COVID-19 Healthcare Team Updates

Information for Healthcare Teams

This website is a resource for UTMB Health staff that outlines processes and procedures for COVID-19 should a patient present with symptoms in a UTMB patient care setting. View information on U.S. cases on the CDC website.


Contact Infection Control

Healthcare personnel should immediately inform Infection Control of high-risk (symptoms + exposure) cases by paging (409) 643-3133.

Contact the following persons via UTMB phone operator at 409-772-1011 or email.

  • Infection Control: Dr. Janak Patel and Shirley Shores
  • Infectious Diseases: Drs. Susan McLellan and Philip Keiser

COVID-19 UTMB Health Clinical Taskforce Updates

  • Judicious Use of PPE: Reprocessing PPE

    April 2, 2020, 16:41 PM by Mary Feldhusen
    As communicated in prior messages, UTMB has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for our staff; however, we must always be judicious in our use of this equipment. To ensure continued availability in times of crisis, CDC guidelines allow for the reuse of PPE, including filtering facepiece respirators and eye protection.
  • UPDATED: Surgical Mask Requirement

    April 2, 2020, 16:20 PM by COVID-19 Communications
    Beginning Friday, April 3 at 6 a.m., everyone who enters a UTMB health care facility (clinics, emergency department or inpatient) will be provided a mask at the screening counter to wear for the day. A new mask will be issued daily, to be worn the entire time you are within the health care facility.
  • Crisis Standard of Care

    March 31, 2020, 16:35 PM by Mary Feldhusen
    We are living in extraordinary times as our lives seem upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are inundated with news, stories and information, so much so that at times, it seems daunting to keep pace with developments locally, regionally and around the world. We have many questions about how we will prioritize the use of scarce resources in this crisis, reallocate resources and define standards of care as we care for patients, the public, each other and ourselves. We are not there yet, but we must continue to plan ahead.
  • Surgical Mask Requirement

    March 30, 2020, 17:15 PM by COVID-19 Communications
    As the COVID-19 epidemic continues to progress and evolve in our region, the safety and welfare of our patient care providers remains our No. 1 priority. UTMB employees who are still working on our campuses but whose jobs don’t require entrance into a health system facility, to please avoid entering our hospitals, clinics and emergency departments at this time. In addition, to further emphasize the safety of our caregiver staff, UTMB Health is requiring that all employees involved in interactions with patients—through direct patient care, transportation, supply chain, housekeeping, food service, etc.—wear surgical masks while in the clinical setting, effectively immediately.
  • Temperature Screenings Begin March 30 at all UTMB Entrances

    March 29, 2020, 12:21 PM by COVID-19 Communications
    Tuesday, March 31, UTMB is also conducting temperature screenings at all entry points to UTMB ambulatory clinics, hospitals and emergency departments where we currently see patients face to face. Anyone entering a health care facility (ambulatory, Emergency Department or inpatient), will have their temperature taken by screeners, who will use instruments that allow for the reading to be taken from a safe distance of 6 feet. Those who have an elevated temperature will be denied entrance. Click title for details...
  • A Message from the COVID-19 Task Force: Policy for Potential COVID-19 Employee Exposure and Confirmed Employee Cases

    March 27, 2020, 19:07 PM by COVID-19 Communications
    UTMB has established a new policy for employees who have been potentially exposed to a COVID-19 case and/or have tested positive for COVID-19, effective March 27, 2020. The policy addresses post-exposure management of an employee, and management of an infected employee.

Daily Update

  • As of 12:30 p.m., April 6, 2020

    April 6, 2020, 12:34 PM by COVID-19 Communications
    Today’s COVID-19 update includes information on child care services for UTMB employees, a new wellness tip of the day from your RISE (Resilience in Stressful Events) Task Force, and updated data regarding COVID-19 testing and patient data.

RLDatix Patient Event Reporting

COVID-19 General FAQs

FAQs

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus, now known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

While COVID-19 causes only mild illness in some infected individuals, it may cause serious lower respiratory infection leading to hospitalization and even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this factsheet highlighting important information you should know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).

Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • Stay home unless you need medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting a clinic
  • Wear a mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day
  • Monitor your symptoms

Last modified on 3/10/2020

To ensure adequate COVID-19 testing capacity for patients with medical need, UTMB Health will use the following process to determine when to test for COVID-19. This process is consistent with guidance from the local health authority and Texas Department of State Health Services.

  • Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, should contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.
  • The nurse hotline will advise the patient on what to do next, including the most appropriate clinic location for evaluation if needed. (Please note that patients with mild symptoms and no underlying risk factors may be advised to manage their symptoms at home.)
  • Once a patient arrives at the recommended location, they will be seen by a provider and likely given a flu test. (Colds and flu are still circulating widely in our region, so they first need to be ruled out as a cause of symptoms.)
  • If the flu test is positive, the patient will be treated for flu as appropriate.
  • If the flu test is negative, the provider will recommend whether a COVID-19 test is warranted, based on the most current guidance from health authorities.
  • Patients should follow provider recommendations for testing, self-isolation and management of symptoms.
  • Any patient experiencing a worsening of symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—a few days after first becoming ill should contact the Access Center IMMEDIATELY.
  • Patients who do not have symptoms of a respiratory infection will not be tested for COVID-19 at this time. This is to ensure we maintain adequate testing capacity for patients who have medical need. It also reduces the risk of a false negative result in a patient who may have been exposed to the virus but does not yet have enough virus in their system to cause symptoms and to show up on the test.

Please note: Our process and procedures may be updated as the COVID-19 situation develops in our region.

Last modified on 3/15/2020

This is one of the topics that remains under study; it's still not certain exactly how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (at one point nine days was mentioned, which the latest studies suggest may be unlikely). Survival of the virus will vary under different conditions, including type of surface, temperature, humidity and moisture, exposure to sunlight, and other factors.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. 

Last modified on 3/14/2020

There are no plans for UTMB to serve as a general quarantine facility in the case of an outbreak in our area. As always, we are prepared to care for patients who need hospitalization due to COVID-19 or any illness.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a dry cough,
  • fever of 100.4 F or higher, and
  • shortness of breath.

Any time a member of your household has a fever (whether flu, COVID-19 or another illness), they should stay home until they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours. If at any time you have concerns about any symptoms you or your family is experiencing, call your doctor.

Last modified on 3/10/2020

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

At this time, patients testing positive for COVID-19 who have mild symptoms, are not over age 60 and do not have an underlying medical condition are advised to isolate at home. If a patient with COVID-19 is concerned, begins to experience shortness of breath, starts feeling worse a week or so into the illness, is over age 60 or has an underlying medical condition, they are strongly encouraged to call their doctor or the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

Last modified on 3/16/2020