Dear Colleagues,

COVID-19 Cases:

BMC Total Inpatients

56

BMC Inpatients Requiring ICU Care

12

BMC Inpatients Under Investigation (pending + negatives treated as positives) 

9

Cumulative Staff Who Have Tested Positive

608 (53 new since 12/2)

Massachusetts Cases

259,324

Click to see the most up-to-date city, state, and national numbers: Boston | Massachusetts  | United States

Looking for COVID-related information on the Hub? Our COVID-19 pages have a new look and are easier to navigate. You can find general COVID-19 information for employees from the link on the homepage and COVID-19 clinical information here. You can also use the site search, which now gives you the option to see results only related to COVID-19.

NEW: BMC is Now in a Phase B

Based on city-wide COVID-19 cases and positivity rates, as well as BMC’s increasing census of COVID-positive patients, BMC is in a Phase B as of today, December 9. In this phase, BMC will continue our ongoing efforts to care for an increase in COVID-19 patients, such as moving Ambulatory visits to televisits when possible, increasing ICU and med/surg beds, and participating in workgroups with other Boston hospitals.

As we move into this phase, it’s also important that we all continue to take steps to keep ourselves, our patients, and our communities safe. Please continue to wear masks and physically distance both on and off campus. In addition, please do not come to work if you’re sick.

NEW: Use of Surge Spaces

Due to the current and expected increase in inpatients with COVID-19, BMC has activated 10 beds in the Pediatrics unit and 20 beds in the ATU/NST as adult surge spaces. In addition, additional med/surg and IMCU-level physician teams have been activated.

NEW: All Staff COVID-19 Update

In order to provide timely information about our ongoing response to COVID-19, including operational changes, and answer questions related to COVID-19, BMC will be holding regular COVID-19 updates where you can hear from hospital leaders. These sessions will be held on Zoom and are open to everyone. The first session will be held Friday, December 11, from 9:30-10 a.m. Zoom information will be available on the Hub.

NEW: Governor Baker Asks Hospitals to Postpone Select Elective Procedures

In an effort to preserve hospital inpatient capacity, Governor Baker announced Monday that effective December 11, hospitals must curtail select elective procedures that can be safely postponed. The curtailment of elective procedures is not as stringent as the restrictions put in place during the first coronavirus surge this spring.

These restrictions will be limited to inpatient treatments and procedures, and will not affect outpatient surgeries or appointments for preventive services like mammograms, colonoscopies, or regular pediatric checkups. BMC Operations and clinical leadership are making adjustments to scheduled procedures to comply with the new restrictions, and at this time we expect to reschedule approximately 40 percent of inpatient elective cases.

UPDATED: COVID-19 Vaccines

As early as next week, we will begin offering COVID-19 vaccines to BMC employees and providers. Vaccines will be rolled out in a phased process, following guidelines set by the federal and state government and tailored to BMC with input from administrative and clinical leadership. The first vaccines will be available to health care workers and support staff who could care for patients with COVID-19 or are most at risk for coming into contact with patients with COVID-19, followed by staff with less potential exposure.

NEW: Negative ET for COVID Related Absences

Beginning December 13, employees, including probationary employees, will be allowed to go negative for up to two weeks' worth of their full-time equivalent (FTE) hours for COVID-related absences. For example, a 40 hour employee can go negative for up to 80 hours of ET and a 24 hour employee can go negative for up to 48 hours of ET. Examples of COVID-related absences include when an employee has a confirmed positive exposure and needs to stay out of work; an employee is exhibiting symptoms, is tested and is told by the Working Well COVID team to remain out of work; and an employee completes their symptom screening tool and is told by the Working Well COVID team to remain out of work.

If an employee needs to be out of work for more than one weeks’ worth of their FTE they can begin utilizing ESL (after one week of ET), if they have an ESL balance. ESL may be used for COVID absences that result from the direction to remain out of work by the Working Well COVID team and as it relates to their own approved FMLA absences.

More information about the vaccine rollout, as well as information sessions for staff, will be coming later this week. A new page on bmc.org has general information on the vaccines and will be updated regularly.

 

REMINDER: December Holiday Travel Testing

In light of the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts and the upcoming holiday season, we want to remind all staff and faculty of our travel policies, particularly as they relate to being cleared to return to work. Personal travel remains discouraged, particularly to restricted areas, and BMC work travel remains prohibited except in specific circumstances.

Pre-travel and Asymptomatic Testing
Asymptomatic employees who need pre-travel testing or employees who are asymptomatic and are otherwise in need of testing can schedule an appointment at our voluntary testing site. Testing is available Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the Menino second floor, in what was previously the discharge lounge. 

The testing room is across from the Menino A/B conference rooms. The Menino public elevators do not stop on the second floor. Instead, you can access the second floor from both the Yawkey and Moakley buildings via elevators or taking stairs up one level. More information, including how to self-schedule a test, is available on the Hub.

Post-travel Testing
If you are planning to travel to a high-risk state, as designated by Massachusetts guidelines, you will need to have a negative test before returning to work. An appointment is required for testing. To schedule a post-travel test, please email [email protected].

The Working Well Clinic will be prioritizing employees based on a “first come, first served” basis. For return to work planning, consider the 24-48 hour turnaround time for test results.

Testing is now available:

  • Monday through Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Employees may self-clear to return to work if they receive a negative result in MyChart and remain asymptomatic.

If you plan on having testing done externally, please send a copy of your PCR test results to [email protected].  

NEW: COVID Pager Has Been Reactivated

As a supplement to the COVID-19 policies, guidelines, and other documents on the Hub, the COVID pager (#5236) has been reactivated as an additional reference for COVID-related questions. The Hub has been refreshed and is more easily searchable, and should be used as the primary source for any questions. Please only use the pager and ID resources for consults and questions that require their specific clinical expertise.

Consult requests for individual patients with active infectious diseases issues should continue to be referred to the ID consult service (#8902).  For COVID or non-COVID infectious disease questions related to children, adolescents, or newborns, please page the Pediatric ID service pager (#9200).

NEW: Regeneron Antibody Study Now Recruiting Participants Who Live With Someone Recently Diagnosed with COVID-19

Do you live with someone who was recently (within the last two days) diagnosed with COVID-19? If so, you may be able to join a study at BMC of the investigational Regeneron antibody drug that may help prevent COVID-19. Enrolled participants will receive reimbursement up to $4,875. For more information, please email [email protected].

UPDATED: Hotel Accommodations Available for Staff and Providers

BMC is providing overnight stays at hotels in close proximity to BMC at no cost to the employee/provider for providers and staff who may be facing one of the following cohabitation-related circumstances:

  • Providers and staff who cohabitate with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and remains symptomatic/quarantined
  • Providers and staff who cohabitate with someone who is immunocompromised (e.g., on immuno-suppressants, active hematologic malignancy)

Please note that last week’s Bulletin incorrectly stated that COVID-19 positive employees could access the hotels. Visit the Hub for instructions on requesting an accommodation.