UK HealthCare volunteers?
A: UK HealthCare volunteers began a phased return on April 19, 2021. However, due to rising COVID-19 cases, starting Aug. 13, 2021, volunteers were not allowed on-site.

Q: Will we continue in-person classes and events such as orientation, residency, quarterly sessions, etc.?
A: UK HealthCare New Employee and Provider Orientations have been made available online to support social distancing when possible, along with the quarterly sessions.  Certain certification classes required as part of your competencies will still be required where they cannot be delivered virtually.  Precautions will be taken to find locations that allow for social distancing as much as possible.

Q: Do we have traveler contracts?
A: Traveler contracts have been reinstated in order to address current vacancies and increase acuity/volume of patients.

Q: Is there a plan to move employees to remote work wherever possible?
A: Even those who do not provide direct patient care are key to supporting our clinical teams and our patients. We must first ensure clinical operations can continue with minimal interruption to workflow. Within this context, UK HealthCare has provided guidance to leaders on making decisions regarding remote/flexible work options. Talk to your leader about your options.

Q: What is the current policy on remote work for non-clinical departments?
A: The current policy on remote work was posted August 2020. See Smart Restart: Guidance for Managers in Determining Work Locations.

Q: If I feel like working while in official quarantine, can I?
A: If an employee is quarantined by a physician or public health official and occupies a position that is conducive to remote work, the employee should speak with their manager regarding the possibility of working remotely while quarantined.

Q: My position requires on-site work, as determined by our management team. How can I ensure I am not contributing to our state/hospital community spread?
A: Follow the safety protocols: daily screening, good hand hygiene, physical distancing and wearing a mask at all times in shared spaces at work.

Q: Some employees are reporting feelings of isolation. What resources are available for employees experiencing isolation and loneliness?
A: UK Human Resources has developed resources and on-demand videos to help employees who are feeling lonely or disconnected. For additional help and support, employees are also encouraged to contact the Work+Life Connections employee counseling office or utilize LiveHealth online. The employee counseling office offers sessions at no cost to the employee; LiveHealth is also waiving co-pays for all telehealth visits.

Q: Can we have a policy to change work days? Longer days and add another day off?
A: Employees should work with their area manager to discuss any proposed changes to their current schedule. Per the remote work policy, the department manager shall establish a work schedule for each remote or hybrid employee that outlines when the employee needs to be available for meetings. Remote and hybrid workers should have some flexibility as to their work schedule. A flexible schedule may not work for every department or employee’s needs.

UK Human Resources and Employee Information
https://www.uky.edu/coronavirus/faqs

 

Workforce Readiness Plan

Q: If staff are deployed to other areas-will their work hours be the same? 

A: The UK HealthCare Mass Casualty Response Policy (Code Yellow) and the Plan B Staffing During University Emergencies Policy allow for staffing decisions necessary to support the disaster response.  This would be addressed on a case-by-case basis and would be driven by the need, which could be at varied times of the day and different shifts to maintain all necessary operations.

Q: How will this impact those employees with light-duty assignments?  Will they be replaced with redeployed personnel?

A: In a disaster response situation, UK HealthCare employees in light-duty assignments will continue unless there is insufficient work. If there is insufficient work, the employee should report back to the UK light duty coordinator at 859-218-3260.

Q: If a bedside nurse is pregnant, can they be reassigned to not take COVID patients? How can they be protected? 

A: While pregnancy is not a disability requiring accommodation, UK HealthCare leadership has determined that pregnant workers should not be assigned to take care of COVID-19 patients or patients under investigation (PUI) for COVID if possible. You will work with your manager to find a role for you.

Q: In a surge, do you foresee reallocating staff from non-clinical UK roles to bedside care if they have a clinical license?

A: Redeployment to a clinical role is a possibility.

Q: If you are a pediatric RN will you be “re-deployed” to adult areas or remain within job duties of KCH?

A: The decision to redeploy staff is based on census within the unit. During times of low census in Kentucky Children’s Hospital, you may be asked to redeploy to an adult unit to participate in a team nursing model of care.

Q: If you are an ambulatory RN who has not worked in a hospital environment for over 20 years, will there be deployment roles available for us that do not involve bedside care?

A: We have many roles that do not involve bedside care. If you are redeployed to bedside care, you will be in a company of providers and nurses and will train as a team. You will be given a role and sufficient training to be successful.

Q: Will exceptions be made for redeployment for employees who have small, documented immunocompromised children at home?

A: While having immunocompromised family members does not qualify as a condition for accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you may work with your direct supervisor related to any safety concerns and/or other work opportunities.

Q: Will employees with chronic medical conditions or advanced age be asked to care for COVID-19 patients?

A: If possible, UK HealthCare leadership will not assign those considered high-risk to take care of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 or under investigation as a COVID patient.

Q: If we are salaried and called back to the bedside, how will the pay be handled?

A: If an employee is redeployed to another position, the employee will continue to receive their current rate of pay and benefits. Shifts will be organized to enable sufficient rest for all direct care providers to the greatest degree possible. Overtime and shift differentials will not be paid to salaried employees. Salaried staff will not be paid more than their normal bi-weekly salary.

 

Benefits & Leave

Q: If an employee is sent home on quarantine by Infection Prevention and Control from an external exposure, does the absence count as unexcused if they cannot work from home?

  • If employee can work remotely, the employee should discuss with the manager specific arrangements to work remotely.
  • If the employee cannot work remotely, the employee should be paid for scheduled shifts using the Medical Removal Protection pay code in KRONOS.
  • If an employee falls under the UK HealthCare attendance policy, the absence(s) do not count towards the policy

Q: Will staff qualify for unemployment if they are quarantined at home and not being paid?

  • Please refer to the information posted under the FAQs on the COVID site, such as the Tip Sheet on Unemployment Insurance .
  • A supervisor does not have the authority to tell an employee they will get unemployment benefits.
  • A supervisor cannot tell an employee how much they will get in unemployment insurance benefits.
  • There may be unknown factors, such as previous employment, past state unemployment insurance overpayments to the employee, etc. For example, an employee may not have worked long enough to be eligible for unemployment insurance.

Q: If employees that have heart and lung issues cannot do their job at home but stay at home; will they be allowed to use sick time, vacation time, or be paid in another way?

If an employee cannot work at all, our HR Employee Relations team can help employees explore options for leave use. Please call them at (859) 257-8758. If you have an immunocompromised system and are seeking accommodations due to concerns about possible exposure to COVID-19, you may contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity.

Q: I heard that UK insured employees have an option for free, no pay telehealth.  What are the details?

A: UK-insured employees continue to have options for free, no co-pay telehealth. $0 co-pays began in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will now remain at $0 indefinitely. Options include using the LiveHealth Online website or app to connect with medical and mental health professionals, and connecting with UK HealthCare providers through UK TeleCare and UK Urgent Telecare.

Q: Can employees extend accrued leave that is subject to expire?

A: If it is impossible to take vacation leave that is subject to loss during the weeks before or after the EHR vacation freeze period, there are two options for staff depending on your employment designation:

Hourly (nonexempt) staff

  • If you and your manager agree you will not be able to take all of your vacation leave that is subject to loss prior to September 30, 2021, you have the option to get a payout of that leave balance. See policy A09-070.
  • Again, this is not because you prefer not to take leave, but because you cannot take leave due to staffing needs in your work unit.

Salaried (exempt) staff

  • In the case of salaried staff who do not have the payout option, we are responding to your feedback and extending the time period for taking your leave through June 29, 2022.

Q: Can staff use accrued vacation leave up until a Code Yellow is called, with the expectation they can be called in when we go into Code Yellow?

A: Currently, you would need to request vacation leave (for personal or professional reasons), which is subject to supervisor approval. During our Code Yellow Standby and eventual Code Yellow, no vacation leave will be approved. All critical personnel shall be available during this time.

Q: How should staff request vacation leave? 

A: Staff who want to take time off should follow the normal process of requesting vacation leave, which is subject to supervisor approval. If the vacation leave is approved, you may be called back to work if a Code Yellow Standby or Code Yellow is activated.

Q: Does the federal emergency Family Medical Leave Extension Act apply to UK HealthCare and Eastern State Hospital/Central Kentucky Recovery Center employees?

A: No, the regulation provides an exclusion for health care workers and first responders. All UK HealthCare employees (PA1500), including clinical providers/faculty and advanced practice providers and Eastern State Hospital/Central Kentucky Recovery Center employees are excluded.

Q: Are there child care options for UK HealthCare workers?

A: UK HealthCare’s goal during this state of emergency is to ensure continued health care operations and to support our team and their families. We understand that the care of your children is of the utmost importance and sensitivity. We are working closely with UK Human Resources to discover and/or create options for parents who will need some support while their children are not attending school.

View child care support for updated information.

Q: How will isolation be handled for faculty? Will they receive paid leave?

A: The Provost’s memo of November 2019 offers full-time faculty paid sick leave for documented illness or upon order of self-isolation or quarantine. Please see the Provost’s memo at A November 2019 memo from Provost David Blackwell.

Operations

Q:  Are we now allowing elective surgeries to be done on COVID-positive patients? If yes, will those patients be cohorted away from negative surgical patients?

A: If a patient is COVID+ and the procedure is not urgent or emergent, then the procedure is cancelled and rescheduled at least 14 days past the positive test date, or when the patient is released from isolation by their local health department. Providers do have the discretion to proceed with an urgent or emergent procedure based on the patient’s clinical condition if the patient is COVID+.  These procedures are performed in a COVID-designated procedure room.

Q:  How is UKHC ensuring patient protection from COVID?

A:  All staff and providers are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, screened for COVID symptoms each day and wear universal PPE. All patients are tested 72 to 96 hours prior to procedure and are screened for symptoms on the day of their procedure. Elective procedures will be cancelled if a patient tests COVID+.

Surge Plan

Q: At what point do we enact a Code Yellow? What does this entail? 
A: Executive leadership would first activate the Hospital Incident Command System to address the current situation. Incident Command would closely monitor and evaluate the status of COVID-19 cases and the impact on staffing. If our status was determined to be at a critical level, a Code Yellow would be enacted.

Q: In the plan, is there a point when we would reestablish the field hospital?

A: Not at this time. We will use the Regional Operations Center (ROC) to help us triage patients in and out of the hospital before numbers would escalate to a level where the field hospital would be implemented.

Q: At what patient number do services other than critical care and hospital medicine start to manage COVID-19 patients.

A: Patients who are admitted primarily for a problem other than COVID, for example a trauma patient, are being admitted to the primary service and units.

Q: What is your plan for redeployment of subspecialty fellows and faculty if the need arises?

A: Currently, we have no specific plan for redeployment of subspecialty fellows and faculty. However, if the need arises, subspecialty faculty and house staff may be asked to assist as needed.

Q: Does UK HealthCare have enough medical staff for a potential COVID-19 surge (as in, enough nurses for over 300 COVID patients)?

A: When numbers rise, human resources become more difficult. The more patients we have, the more medical personnel are stretched. That is why strategies like the Regional Operations Center (ROC) become so important to triage patients to appropriate hospitals and conserve UK resources for the sickest patients.

 

Providers/Referring Providers

Q: Are medical teams going back to virtual rounds or staying in-person?

A: The expectation is that COVID-19 positive patients receive the same standard of care with regard to timing and access to health care as all other patients.

Q: Do our COVID-19 surge plans take into account the patients we will get from Tennessee, West Virginia and small area hospitals? Will/can our “never refuse an ICU transfer” policy remain in place?

A: UK HealthCare temporarily suspended our auto-accept policy for internal medicine early on in the pandemic and always has that option, should the need arise.

Q: The current plan for admission of patients from outside hospitals is updated as follows:

  1. UK HealthCare admission criteria remains unchanged; patients should not be sent to UK HealthCare for COVID-19 testing unless they have medical needs that cannot be met at the outside hospital.
  2. Patients do not require hospitalization for COVID-19 symptoms nor for viral testing. If the patient’s symptoms are mild, the patient should be instructed to return home and call their primary care provider if their symptoms worsen.
  3. UK HealthCare is testing all inpatients except NICU babies.  If a parent is + then the NICU baby is tested.
COVID-19

Q: Which COVID-19 antibody test does UK use? Does it detect the spike protein? Will it detect vaccine response?

A: UK HealthCare currently uses the Abbott ARCHITECT SARS-CoV-2 IgG test, an immunoassay that detects antibodies directed to a recombinant SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid antigen.  It does not detect antibodies made in response to the spike protein after vaccination.  A positive result with this test indicates prior exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, not vaccination.

Q: Do we have statistics about reinfection rates and average length of immunity after testing positive for COVID-19? Can a patient get COVID-19 a second time?

A: The immune response following COVID-19 infection seems to last several months but it is not known how long it remains protective. The rate of reinfections in the short term following an infection is low. The risk of being reinfected is 80% lower in the first 6 months following an initial infection.

Q: What is RT-PCR and CT in regards to COVID-19?

  1. RT-PCR, or reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reactions, is a test we currently use at UK HealthCare. The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus in the sample. The number of amplification cycles is called the cycle threshold/ threshold cycle time, or CT. The use of CT in diagnosis is only one piece of data and should not be used alone for determination of a patient’s infectious risk.  CT also vary between instruments and testing platforms, so there is not a single number that can be used across all patients.
  2. As stated above, RT-PCR does not differentiate between the number of active, live viruses and pieces of dead virus.

Q: Can we start reporting the CT value of our PCR tests ALONG WITH the result to give us a better understanding the actual viral load of the patient?

A: The use of cycle times/ cycle thresholds in the diagnosis of COVID-19 are not currently the gold standard. This is simply one piece of information and varies depending upon the instrument being used.

Q: Why are patients being removed from isolation rooms 20 days after their admission? Are these patients still able to spread the virus?

A:

a. This practice is based on recommendations from the CDC that were released in August 2020. After several studies showed that patients with COVID did not have active virus present after 15 days. This evidence, in combination with decades of scientific research on viral replication, helped formulate the guideline. UK HealthCare made the decision to wait and look at the evidence in our own population and thus did not implement this change in isolation until November.

b. From the CDC’s data, UKHC made the decision to remove patients with severe illness out of isolation after 20 consecutive days since diagnosis. Patients without severe illness may be removed prior to 20 days by contacting IPAC.

c. While this does mean patients that are still admitted may be moved to another unit, staff are still required to follow PPE precautions (masks, gloves and eyewear) and will still have access to the full PPE required in COVID-19 patient rooms if they wish.

d. CDC data; https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/duration-isolation.html

Q: How does COVID-19 impact the body in such ways that they may no longer have COVID-19 but still have respiratory issues (such as ARDS)?

A: ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) is a global term not specific to COVID-19. ARDS can occur from influenza and many other nonviral causes. ARDS often occurs after people have recovered from viral infection and is not contagious.