Duke Health

Clinical Operations COVID-19 Update

As 2021 draws to a close, we want to acknowledge your hard work and dedication through the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, we have learned a great deal, and as difficult as it is to face further surges in cases, we are better prepared in many ways to continue delivering quality and compassionate care to our patients, their loved ones and each other.
With that in mind, we want to take this opportunity to share some important updates regarding our COVID-19 response. Thank you for your support as we work together to keep everyone safe and healthy.
COVID-19 BOOSTER REQUIREMENT
All Duke University Health System (DUHS) and Private Diagnostic Clinic (PDC) team members, regardless of work location, are required to receive and provide documentation of a completed COVID-19 booster vaccination by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, or within 28 days of their eligibility under CDC and state guidelines. More details are available in this email that was sent to all staff on Tuesday, Dec. 28.

The COVID-19 booster provides effective, lifesaving protection against the highly contagious Omicron variant. Evidence shows that it prevents severe illness, hospitalization and death. 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. 

In addition to receiving the COVID-19 booster, it is critical to practice all other safe behaviors – wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain six feet of distance from others and avoid eating or drinking in close proximity to others.
RETURNING TO WORK AFTER EXPOSURE OR POSITIVE COVID TEST
The health of our employees and community remains our top priority. We are working with our DUHS infectious disease experts as well as state and federal agencies to provide clear guidelines for team members and essential personnel to return to work following a known exposure or positive COVID test.
COVID-19 Protocols Effective December 29, 2021  
Under a new tiered system for COVID-19 Case Management Guidelines, DUHS is currently operating at Orange Status for Infections in Healthcare Personnel, Exposures and Quarantine and Contact Tracing.
What Does Orange Status Mean?
The following guidelines apply to all team members, regardless of vaccination status: 
  • If you have a known COVID-19 exposure but are not experiencing any symptoms, you do not need to quarantine. Report to work and continue to monitor for symptoms.  
  • If you begin to experience any COVID-19 symptoms, do not report to work. Let your manager know as soon as possible, and report your symptoms through the Duke SymMon app (available in both the Apple and Google app stores).
  • Once you have reported a symptom or exposure through SymMon, you should receive an email to your Duke email account within 10 minutes with direction on how and when to schedule a test through MyChart.
  • If you test negative and symptoms improve or resolve, EOHW will clear you to return to work.
  • If you test positive, EOHW will manage your isolation for a minimum of 5 days. EOHW may clear you to return to work on day 6 if you have no symptoms or have mild symptoms that are improving. Upon return to work, employees must wear a well-fitted mask (or an N95 if preferred) during all interactions in the health system through day 10.  
  • If you have questions or need assistance, call the Duke Employee Hotline at 919-385-0429, option 1 (open 5:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily)
Please note: these new guidelines, based on updated CDC recommendations, only apply to employees who have no symptoms or have mild symptoms that are improving. They do not apply to employees with immunocompromised conditions. Employees with moderate to severe symptoms or with certain health conditions will continue to remain out of work for a full 10 days or, in rare circumstances, longer. Do not report to work if you have experienced fever, diarrhea or vomiting in the last 24 hours or if you do not feel well enough to work.

Contact Tracing
Due to the shortened incubation period of the Omicron variant, contact tracing is no longer being conducted. Despite this change in practice, we recommend any COVID-positive employee to notify peers of potential exposures so they can self-monitor for symptoms. Thank you for your patience and understanding regarding this change.

STAFF INCENTIVES TO WORK ADDITIONAL HOURS TO SUPPORT ACCESS TO CARE
As we work through this winter surge, team members with patient-facing responsibilities who are willing to work additional shifts to help cover unanticipated staffing gaps may qualify for added compensation through January 29, 2022. This plan will be administered at the department or unit level as appropriate.
EMPLOYEE WELL-BEING
After almost two years of adjusting and pivoting, we understand these changes to our traditional knowledge and mindsets related to COVID may seem overwhelming. All team members who are experiencing stress, burnout or feelings of anxiety or depression are encouraged to explore resources provided by Duke through the Personal Assistance Service. The Business Health Services program is available for Duke Raleigh Hospital and Wake County-based team members. 
IMPORTANT NEXT STEPS
Stay home if you are not feeling well 
The health of our employees is vital to the continued care we provide our patients and our community. If you are not feeling well, please reach out to your manager and do not report to work. 

Get tested if you are experiencing symptoms 
Omicron is now the dominant variant of COVID-19 across our health system and across the country. With the significant increase in cases, we are working diligently to increase our testing capacity for employees.

Stay informed with news and information  
Join the next DUHS Leadership Virtual Town Hall on Monday, January 3, at 4 p.m. for more information and to hear from leaders about these changes and updates.
Thank you for everything you do to care for our patients, their loved ones and each other.
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.