Duke Health

Clinical Operations COVID-19 Update

As we continue to navigate the ongoing  challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are committed to keeping our employees abreast of updates and changes as they happen. With that in mind, you will continue to receive communication across the system. We understand these are difficult times and are working to ensure you have access to all of the information available to help navigate the Omicron surge together. Thank you for your continuing commitment to our patients, their families and each other.  


The CDC recently updated its recommended isolation and quaranrtine periods in community settings. This document highlights what has and has not changed with regard to current DUHS guidelines for the management of patients with concern for COVID-19. Please note that the CDC has not updated its guidance for isolation quarantine in healthcare settings. 
Effective this week, Duke University Health System will make N95 masks available for team members who would prefer added protection in light of the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant. These supplemental masks are accessible to any DUHS team member. The N95 masks being distributed do not require fit testing, but employees should self-check their seal by following these directions.
We appreciate your patience as we roll out this new program and hope that those who are interested in obtaining N95 masks will be able to do so in the coming days. 
Any employee who would like an N95 should request one through their manager. Each area/unit will begin to receive a supply of masks through supply chain delivery to distribute appropriately. Individuals who do not have a manager or who work in a different location from their manager (eg, consultants) can access N95s on hospital units.
All Duke-issued N95 masks will be distributed with a paper bag for storage in between uses. As good stewards of this resource, employees are asked to use the masks appropriately and discard after the 5th use or earlier if it gets soiled. 
Additionally, it should be reiterated to teams that Duke-issued ear loop masks are safe and effective at protecting against COVID-19. Employees should make sure their mask, whichever type they are using, is well-fitted, consistently worn over their nose and mouth and that proper hand hygiene is used when putting it on.  

Thank you for your continued support as we navigate this next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eye protection is required for all team members when providing direct patient care. Face shields are the preferred eye protection, as they provide full coverage of the eyes and also protect the underlying face mask from potential contamination. Face shields are required to care for patients on Special Airborne Contact Isolation or Droplet/Contact Isolation. Click here for additional eye protection resources. 

At this time, Duke University Health System is currently operating at  Orange Status for three measurable categories: Infections in Healthcare Personnel, Exposures and Quarantine, and Contact Tracing. For a full breakdown of the COVID-19 Case Management Guidelines, please click here. 
COVID-19 vaccination (including the booster shot) remains the most effective way to protect against infection. Evidence shows that it prevents severe illness, hospitalization and death. 
As the below graphic shows, the overwhelming majority (77%) of hospitalized COVID-19 patients across our health system are unvaccinated. Nearly all COVID patients requiring higher levels of care – including mechanical breathing assistance – have not received a COVID vaccine.
As of January 3, more than 1,100 health system employees are currently out of work due to active COVID infection, quarantine, or pending test results. This rapid increase is largely due to the short incubation period and highly contagious nature of the Omicron variant.
Keeping our team members healthy is essential to our ability to continue to provide care to our patients and community. Please be vigilant in practicing all safe behaviors – wear a well-fitting mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain six feet of distance from others and avoid eating or drinking near others. Additionally, wear appropriate eye protection when providing direct patient care.
Even if you have received an approved non-medical exemption from the COVID vaccination requirement, we strongly encourage you to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Thank you for doing all you can to keep yourself and those around you safe and healthy. 
During the Leadership Town Hall on January 3, leaders addressed issues and answered questions from DUHS employees about boosters and other COVID-19 response efforts including vaccination operations. 
View the Recording
As a reminder, our hospitals remain in Tier 2 (limited access) of our visitation guidelines. Currently, two visitors are allowed in each inpatient room at one time. Identifying designated visitors is no longer required, and switching of visitors is allowed, with a maximum of two visitors in the hospital at one time. This document provides talking points to assist staff in communicating our visitation guidelines.
Inpatient visitors must continue to check in at the hospital information desk to receive a visitor badge. If you see someone without a valid visitor badge, please kindly direct them to return to the information desk to check in. All visitors are strongly encouraged to wear a Duke-issued ear loop mask, available at hospital entrances. 
Hospital leadership continue to closely monitor the impact of COVID on our staff and in our community. We will make adjustments to our guidelines as needed.
For team members in need of COVID-19 testing sites for NC friends and family outside of Duke Health, these links may help you find available testing options. 
To view some of the links included in this email, you must be on the Duke Health Network as well as using your Duke NetID and password.