Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

11/23/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/23/2020 12:49

College of Medicine pandemic response Friday round-up – week of Nov. 16-20

From left, Dr. Leslie Parent, vice dean for research and graduate studies; Dr. Terry Wolpaw, vice dean of educational affairs; and Dr. Charles Lang, associate dean for graduate studies and Dr. Neal Thomas, associate dean for clinical research.

College of Medicine leaders updated faculty, staff and students on Nov. 20 about the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

New updates this week

  • Pausing observational human subjects research effective Monday, Nov. 23
  • Ramping down research effective Monday, Nov. 23
  • Safety rounds from leadership to begin
  • Break and lunchroom caution
  • Travel policy updated, Pennsylvania travel and masking requirements detailed
  • Voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing available for faculty and staff
  • COVID testing return from Thanksgiving
  • Student wellness days
  • Harrell Health Sciences Library holiday hours
  • In case you missed It - link to last week's email

The following message is being sent on behalf of Dr. Terry Wolpaw, Dr. Leslie Parent, Dr. Chuck Lang and Dr. Neal Thomas.

November 23, 2020Penn State College of Medicine News

Pausing Observational Human Subjects Research Effective Monday, Nov. 23: Given the rapid acceleration of the prevalence of COVID-19 locally and across Pennsylvania, effective Nov. 23 for the College of Medicine and all Penn State Health sites, studies involving in-person interaction with participants with no direct drug or device therapeutic benefit must pause. Research interactions with participants such as telephone contact, remote monitoring, or remote data collection may continue. Any observational study (whether inpatient or outpatient) that requires any additional in-person contact with subjects must be postponed until further notice. This decision has been made by Interim Dean Dr. Kevin Black, and Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Dr. Leslie Parent, in consultation with researchers and College leadership.

Ramping down research effective Monday, Nov. 23: Because of the rapidly escalating number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in Pennsylvania and nationally, the College of Medicine will be ramping down research starting Monday, Nov. 23. Out of an abundance of caution, research will be scaled back on this date to those permissible in phase 3 of our research plan (refer to the coronavirus section of our website). In general, phase 3 permits a maximum research occupancy of 50% at any given time.

Please plan your research to account for this reduced level of occupancy, and continue to post lab schedules adjacent to the laboratory. Decreasing the amount of time each person is in lab and reinstituting split work shifts is suggested. It is imperative to allow for appropriate physical distancing and mask-wearing during the coming months. In-person lab meetings and other types of group meetings are also suspended while in phase 3 and should be continued remotely. Our hope is the transition back to phase 3 will only be temporary. However, with the increased infection rate and holiday season approaching, this move is necessary to maintain the safety of our employees and students. Thank you for your cooperation.

Safety rounds: In response to the increased number of COVID-19 exposures among faculty, staff and students at the College of Medicine, administrative leaders will begin making daily safety rounding to proactively enforce safety protocols.

Break and lunchrooms: Please exercise increased caution when eating lunch in rooms with other employees, since everyone may be unmasked. When eating, people must maintain more than six feet of distance and should not sit directly across from one another at a table. The small dining rooms in the cafeteria are now available for lunch. To free up space in break and lunchrooms, please stagger lunch/break times or leave the room immediately after you are finished eating. A working group has formed to identify additional space for lunch and breaks. More information will follow.

Travel policy updated, Pennsylvania travel and masking requirements detailed: Penn State Health and the College of Medicine have updated the Travel and Quarantine policy to clarify that all travel - domestic and international - is strongly discouraged at this time. Additionally, employees must disclose international travel plans, whether business or personal, with their manager/supervisor before departure, and again after return, before returning to the workplace.

College of Medicine employees must follow the Travel and Quarantine policy and are further encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Guidelines as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Health's new mitigation strategies, effective Nov. 20, to slow the spread of COVID-19, including heightened masking and travel requirements. In addition, please see the guidelines highlighted in Penn State Today this week to help guide you. If you have quarantine-related questions, please contact Penn State Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492.

Voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing available for faculty and Staff: Penn State has extended asymptomatic testing to College of Medicine faculty and staff who are working on campus and wish to be tested. Testing will only be available to employees who are listed in Penn State's return-to-work database, which can be done by filling out the return-to-work authorization form. Eligible employees can request voluntary tests for themselves till mid-January. Employees who wish to participate in voluntary testing may do so by using the following link. Hershey Medical Center faculty and staff should refer to the following link for guidance.

Student Updates

COVID testing required on return from Thanksgiving: A quarantine period and mandatory COVID testing following the Thanksgiving holiday will be required as students return from the holiday. At this time, it will initially impact all third- and fourth-year MD students, second-year Physician Assistant students and grad students. The testing for Hershey-based students will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 1, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the University Fitness Center main gym. University Park students testing will occur Wednesday, Dec. 2, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hintz Family Alumni Center in State College.

Graduate Students: COVID-19 testing will be required for all graduate students wishing to return to the College to continue their research after Thanksgiving. Graduate students returning from Thanksgiving will need to be tested on Tuesday, Dec. 1, and then quarantine until test results are returned. Testing will not be required for students who conduct all of their education remotely.

MD and PA Students: COVID testing will be required following the Thanksgiving holiday. The quarantine period will begin Sunday evening, Nov. 29, and extend to Saturday, Dec. 5. Hershey-based students, please plan on getting your COVID test on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at the UFC. University Park students testing will occur Wednesday, Dec. 2, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hintz Family Alumni Center in State College. This impacts all third- and fourth-year MD students, second-year PA students. Students will need to complete the full quarantine period, document a negative test result, and be cleared by Student Affairs to return to clinical rotations on Dec. 5.

Wellness Days: Graduate students at the College of Medicine will comply with University policy on Wellness Days for spring 2021. Wellness days have been identified as Feb. 9, March 11 and April 7. No course instruction is permitted on these days and instructors may not move this missed instruction time to later in the semester. The expectation is that students will be excused from laboratory research unless there are extenuating circumstances. Those students wishing to continue their research are certainly welcome to do so. The MD and PA programs, too, are following the University policy to plan wellness days throughout the spring semester instead of a spring break week. The exact days are in the process of being set for each program and will be communicated as soon as they are decided.

Harrell Health Sciences Library Holiday Hours

The Harrell Health Sciences Library will be unstaffed on the following dates:

  • Thursday, Nov. 26 - Sunday, Nov. 29
  • Thursday, Dec. 24 - Sunday, Jan. 3

The library space will still be accessible by badge access 24/7 during these times.

Online reference service will be available Tuesday, Dec. 29, through Thursday, Dec. 31, as normal (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) via [email protected].

In case you missed it

Click here to view last week's Pandemic Response Email.

If you're having trouble accessing this content, or would like it in another format, please email the Penn State College of Medicine web department.