June 24, 2020, Briefing - Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

Questions submitted for this briefing include these topics:

Furloughs

As we have previously stated, there are no plans for layoffs or furloughs at UT Southwestern related to revenue lost due to COVID-19. Any restructuring in departments that occurs would be due to decisions regarding longer business-operations planning prior to and extending beyond the impact of COVID-19. We firmly believe that maintaining a solid workforce is the key to a strong recovery as an organization.

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Custom Masks

Thank you for the suggestion. You may certainly wear any fabric covering over your face; it doesn’t have to be UTSW branded. We will take this into consideration.

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Personal Masking Recommendations

A recommended mask would be a surgical mask, but it’s important to remember that no mask is 100% effective. We must be diligent in continuing social distancing and other non-pharmacological interventions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Negative Rapid Tests Concerns

There are many factors that can contribute to a negative rapid test, including the limitations of the test itself, the collection method, viral burden, and the time of collection relative to patient presentation, or the number of days with symptoms or no symptoms. These limitations are known, which is why we reflex every negative test on a PCR-based platform. To date, there have been very few reversals. Sometimes, patients truly test negative, and that is why if there is concern for COVID-19 based on clinical presentation, the negative test alone should not be used to rule out disease, and rather the patient should continue to be managed as a COVID-19 patient.

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Positive Patient Numbers Reporting in Non-Hospitalized Emergency Department Visits

We are focusing on hospitalization numbers because that impacts our ability to take care of critically ill patients who need to be hospitalized and receive advanced care. Our focus remains on providing the highest-quality care and promoting the health of North Texas.

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Shipping and Delivery

Due to the closures of some building entrances, many common carriers such as Fed Ex and UPS are delivering packages to the staffed docks on campus. There have been some concerns raised regarding possible delays of critical patient supplies; therefore, we published the following expectations so clinics would know the cycle time to expect:

  • All general stores PPE and perishable orders received before noon will be delivered the same day.
  • All other orders will be delivered the next business day.

Additionally, common carriers are only redirected to a staffed dock if they encounter challenges with building access. We are encouraging all common carriers, particularly UPS, to attempt direct deliveries, as many of our buildings and clinics have reopened. As always, if you have any specific concerns, please reach out to Materials Management directly and we will work with you to put a solution in place to meet our customer’s needs.

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RedBird Expansion

Planning and programming actively continues for RedBird, with an intended opening of December 2021.

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Travel for Holidays

At this time, we are unable to predict what travel restrictions may look like in the fall. In addition, personal travel is not being reviewed by our Travel Oversite Committee, but both international and domestic travel are strongly discouraged. Your decision to travel for personal reasons may affect your ability to return to campus and to your regular professional or educational activities. We recommend all employees continue visiting the Travel section on our COVID-19 website to make informed decisions regarding their personal travel.

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Testing and Benefits

The UT SELECT and UT CONNECT plans will cover in-network medically necessary services at 100% for testing and treatment of COVID-19, including physician services, hospitalization, and emergency services. This means that members receiving medical care for COVID-19 from network providers and facilities should have no out-of-pocket costs.

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Remote Employee Decisions

Managers are encouraged to discuss and evaluate the work of the department, the physical work environment, and the ability of the employee to work remotely. With supervisor approval, employees who can productively work remotely should continue to do so. We recognize that for many, remote work has been efficient and productive, and we will be reassessing our policy on telecommuting. Please continue to monitor your emails for updates.

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Remote Work

We recognize that for many, remote work has been efficient and productive, and we will be reassessing our policy on telecommuting in the coming months. Please speak with your supervisor regarding scheduling and continue to monitor our COVID-19 website and your email for further information.

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Shuttle Operations Expansion

Yes, we will add a shuttle bus to the route that picks up/drops off at the TRE during peak periods in the morning and evening. We are also outfitting the shuttles with plexiglass shields between seats to allow for up to 10 passengers per shuttle. As a reminder, passengers must wear a mask at all times when riding the shuttle.

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Crisis Fatigue

We encourage all employees to take time for self-care to sustain their emotional, mental, physical, social, and spiritual well-being. Tools and resources can be found on our .edu Wellness page. Information regarding counseling and mental health services can be found on our employee health website.

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Listen to the Full Briefing