Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

10/19/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/19/2020 15:26

College of Medicine pandemic response Friday round-up – week of Oct. 12-16

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 Oct. 16 about the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New updates this week

  • Important Reminders with Added Capacity
  • Mask Recall
  • Off-site Observational Clinical Research Now Being Reviewed
  • Suspension of Weekly Research Schedule Submission
  • In Case You Missed It Recap
  • College of Medicine COVID-19 Dashboard

Important Reminders

As more people return to work on campus, we want to remind our faculty, staff and students to continue to be vigilant in the following areas:

  • We have recently had instances on campus of people coming to work with symptoms of COVID-19 and then testing positive after exposing others. If you have any new onset of symptoms, please do not come to work. If you have any new symptoms, please call either Employee or Student Health. New symptoms can include:
    • New cough that is not attributable to another medical condition
    • New muscle aches that are not attributable to another medical condition or another specific activity
    • New throat pain not attributable to another medical condition
    • New shortness of breath not attributable to another medical condition
    • New loss of small or taste - recommend testing sense of smell each morning
  • If you have any symptoms during the check-in process upon arriving to campus, please do not enter the building. Call either Employee or Student Health to verify if it is safe to enter or if you need to be tested.
  • Practice social distancing and wearing a mask, especially when eating and drinking: There is evidence that there is a major risk of spreading infection at work while eating or drinking near others. COVID can be easily spread - even if someone is asymptomatic - once they remove their mask. It is recommended to eat outdoors, in the cafeteria while socially distanced or in an approved room while six feet (or more) away from others. Time is also an important factor, so masks should only be removed for a short time while actually eating or drinking, then masks should be put back on.
  • Capacity in conference, break rooms and lunch rooms:As more people come back to work, please remember that the reduced room capacity for departmental conference rooms, break rooms and lunch rooms established during phase 3 remains in effect and should be posted on the door to each room.

We thank everyone for their diligence in creating and maintaining a safe working environment.

Mask Recall

The procedure masks distributed to College of Medicine researchers and students on Oct. 6 through Oct. 13 do not meet safety standards for medical use and have been recalled. The masks that were provided have a 90% filtration efficiency and not the medical-grade use standard of 95% filtration efficiency. The risk of infection is low when they are used in basic science labs and other research environments that have no direct patient contact.

October 19, 2020Penn State College of Medicine News

However, because the safety of our employees and trainees is our top priority, Hershey Medical Center leadership will be removing these masks from affected areas and replacing them with medical grade masks. We recommend that all departmental pandemic safety officers pick up new masks in the Anteroom next Tuesday, Oct. 20, between noon and 3 p.m. Before Oct. 20, please stop by C4723 to pick up the correct 95% medical-grade masks. The hospital is continuing to evaluate the safety of our supply chain to prevent a reoccurrence.

Off-Site Observational Clinical Research Now Being Reviewed

In an email this week, Candy Yenkel, associate vice president for research at Penn State, reported that the University is now allowing researchers to request permission to conduct research at non-Penn State locations. All in-person observational research, regardless of location, if not being conducted during a clinical visit, must be approved through InfoReady.

All research that can be performed remotely should continue remotely. Researchers wishing to conduct in-person research must demonstrate strong rationale for meeting with participants face-to-face during the pandemic. Contact Neal Thomas ([email protected]) with any questions.

Suspension of Weekly Research Schedule Submission

On Oct. 12, the College transitioned to phase 4 for its research activities. All laboratory PI's should continue to develop work schedules for their lab and post these in the vicinity of their lab so they can be checked by Biosafety and Pandemic Officers. However, effective immediately, these weekly research lab schedules do not need to be submitted to your department chair or safety officer for posting in BOX. Please continue to check in daily at the College entrance for contact tracing, if necessary. Although we are now at a maximum research capacity of 80%, appropriate physical distancing of at least 150 square feet per person is still required along with appropriate PPE. We urge those who can work remotely should continue to do so.

COVID-19 Cases on campus

The table below summarizes the number of COVID-19 cases among our College of Medicine faculty, staff and students for this past week.

College of Medicine Statistics

Week of Oct. 12-16

  • Current employees/students represents the number who have shown symptoms this week.
  • Total employees/students represents the number who have been quarantined or tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020 (for employees) or July 2020 (for students)

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