Meeting the challenges of COVID-19

March 20, 2020

In an effort to keep our community informed about measures we are taking to limit the transmission of COVID-19, University Health System will provide regular updates on our ongoing response to this unprecedented situation.

The practices we are implementing reflect our highest priority, which is the health and safety of our staff, patients and the community. To that end, here’s the latest:

Patient Visitation: Beginning Saturday, March 21, University Hospital has joined all areas hospitals in severely limiting visitors. Until further notice, only visitors deemed necessary for patient care will be allowed, including:

  • One or two parents or guardians for pediatric and neonatal intensive care unit babies
  • One support person for patients with disabilities or impairments needing assistance
  • One support person/driver for patients in outpatient surgery
  • Two support people for critical patients who may be at the end of life
  • A good-bye visit from a military member being deployed who has a military ID

Visitors must be 14 or older and meet screening criteria to enter.

Food Service: We will temporarily close cafeteria-style stations where food service staff serve meals or individuals serve themselves from a buffet. To limit potential exposure to infection, all of our foods will instead be prepackaged. This applies to cafeterias and food counters at the Texas Diabetes Institute, the Robert B. Green campus and University Hospital. We will also be closing the seating area at the Robert B. Green campus café, as the seating area is too small to allow for appropriate social distancing.

Elective surgeries: University Transplant Center has announced measures for evaluating surgeries. Medical teams will continue to perform transplants for patients whose lives would be endangered if an available organ were not transplanted. For patients who are stable and can wait a few weeks for a transplanted organ that may be coming from a living donor, we may opt to postpone the procedure.

Supplies: Currently, we have an adequate supply of masks, gowns, gloves, and other personal protective equipment, but we monitor these counts daily and continue to work with our suppliers to find opportunities to increase these supplies. This is a huge priority. There are national shortages of many items including those needed to collect samples and perform COVID-19 testing, so we are carefully monitoring these supplies, as well.

Media Interviews: We greatly appreciate the media’s assistance in communicating important information from our medical experts and about our operations. However, to limit exposure of everyone to the virus, we are not setting up interviews inside our buildings. We will consider interviews outside in areas adjacent to our facilities. We are exploring, and prefer using, efficient electronic options that allow media to record high-quality audio and video for publication.

Continued Practices: We continue to screen everyone, including staff, before they enter University Health System facilities. At the hospital, that includes taking their temperature and ensuring it does not exceed 100.4 degrees. We anticipate starting to take temperatures at our outpatient locations in the coming days.

We restrict in-person meetings to six or fewer people, require social distancing and have converted most meetings to teleconferences and/or web meetings.

We encourage anyone in need of updated information about best practices during this time of coronavirus to visit our blog, HealthFocusSA.net, or our website, UniversityHealthSystem.com/COVID19.

You’ll find information on recognizing COVID-19 symptoms, testing procedures, how to talk to your kids about the virus and topics aimed at helping families protect themselves and others.