Below are COVID-19 preparation updates specific to the Department of Surgery. For a complete listing of UAB updates and policies, visit uab.edu/coronavirus or oneuabmedicine.org/coronavirus.

Daily Updates

August 13, 2021

University Events Guideline Update

Guidelines for university-sponsored events whether on- or off-campus have been updated. The new policies can be found here: https://www.uab.edu/uabunited/additional-resources/university-events

These guidelines will be reviewed monthly, at a minimum, and will likely change. Please use the UAB United website as a source for all COVID-related policies and guidelines. 

August 12, 2021

Domestic Travel Form

Effective Aug. 4, 2021, a new pre-approval form must be completed prior to domestic travel. This form is required documentation for UAB reimbursement from Non-Grant accounts whether reimbursing through payment request or purchase with a UAB P-Card. More information on the process of using an HSF account is forthcoming.

Travel Pre-Approval Form

Again, this form is used to request pre-approval for domestic travel including conference registration fees. It must be included with appropriate documentation to be reimbursed via p-card or payment request.

Note: If a trip is fully covered by contract and grant funds, the Travel Pre-Approval Form is not required.  In addition, this form is not required for athletic team travel, student recruiting travel, UAB perspective employee travel, and international travel. However, a cost transfer for travel-related expenses to a VCS account will not be processed without this form.

 

Telehealth Regulatory and Operations Updates

As regulations continue to evolve, UAB Medicine has provided the following updates:

  • Out-of-state telehealth is no longer allowed.
  • Reduce audio-only telehealth visits.
  • Initiate controlled substances in person only.
  • Telehealth-only clinics with fully virtual staff improve efficiency and free up clinic space for in-person visits.
  • No permanent billing decisions have been made on telehealth coverage.
  • Remote patient monitoring is now actively monitoring over 315 patients for diseases such as CHF, diabetes, and hypertension.
  • Use eConsults to ask for consultative care in an asynchronous manner.
  • Many new tech updates have been made.
  • Volunteer to have students teleshadow in the clinic remotely.

To read the comprehensive update, please click here.

 

New Procedures for COVID Testing

Beginning Monday, Aug. 16, COVID-testing is moving from the Kirlin Clinic parking deck to the UAB Hospital-Highlands parking deck. Drive-through testing will be open from Sunday through Friday, 7:30 am to 11:30 am

Operational changes to pre-procedure COVID-testing have been made. Click here to view and download the complete document.

 

March 20, 2020

For those who wish to reference past email communications from the department, we have created a DOS Coronavirus Update page.

Below are the latest updates:

General Surgery Residency Schedule

Starting, tomorrow, March 20 for all services the general surgery residence will move to a holiday coverage model. For the schedule and further details about this transition please reference this document.

Emergency Childcare Options

Many have expressed a need for childcare options. UAB Medicine has posted these resources that are available to employees.

Provider Resources

Below are two printable guides to help providers navigate online or electronic patient care:

Blood Shortage

Blood is needed now more than ever. If you are well and can donate, please do so as soon as possible. Click here for the latest blood drive times and locations.

Employee Wellness

In this time of change and disruption, it's normal to feel anxious and stressed. I'd bet we are all feeling it! We encourage you to use the resources available to you as an employee to help ease some of this distress. Here are a few:
  • The Employee Assistance and Counseling Center is offering distance counseling and online resources for off-campus employees. Read more about this service here.
  • All UAB Medicine employees (faculty, staff, APPs, nurse, trainees) and medical students have access to the Well-Being Index - a brief online self-assessment that provides immediate, individualized feedback, including tools and local and national resources to address personal well-being. Login here.

Technology Tips

Working in a different environment can be tricky at times. Here are some tips that may make things easier:
  • Some users were unable to access the AS/400 web link (Billing Assistant) from the Citrix storefront. This has been corrected, however you may need to reboot your computer.
  • Make your personal phone number anonymous by first dialing *67 then the phone number. This will block your phone number and can be useful when calling patients from a personal phone.
  • With the many employees using remote access or VPN, the system can sometime lag or become slow.
  • Log off of VPN when you are not actively working, your colleagues will thank you!
  • If you are having issues with your VPN, Stuart Brooks has asked that you contact him directly.

March 17, 2020

As we continue to meet with hospital leadership and make decisions, we will keep communicating the changes to the entire department. Here are today's most recent updates:

Elective Cases

Starting, tomorrow, March 18 all elective operations and interventional procedures for the next two weeks until March 31st at minimum are canceled. For cases felt to be necessary and to be performed during this time, certain criteria (linked below) must be met and the case must be approved by the division director and vetted by the OR committee. To help navigate this change, please read the resources listed below:

Official memorandum and appeal process information
Case Triage levels and definitions

Ambulatory Clinics

Most clinics have already begun to triage patient appointments and implement eMedicine. Please continue to do this. Note, there is a distinction between eMedicine video visits and phone visits. Both of which are viable options.

  • eMedicine - Please reference prior emails and the resources below for clarification on credentialing and implementation:

  • Note: All major payors have allowed eMedicine visits except for Alabama Medicaid.

    Phone visits - These are visits that do not utilize video but are strictly phone based. A work-aid document will be distributed tomorrow with more details about this visit option.

    Blood Shortage

    Blood is needed now more than ever. If you are well and can donate, please do so as soon as possible. Find a location near you, take precautions, practice social distancing, and donate soon. The UAB Medicine Blood Donation Center located in North Pavilion is open Monday - Friday, 10:30 am - 4 pm. Walk-in's welcome.

    Remote Work

    As we transition as many employees as we can to remote work, please see the following CDC guidelines on preventing the spread of COVID-19 to others in your home and community. Below are resources for those transitioning to remote work:

    • Confirm your workgroup here. If you have any questions about your Workgroup or remote work, please contact your supervisor.
    • Complete the Remote Access request form. HSIS will contact you and help you complete the remote access set up. Install the free RSA SecurID application on a smart device from the iTunes App Store or Android App Store in preparation.
    • HSIS will share the HSIS Remote Access Guide with you. This guide will help you gain access to Citrix Workspace offsite. You will need to make sure that Citrix Workspace is installed on your computer to use applications on UAB Medicine Citrix Storefront.
    • Review UAB COVID-19 home care guidelines in preparation for potential patient questions as well as for your own personal knowledge.

    You can follow additional COVID-19 updates and closures related to Work Group assignments here.

    Employee Health

    Self-care is incredibly important at this time. As the number of positive cases rise in Alabama and the US, our healthcare providers will not be immune. We must stay healthy and ready to care for our patients. Each division will be enacting measures to limit provider exposure so healthy reserves are kept on-hand to be pulled in as needed for patient care. If you are a provider in an at-risk population, please discuss self-preservation options with your division director. Again, as the numbers rise, we will be counting on everyone to keep our mission of excellent patient care.

    If you suspect you contracted COVID-19, please self-quarantine, consider your testing options, contact your supervisor, and read through this Employee Health FAQ.

    Testing options

    • UAB hopes to have in-house testing by week's end. As we learn more details, we will let you know.
    • Assurance Scientific Labs is open daily but will NOT have Coronavirus drive-thru testing at either of the Acton Road in Vestavia or Memorial Drive in Bessemer locations. Please research the availability of tests before leaving home. They have limited tests available per day.
    • Urgent Care for Children offers curbside COVID-19 testing, which will be sent to a third-party lab and return results typically within 24 hours. Please call your closest clinic location for more details prior to arriving.

    Residents and Fellows

    Click here to view the email discussing the general surgery resident workforce changes. For other residencies and the fellowships, please contact your program director or coordinator with questions or concerns.

    March 16, 2020

    First off, THANK YOU for your hard work during this challenging time. Coming together and providing the best care to the people of Alabama is no small task. As we each navigate the COVID-19 situation together, it is important to disseminate correct information to your team and colleagues.

    You will continue to receive email updates from the DOS admin team and UAB central communications as new information arises. We will try not to duplicate information. If you have questions or would like to clarify or fact-check information, do not hesitate to reach out to Christal Moore or Herbert Chen.

    Here are the most recent updates:

    Elective Surgeries

    There is a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, Mar. 17) morning to confirm a plan for elective surgeries. This plan would likely begin Wednesday, Mar. 18. We will update the department with the details of this plan as they become available.

    Ambulatory Clinics

    There is a meeting Wednesday, Mar. 18 to decide plans for ambulatory cancellations. We will update the department with the details of this plan as they become available.

    VA Limited Operations Plan

    The VA will continue emergent, urgent and semi-elective cases. Any surgeon can request to do a case if they feel it is needed on a more urgent basis than the procedure type would indicate. Contact Dr. George Yang with questions.

    Blood Shortage

    As outlined in this blood supply memo, we face a critical need for blood. If you are on-campus or are able to drive to a donation center, please consider donating. The UAB Medicine Blood Donation Center located in North Pavilion is open Monday - Friday, 10:30 am - 4 pm. Walk-in's welcome.

    Work Groups A and C

    Information regarding Workgroup A was emailed from central UAB communications on Sunday, Mar. 15. Today, many received information on Workgroup C. If you have questions about these emails, please contact Marva Morgan or Christal Moore.

    Medical Students

    Below are new guidance from the AAMC regarding Clinical Rotations, click here for the full document.

    MS3 and MS4 rotations will stop at close of business today.All group instruction will move to Zoom format. Alternative instruction methods for students are being sought. More instructions pending from the medical school. For information about Zoom, click here.


    Students visiting our campus from other locations (US or International) have been asked not to come at this time. International students already on campus will be given further instructions by the International Medical Student Office but should not be expected to report to work at this time.

    Residents & Fellows

    Drs. Britany Corey and John Porterfield, along with the administrative chief residents, will send an initial general surgery resident work plan this evening. As the number of residents working each day is limited, division directors will be notified so a proper reserve of residents is maintained in the event someone becomes ill or quarantined. Some changes to the resident schedule have already been made and understanding and flexibility is appreciated.

    For other residencies and the fellowships, please contact your program director or coordinator with questions or concerns.

    COVID-19 Testing

    If you feel you need to be tested for COVID-19, please alert your supervisor and review your testing options. Some are listed below:

    • Assurance Scientific Labs has moved drive-thru testing to Church of the Highlands Grandview Campus location at 3660 Grandview Parkway, Birmingham Parkway, Birmingham, AL 35243. They will be open daily from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM starting Tuesday, March 17th. Assurance will NOT have Coronavirus Drive-Thru testing at either of our Acton Road in Vestavia or Memorial Drive in Bessemer. Physicians can enter and order online with the patient’s information here as well.
    • Urgent Care for Children is now offering curbside COVID-19 testing, which will be sent to a third-party lab and return results typically within 24 hours. Please call your closest clinic location for more details prior to arriving.


    Mail Services

    The UAB mail services will remain open and available for department use. Although, they may limit service over time, this should not interrupt normal business.

    Supply Chain

    Our vendors are reporting high volumes of ordering from our UAB Research teams. Do not order surplus materials or stockpile materials during this time. Keep all orders to your normal timing/amounts. This is important for vendors to keep materials available to our institution and their other customers. If you have urgent, enhanced needs for materials, please contact UAB Financial Affairs to help facilitate those orders.

    March 15, 2020

    This situation continues to evolve rapidly. Based on the experiences of other countries and epidemiological experts, we are anticipating a large wave of COVID-19 patients requiring inpatient care over the next several weeks. Hospital and University leadership are moving quickly to create the capacity to meet this anticipated demand, while protecting the health and welfare of our physicians, APPs, and supporting staff.

    The DOS leadership team and JOLC have been in constant communication. Please read through the following updates from the latest meeting:

    Transfers:

    The Center for Patient Flow has released a guidance on transfers document. Note, the current UAB policy is that patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 must be admitted to either the Hospitalist or MICU service. This applies to admissions from other hospitals as well as our own ED.

    Elective Cases:

    In the near future, it is likely UAB will decide to defer elective cases to assure beds for people with COVID-19. We have capacity to complete all of the cases for Monday, and will make an assessment for Tuesday and beyond. In the meantime, do the following to be prepared:

    This weekend, clinical faculty need to review their schedules for next week and be prepared to reschedule elective cases. We will work with the Access Center to determine what resources they have to help coordinate with patients, but the Access Center staff will not have the expertise to determine which cases are acceptable to defer.

    Staffing:

    It is possible that clinical faculty from a variety of disciplines will be called to help care for general medical patients and participate in an acute care pool. Division directors are asked to compile a list of clinicians within your division who would be suitable to serve in this capacity. Please provide that list to Christal Moore via email by close of business on Monday.

    At-Risk Providers:

    UAB Medicine is working to develop standard guidelines for at-risk providers (those who are increased risk from COVID-19 because of medical conditions, treatment, or age). In the meantime, if you are concerned about this issue, please contact your division director or Christal Moore.

    Inpatient Consultations:

    Please develop a plan for how inpatient consultations can be done that do not require the patient to be seen. The plan must include documentation of the consultation in IMPACT and agreement between the requesting physician and the consulting physician. We will let you know when these plans should be implemented. We are working with the Hospitalist Program to avoid unnecessary consultations.

    Outpatient Clinic Visits:

    Clinics should prepare to limit in-person appointments to patients who must be seen. Routine follow-up, health maintenance, and simple problem visits can be rescheduled or handled via telemedicine. We will care for as many patients as possible via Telehealth (see below). Work with your division director to develop a plan for how you will identify patients not needing to be seen and for how they will be notified. We will work with the Access Center to see how they can support this work.

    eMedicine/Telehealth:

    eMedicine/Telehealth can decrease exposure to COVID-19, conserve resources, and maintain the care needed for outpatients. Procedures for billing are being implemented. Both BCBS and CMS will reimburse for this. Providers must have telemedicine privileges approved before they can do a telemedicine visit. To get these privileges, all physicians and APPs who care for outpatients must complete the Healthstream training module. This takes 15 minutes to complete. To find this module:

    • Sign in to Healthstream - uab.edu/healthstream
    • Click Catalog in the top navigation
    • Search the catalog for “eMedicine Home Visit Procedure”
    • Enroll in and complete the course


    Please get this done as soon as possible, so we can focus on the scheduling and implementation aspects. Dr. Abhisek Parmar will be leading the efforts to deploy this tool with each team. Stay tuned for another email explaining how to use the eMedicine tool.

    Visitors:

    Visitors to the campus are limited to those which are essential. The restrictions on visitors include family, friends, and children. Unless you are seeking medical care for them, do not bring children or family members to any UAB facility.

    Essential visitors to the department may include study site monitors needed for safety, personnel required for maintenance of critical equipment, and others. If you need to have a visitor in our facilities, please send Christal Moore and Herbert Chen a request with a short explanation.

    The hospital has restricted patient visitation to a maximum of two family members. Children 14 and under are not permitted to visit the hospital.

    Staffing, work locations and leave:

    Please read the latest update on a limited business model here. Staff and faculty are encouraged to work from home, if possible. They can request access to the VPN token here. For questions regarding staffing and work locations, please contact your supervisor, Marva Morgan or Christal Moore.

    If leave becomes necessary because of quarantine, illness or other reasons, HR has posted a statement on leave policies that apply.

    We know there is a lot of information coming your way, daily. We are trying to streamline this info and not duplicate what is coming from UAB and UAB Medicine central offices. Please be sure to read those emails as well.