Updated: August 13, 2021
Refer to the COVID-19 Vaccine Information page for FAQs specifically about vaccinations.
Q: How are we screening patients who appear in our clinics?
A: All clinics and entry points should ask patients and visitors the questions on the IPAC COVID-19 Screening Process document.
Q: Are there risks to other patients and visitors who have been at UK HealthCare sites because of the confirmed cases?
A: Typically, a person would need to be within close contact (6 feet is the standard) of someone who has contracted the virus. UK HealthCare has standard precautions for control of all types of infections.
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.
If you are in the state of Kentucky, please call the state COVID-19 hotline for an evaluation of your symptoms and guidance for your next steps: 800-722-5725.
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.
Get expert care at home
UK HealthCare currently offers two ways to see a provider online so you don’t have to leave home.
- UK TeleCare is for your regularly scheduled primary and specialty care appointments. Individual clinics will be contacting you to transition your in-person visit to a TeleCare visit.
- UK Urgent TeleCare is available for sudden onset symptoms such as fever, cough, congestion, respiratory difficulties or sore throat. This is similar to visiting an urgent care clinic.
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: Our practice is to retest every four days until we get a negative result. 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.email@example.com.
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:Currently all patients who are tested for COVID-19 in the UKHC system are being screened and referred for infusion by IPAC. UKHC patients tested at an outside facility may access COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapy through referral from their UKHC physician. Outside patients may be referred through UKMDs at 859-257-5522.
Currently casirivimab/imdevimab is offered at UKHC. The product is provided at no cost from the manufacturer, so the only charge is for the chair time in the infusion suite.
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.
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: Other employers of high-risk occupations are requiring a lot more health monitoring for employees. Can you explain why we aren’t doing something like this with health care workers? Are there circumstances where we would increase screening and testing?
A: UK HealthCare requires daily screening of each employee for COVID symptoms. All staff are expected to wear appropriate PPE at all times – except when eating or drinking – and are expected to abide by social distancing practices to protect each other. We do have testing services in place for staff who are symptomatic or have traveled to a hot spot area.
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: I know employees at other hospitals are receiving regularly scheduled serial COVID tests/PCR screening. Does UK HealthCare have a plan to do so?
A: Not at this time. We believe our screening and universal PPE protocols provide necessary safeguards.
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, 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 UK’s Kroger Field both require an appointment for COVID-19 testing. Kroger Field 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.
The following four questions refer to the surveillance testing protocol:
Q: Why are we (UKHC) testing individuals and then sending them back into their work environment without a negative result?
A: We still expect all employees to screen for symptoms each day and follow all COVID-19 safety protocols including masking, social distancing and hand hygiene. We follow the CDC guidance for managing health care staff exposures. Testing considerations for health care facilities with an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 are described below.
- Expanded screening testing of asymptomatic health care professionals without known exposures is required in nursing homes and could be considered in other settings. It should be conducted as follows:
- Fully vaccinated health care professionals may be exempt from expanded screening testing.
- Guidance for expanded screening testing for nursing homes is described in the Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Spread in Nursing Homes | CDC.
Q: Why does group 2 require a negative test result but group 1 does not?
A: This group has the time to receive a negative test result before traveling to a UK HealthCare facility. Since they are not on site every day, they have the ability to plan ahead for a test.
Q: Why are unvaccinated individuals being tested and not the vaccinated when the vaccinated are more likely to be asymptomatic (and/or present with mild symptoms) and more likely to spread Covid-19 unknowingly?
A: It is true that we are seeing breakthrough infections in the vaccinated, however, transmission among the unvaccinated by far exceeds the rate of transmission among the vaccinated and once that transmission decreases, the rate of breakthrough infections will decrease further. As health care workers, we may have a skewed view because we know many anecdotal infections among the vaccinated. Balancing the risks, benefits and resources, the decision is to screen the unvaccinated.
Q: How long after the PCR test will we find out the results?
A: By the end of the next day.
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. Weston Klinksiek in 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: Can a temporary exception to the telework policy be approved for staff working remote with children home from school?
A: Yes. The same productivity expectations are in place and when responsibilities shift between work and care commitments, the expectation is that you’ll utilize Kronos appropriately with accurate clocking management to reflect personal/work obligations.
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: Should employees that worked from home in the beginning of the pandemic and came back on-site resume working from home?
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 manager or supervisor about your options. Some manager and supervisors have moved staff back on campus or to a hybrid model to ensure mission-critical work is completed.
Q: How is UK HealthCare following guidance to support remote work for employees in roles that can be performed remotely during periods of high community COVID incidence rates?
A: As a critical part of the community’s pandemic response, 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: 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
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: I have full-time work to do, why can’t people who are “working from home” staff screening positions?
A: Staff working from home may be redeployed if the volume of work in their unit indicates they may be more useful elsewhere. Staffing a screening location is one place that redeployed staff may be used.
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: Can nursing students who are employees and are getting ready to graduate be used in clinical settings?
A: We are investigating how best we may use those with clinical training during this pandemic. We will not ask you to work beyond your provisional license, skillset or training, but there are many support roles required for clinical settings. Most likely you will be part of our team nursing model of care with an assigned preceptor to provide support to you in your practice.
Q: What constitutes my refusal of work?
A: If you are being redeployed, you will be contacted with an assignment. If you refuse this assignment, you may be offered a second (different) assignment if one is available. If you refuse the second assignment, this constitutes refusing two redeployments.
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.
Q: What if Infection Prevention and Control decides an employee working with a COVID-positive employee/patient needs to be quarantined?
- If the employee can work from home, that is permissible.
- If IPAC determines an employee is positive for COVID-19 and was exposed at work, UK HealthCare will use a special COVID code, “Incident Command,” to pay for any shifts scheduled during the time of exposure. The manager will make this selection in Kronos. This will pay the employee their base hourly rate, no differentials. The employee should contact Worker’s Care to determine eligibility for worker’s compensation if they become positive.
- The absence is excused and does not count as an attendance occurrence.
- The employee can return to regular work after the quarantine period; however, that period is defined by IPAC, provided the team member is asymptomatic. The local health department or IPAC – whichever required the quarantine – will provide a quarantine release letter that identifies the length of the quarantine period.
Q: What actions should be taken if an employee who was sent home on quarantine due to an internal exposure to a COVID-positive employee/patient becomes COVID-positive also?
- Notify Infection Prevention and Control.
- For employees who have gone through IPAC and are determined to be positive for COVID and were exposed at work, UK HealthCare will use a special COVID code, “Incident Command,” to pay for any shifts scheduled during the time of exposure. The manager will make this selection in Kronos. This will pay the employee their base hourly rate, no differentials. The employee should also contact Worker’s Care to determine eligibility for worker’s compensation.
- The absence is excused and does not count as an attendance occurrence.
- The employee cannot return to work until they are released from quarantine by their local health department via a quarantine release letter.
Q: If an employee is COVID-positive from an external or undetermined source, is the absence considered unexcused?
- If Infection Prevention and Control determines the employee was not exposed at work, but was instead exposed externally, then the employee’s own leave time should be utilized.
- The absence is excused and does not count as an attendance occurrence.
- The employee should be sent a Family and Medical Leave Act notification letter. The normal FMLA protocol will be followed.
- The employee cannot return to work until they are released from quarantine by their local health department.
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 IPAC determines they were not exposed at work, but instead were exposed externally, then the employee’s own leave time should be utilized.
- If quarantined by their local health department, the absence is excused and does not count as an attendance occurrence.
- If an employee reports symptoms and is not quarantined by their local health department, the absence is unexcused and will count as an attendance occurrence.
- The employee can return to regular work after the quarantine period, the period of time defined by IPAC, provided the team member is asymptomatic.
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 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: I am a PRN employee with reduced or no worked hours. How is my UK health benefit plan impacted?
A: If you are currently on a UK benefit plan your benefits will continue for up to 90 calendar days or until you return to work. You will be direct billed for your portion of the health benefit premium if you have no worked hours in a pay period. For more information contact HR Benefits at 859-257-9519.
Q: I am a STEPS employee with reduced or no worked hours. How is my UK health benefit plan impacted?
A: If you’re still working a minimum of 30 hours per week, your UK benefits will continue until your hours have been officially modified to less than 30 hours/week or you are separated. Upon separation from UK:
- You’ll be offered COBRA
- If you’re a retiree working on a post-retirement appointment, you will be billed directly for your retiree health plan
- If you’re age 65 or older you may apply for Medicare
- If you’re under age 65 you could also explore Medicaid or pursue an individual plan in the marketplace.
You may apply for unemployment if you experience any loss of worked hours. For more information contact HR Benefits at (859) 257-9519 or the STEPS Office at 257-9561.
Q: Is there a plan for your PRN employees who have been working full-time for over year but don’t qualify for things like sick leave yet?
A: PRN employees do not accrue sick leave.
Q: Will the university still contribute to my retirement plan? Will I still need contribute?
A: Retirement contributions are based on a percentage of pay. If you use available leave, the contributions (yours and the university’s) would be based on the amount of paid leave you use. If you do not receive any pay, no contributions would be made.
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.
Q: I’m currently using the Employee Education Program or the Family Education Program. Can I continue to use those programs?
A: Yes. You still qualify for those programs. For more information contact the Employee Education Program and Family Education Program Coordinator at 257-8772.
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 20 days past the positive test date per CDC guidelines. 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, and the patient would be admitted to a COVID-designated unit.
Q: How is UKHC ensuring patient protection from COVID at the Center for Advanced Surgery with elective surgery?
A: All staff and providers screen 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+.
Q: Other institutions have eliminated elective surgery, under what circumstances would we do the same?
A: Given our mission to the commonwealth, it’s important for people to continue to access care at UK HealthCare. We are focused on maintaining a level of care for our patients, while also monitoring inpatient bed capacity and overall staffing continuously. If the state mandates we suspend elective procedures, we will do so.
Q: Are elective procedures at risk in the near future?
A: Our intent is to continue with elective procedures. We are monitoring inpatient bed capacity and overall staffing closely and are focused on maintaining a level of care for all of our patients.
Q: How can it be argued that closing ORs and reducing elective surgeries won’t improve capacity when the PACU is full of ICU nurses who could be rotated through?
A: Many of the procedures we perform are urgent. If we do not schedule those procedures, the same patients will show up in the ED requiring intervention.
Q: How can 10-100 ICU get the materials they need to provide patients with basic hygiene care?
A: Materials Management has increased supply/restocking frequency. They are now restocking PPE five times a day – and backfilling at least twice a day – what is out or below periodic automatic adjustment. Additional changes are being made this week to keep other emergent items restocked. Additional wall mounts have been ordered to increase the inventory on some frequently used supplies. The distribution manager is rounding daily there as well. Their rounding is being coordinated with the patient care managers.
Q: Why are we not testing our health care workers? We have the resources to test all students but those working closely with the virus haven’t been tested at all.
A: As health care professionals, employees are expected to screen for symptoms each day and mask at all times. Student testing is accomplished with outsourced resources. We need to keep our UK HealthCare supply and capacity for symptomatic staff and our patient processes. Free community testing is available nearby.
Q: Any plans to limit outpatient surgeries to select days of the week to open up inpatient beds?
A: Not at this time. The majority of outpatient surgeries do not require inpatient beds.
Q: Where are the patients who would typically be residing in 5 West?
A: By closing this unit, these patients will be absorbed in other locations.
Q: Where does research fall into this leveled plan?
A: The research unit (5 North) is not currently part of the surge plan. Research in general is governed by the dean and not UK HealthCare.
Q: Is Surge Level 2 equivalent to Code Yellow?
A: No, that is only the color for the next surge level. Code Yellow is a separate response and will be initiated as determined by Hospital Incident Command.
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: Is there a point in the surge plan where a Code Yellow would be activated?
A: Code Yellow is mentioned in the plan but will be activated by Hospital Incident Command as needed. There is no designated number of patients at this time.
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: There is no specific number as the plan is currently evolving based on our needs. Surgical and specialty staff could be asked to assist in caring for patients who are COVID-19 negative and would normally be admitted to medicine/pulmonary services as their resources are being focused on COVID-19 positive patients.
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.
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: As the third largest transfer center/hospital in the country, 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- UK HealthCare is testing all inpatients except NICU babies. If a parent is + then the NICU baby is tested.
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?
- 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.
- 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. 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 out of isolation after 20 consecutive days since diagnosis.
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.
Q: What does administrative no-pay mean?
A: Administrative no-pay status is a temporary unpaid leave. Employees placed into this leave remain employees of the university. However, employees do not work during this leave and as such will not receive pay for work hours. Employees on administrative no pay can be called back to work for a redeployment opportunity.
Q: How long will I be in a no-pay status?
A: The decision to place an employee in the no-pay status is based on how much work is available. Should the work situation change, you may be called back to work prior to the anticipated end date of your administrative no-pay status listed on your notification letter. Your supervisor will contact you if that happens.
Q: I know I can’t work while in administrative no-pay status, but can I still use my university email?
A: Yes. While you are in this unpaid leave, you should not respond to any work-related emails or calls. However, we know many employees use their work email addresses for many things that are important to them. We also would like to make sure you get university updates during this time. Turn on your out-of-office auto reply while on administrative no pay status.
Q: Is there anything I can do to keep getting paid?
A: Yes. Employees may choose to use available vacation, holiday or bonus day leave. You may also use the new well-being days (deducted from TDL sick leave bank). Employees in an administrative no-pay status will still continue to earn additional vacation and sick leave, just as they normally would.
Q: How can I find out how much leave I have available?
A: You can look in myUK employee self service to see your current balances. HR Employee Relations can also help you determine how much leave you have available if you’d prefer to talk to someone. The contact number for HR Employee Relations is 859-257-8758.
Q: Where can I obtain information about unemployment insurance?
A: Please go to Tip Sheet on Unemployment Insurance to see information on unemployment insurance. Keep in mind:
- 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, or a past fraudulent claim. For example, an employee may not have worked long enough to be eligible for unemployment insurance, so supervisors should not tell employees they are eligible.
Q: Is unemployment insurance impacted if I return to work while on administrative no-pay status?
A: You will need to report your hours worked to the Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance. The best website to learn more about reporting hours worked is http://www.kewes.ky.gov.
Q: Can I work a few days per week and be on administrative no-pay for the remainder of the week?
A: Salaried/exempt employees must be on administrative no-pay for a full week consecutively per Department of Labor guidelines. Hourly/non-exempt employees can have less than a full week on administrative no-pay.
Q: May employees apply for unemployment if they have reduced hours of work?
A: Yes, employees working at reduced hours may apply for unemployment.
Q: Are there other resources or help for me from a financial support perspective?
A: Yes. The HR unemployment site https://www.uky.edu/hr/hr-home/unemployment/about-unemployment-office includes the section Other Benefits for Families in Crisis.
Q: What if I want to drop some benefits for a while? Can I do that?
A: Yes. If you are considering ending any coverage, we strongly encourage you to contact HR Employee Benefits at 859-257-9519, option 3, to discuss your unique circumstances and needs so you can make an informed decision. If you end benefits during administrative no pay and want to begin benefits when you return to work, you can re-enroll in your plans when you move back into paid status effective your first day back to work.
Q: Are there other community resources I should know about?
A: Everyone’s circumstances are unique. Here are some resources to consider.
- The Division of Family Support administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). To access their web site, https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dcbs/dfs/Pages/default.aspx
- Kentucky Housing offers a program called the Kentucky Bridge program. It’s for homeowners who can’t make their mortgage payments. Call 502-564-7630, press 1, then extension 330 or access their site http://protectmykyhome.org/Pages/default.aspx
- Basic Needs Lexington has a comprehensive list of places offering food, housing, and financial assistance https://www.covid19lexington.org/basic-needs
Q: Are there resources to help me process this information?
A: Yes. Our team of counsellors with Work+Life Connections offer individual counselling. This is a free, confidential benefit that is always available to University employees. https://www.uky.edu/hr/work-life/counseling/worklife-connections-counseling
Q: How is my parking pass handled when I’m on administrative no-pay?
A: Payroll deduction for parking will be suspended without the employee having to turn in their permit. If you are in full administrative no-pay status in May, June or July, you will not be charged for the permit while on administrative no-pay status. When you return to work, notify Transportation Services to reinstate payroll deduction for your parking permit. See this link for more information.
Q: Can I be placed on administrative no-pay when I have an ADA accommodation?
A: An ADA accommodation should not be used as a factor when making operational decisions for a unit. With the current low census, the employee is reviewed by the same criteria as all other employees within the unit/department.
Q: What will happen to my benefits if I am in an administrative no pay status after refusing two redeployment job alternatives?
A: Your benefits will continue for 90 days, or when the administrative no pay status ends, whichever comes first. You will continue to receive the employer credit toward the cost of your health insurance and basic life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance plans.
The employee portion of your health, dental, vision, optional life insurance, dependent life insurance and flexible spending and health spending accounts will be billed to you directly. You may opt to have these premiums pulled from your checking or savings account.
Work refusal is reported to the Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance and may impact these benefits.
Joe moves to administrative no pay on May 12, which continues 90 days to August 11. Joe’s benefits coverage continues through August 31 if he pays the employee portion of the premium.
Q: Will a STEPS employee have to complete an I-9 and pre-employment screening in order to return to work?
A: Currently for the I-9, an individual can be separated for up to one year without having to complete a new I-9, assuming the individual is an American citizen. If the individual was separated for less than one year, a pre-employment screening will not be required.
Q: If UK HealthCare does not have work for everyone, how is it decided which employees get redeployed and which ones go into administrative no-pay status?
A: Your manager determines which employees require redeployment based on work required in the department, skill set and seniority/years of service. Seniority is based on the regular service date at UK.
Q: How can you rotate staff into administrative no-pay by seniority?
A: Least senior staff are rotated into administrative no-pay for a period first and most senior staff rotated into administrative no-pay last. All staff need to be planned to be on administrative no-pay for equal periods of time.
Q: When volumes increase, will all employees need to be called back at the same time?
A: Employees should be called back based on the operational needs of the unit. All employees do not need to be called back simultaneously but they do need to be called back based on seniority. The most senior people on administrative no-pay will need to be called back first based on the skill sets needed to fulfill operation need.
Q: Prior to April 8, 2020, if I received administrative no pay due to low census, do I get paid for those hours?
A: No, the commitment to full base pay for hours worked extends from April 8 to April 25, 2020 for regular staff. After April 8, 2020 call off due to low census still applies as per standard operations for direct care providers.
Q: How are my UK health benefits impacted while I’m on administrative no-pay status?
A: Up to 90 calendar days from the beginning of administrative no-pay status, UK will pay the employee and employer portion of the health insurance premium. During this period, UK is paying the total cost for medical insurance (UK portion + employee portion), with some important caveats:
- Salaried/exempt employees must be on administrative no-pay for minimum of a full week consecutively per Department of Labor guidelines.
- You must be on administrative no-pay for the entire pay period. You cannot receive any pay during the pay period if you want UK to pay your portion of the health insurance benefit. This means you cannot use any holidays, bonus days, well-being days, or vacation leave during the pay period.
- The 90 calendar day period begins with the first hour of administrative no-pay, and is continuous from that point regardless of leave used or work rotation.
Example: The diagram below shows how the UK health insurance benefit would be paid for an employee with the UK PPO single plan (employee portion is $16.50 per pay period), rotating two weeks on administrative no-pay and two weeks working full time (or using any type of paid leave):
Benefits such as dental, vision, optional life insurance, dependent life insurance and flexible spending and health spending accounts will be billed to your UK email address. Voluntary benefits such as Cancer Specified Disease, MetLaw Legal Services, auto and home, Universal Life, and others will be billed directly to your home address from the vendor, and you will need to continue to make a timely payment in order to continue your benefit. If your payment is not received within 30 days of the payment due date, your plan will be canceled. You can call MPM Group at 859-223-4973.
Q: What will happen to my voluntary benefits (legal services, universal life insurance, short-term disability insurance, cancer/specified disease, accident, auto/home, pet insurance) if I am in an administrative no pay status?
A: You may continue your voluntary benefits. All voluntary benefits will be directly billed to your home address from MPM Group, and you will need to continue to make a timely payment in order to continue your benefit. If your payment is not received within 30 days of the payment due date, your plan will be canceled. You can call MPM Group at 859-223-4973.
Q: What about my other employee benefits like dental and vision insurance?
A: If you are enrolled in additional voluntary benefits such as dental, vision, or other, you will still be responsible for making those payments. You can see how much those payments are by looking at a recent pay stub in myUK employee self-service on your recent pay statement. HR Employee Benefits can also help you understand those costs and help you make a plan on how to pay them, should you want to continue to have them. HR Benefits can be reached at 859-257-9519, option 3.
Q: If I am moved to an administrative no pay status, can I end benefit plans?
A: Yes, you may end your health, dental or vision coverage due to a no pay status and re-enroll during open enrollment. You may reduce or end your optional life insurance and dependent or spouse life insurance, but increasing or re-enrolling in this coverage may be subject to completing medical evidence of insurability information. This information is required and approved by the life insurance carrier.
You may end your health, dental or vision coverage due to a no pay status and re-enroll during open enrollment. You may reduce or end your optional life insurance and dependent or spouse life insurance, but increasing or re-enrolling in this coverage may be subject to completing medical evidence of insurability information. This information is required and approved by the life insurance carrier.
Q: Do I have to use my vacation leave before going onto administrative no-pay status?
A: You don’t have to use accrued vacation leave before going onto administrative no-pay status. However, please keep in mind:
- Accrued holidays, bonus days and wellbeing days cannot be extended beyond June 30. If you don’t use these days you will lose them July 1.
- If you have any vacation leave expiring on June 30, you need to use this leave prior to July 1.
- Employees on administrative no-pay will still receive the holidays. If you are faced with an administrative no-pay situation, you should at a minimum, use any holiday balances remaining by June 30 to ensure they do not expire.
Q: Can I apply for unemployment if I choose not to use my vacation leave and just go straight to administrative no-pay?
A: Yes, you may apply for unemployment if you’ve experienced any reduction in worked hours.
Q: I’m retiring soon and I’m designated for administrative no-pay status. Will my retirement be impacted in any way?
A: Being on administrative no-pay status will not impact your eligibility to retire. Contact a retirement officer in HR Benefits at 859-257-9519, option 3 to get more information about the impact on your retirement contributions.
Q: What happens if I’m on Family Medical Leave (FML) at the beginning of or during administrative no-pay status?
A: You would begin by using accrued sick leave and then move into accrued holiday leave, bonus days, and vacation leave. After the employee returns to work from FML, administrative no-pay could be considered.