First, I want to personally thank each of you for all that you are doing to care for our patients and our community at this critical time. As physicians, you are in the front lines of this pandemic. Your commitment to medicine, and to our patients, is one that cannot be understated. On behalf of MedStar Health, and all of our leadership, I want to personally recognize your commitment and contributions in these unprecedented times. Myself, along with the entire Academics/GME team, are here for you 24/7. Please let us know what we can do to assist you through this challenging time.
We are receiving many questions related to COVID and our training programs. As I gather questions from GME leaders and residents/fellows, I will distribute communication in an effort to keep everyone informed. Please feel free to forward any specific questions or issues to me as they arise.
System-Wide Communication and Updates:
Regular communication is being distributed by Stephen R.T. Evans, MD, executive vice president, Medical Affairs & chief medical officer, Susan Eckert, RN, MSN, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, and Loretta Young Walker, senior vice president and chief human resources officer, regarding updated protocols and practices in the clinical setting. Please note, all current communications and documents are available for download on the StarPort COVID resource page: https://starport.medstar.net/go/CoronavirusPreparedness
The following information is in response to questions that have been raised:
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL CONFERENCES
External Travel: MedStar Health is restricting all business travel at this time and until further notice. Most external conferences and specialty society meetings have been cancelled. If you had registered for an external meeting, please be sure to check the conference refund policy. If you have specific questions regarding incurred expenses, please contact Meghan Shaver (Meghan.L.Shaver@MedStar.net) in GME.
Internal meetings and conferences: Internal meetings are restricted to 50 or fewer people. Academic programs are urged to set up teleconferencing and web-based technology for conferences and other academic meetings. As this situation continues to evolve, we want your department to be prepared to conduct academic conferences solely through virtual connectivity.
MedStar Health Research Symposium: The annual research symposium scheduled for April 6, 2020 has been cancelled. We will notify you soon regarding how we will proceed with resident/fellow research submission awards.
International: Per my previous communication, you are urged to cancel and reschedule any personal travel outside of the United States. Please note that if you chose to travel, you may be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon your return, which will restrict your ability to return to work. In this situation, a 14-day quarantine is not a covered benefit. You would be required to use any available PTO or utilize an unpaid status. This 14-day quarantine may also require you to extend your training in order to meet board eligibility requirements. All personal international travel should be registered through my office (see below).
Domestic: You are strongly encouraged to limit domestic travel at this time. If you must travel outside of the DC-MD-VA region, you should also register your travel and contact information with my office. This information will allow us to communicate with each other in the event of a rapidly evolving situation.
COVID EXPOSURE AND TESTING
Please refer to the communication regarding the use of PPE. If a resident/fellow believes they have been directly exposed to a COVID positive patient, or if they are symptomatic, please report to Occupational Health for testing directions. Residents/fellows requiring quarantine due to clinical exposure will be paid for time in quarantine. Time away from the program may have an impact on extension of training – however – this will have to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis based on board eligibility or other requirements.
In the event that a resident/fellow tests positive for COVID due to clinical exposure, time off will be covered and compensated. Medical expenses should be covered by insurance. Please note – residents and fellows on J-1 visas – medical insurance is a requirement of your visa status, for both you and your dependents.
RESIDENT/FELLOW FURLOUGH OR QUARANTINE
Please report all furloughs and/or quarantine of residents/fellows to Jennifer Remington, AVP for GME (Jennifer.Remington@Medstar.net). This will assure GME has a real-time and accurate record of trainee statuses, and assurance that pay and benefits are properly accounted for.
Quarantine: If you are placed in quarantine, please be sure to follow the MedStar Health document for “Persons Under Investigation for COVID-19 – Home Care Instructions for Patients”. This document is located on Starport. In summary, quarantine means you should stay home except to get medical care, separate yourself from others in your home, and avoid sharing personal household items.
CARE AND EXPOSURE OF COVID PATIENTS The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that people with certain medical conditions may be at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. Associates and physicians who are immunocompromised or pregnant may be excused from caring for suspected or confirmed COVID patients. If you have a condition that may limit your exposure to this patient population, please contact Occupational Health for review. If you have questions you may also bring them to me or to your residency program director.
GME CLINICAL DUTY CONTINGENCY PLANS
Several departments have asked about implementing staffing models now that will allow for a rotation of residents/fellows into the hospital and also provide for back-up clinical coverage if required. Departments are urged to consider staffing plans for residents and fellows, and develop back-up call and coverage options now, in the likely event that we will experience high patient volumes and/or workplace staffing shortages. Think about who you would pull from various rotations and whether you would need to consider denying existing vacation/PTO requests. Program Directors: Please inform your trainees ahead of time of your surge plan and the potential that approved vacations may be affected.
A communication will be coming out today regarding benefits through Care.Com and the physician concierge programs. I will forward this when it is available. Please note:
Care@Work: MedStar’s Care@Work program provides free, unlimited referrals to care providers (physicians, Advanced Practice Clinicians, residents, and fellows) through Care.com. For urgent backup care needs, Care.com provides subsidized, vetted in-home care for children and adults. To help our providers manage the complexities of the current situation, the Care.com backup care benefit has been extended to 25 days, up from the normal 10 days of subsidized coverage. Sign up for Care.com and review their updated COVID-19-related screening policies at medstar.care.com. You will need to enroll using your MedStar email address to validate your employment at MedStar Health.
Residents/fellows with current military obligations (i.e., an active duty, reserve or inactive ready reserve commitment), should notify both their program director and contact Jennifer Remington at Jennifer.Remington@medstar.net ASAP. Again, this information will help us to plan for future staffing issues.
And, as a reminder:
All electives for MedStar trainees to go outside of MedStar Health that are not a requirement, (i.e. NOT listed in ACGME ADS), must be postponed until at least May 4. If your program is not ACGME accredited, rotations are limited to those that are required for graduation.
All ROTATIONS for outside trainees to come to MedStar Health are also restricted, unless they are integral to the program and designated by the ACGME or other accrediting body. Program Directors, please contact your ADIO for guidance regarding any outside trainees, as we will need to discuss on a case-by-case basis.
If you are hosting outside trainees, please be sure to communicate with the sending program’s program director to ensure that the learner has had appropriate FIT testing and training on PPE. Please also inform them of our policies if they are to become sick themselves.
Program Directors: Please contact your local ADIO for questions.
MEDICAL STUDENTS At this time, there is no change to Georgetown University School of Medicine rotations. If you have Georgetown students rotating on your service, please check with the clerkship director (or site director) regarding specific instructions. Students currently rotating at MedStar Health hospitals from other institutions may complete their rotations as scheduled. All other student rotations are temporarily suspended until at least May 4, 2020.
Questions specific to GME or Academic Affairs should be directed to me, and I will ensure all responses are coordinated via Dr. Evans. I can be reached by cell or text at 202-288-8665, or email at Jamie.S.Padmore@MedStar.net with a cc: to JSP35@Georgetown.edu.
Please email me directly to register your personal travel with GME. Please include the following information:
Your home hospital and department
Departure date and Return arrival date
Destination and locations of any and all airport stops and transfers
Cell phone and/or WhatsApp contact information
Email you will be using while traveling abroad
Thank you for accommodating these restrictions while we learn more about the COVID-19 virus and its impact on our community. More updates will follow as we have additional information.
Academics/GME Contact Information:
Jamie Padmore, DM
Vice President & Sr. Assoc. Dean