Dear RVU Family,
Several questions were received after the deadline for the CRT Town Hall. A compilation of the questions and their responses are as follows:
Q. "With the current state of Colorado and Utah, how can you protect us during our competency and labs when we cannot comply with social distancing?"
A. In both the preclinical and clinical environments, we are following best practices for interpersonal interactions, whether with patients or each other. The use of surgical masks, vigilant hand washing, wearing eye protection, and not touching your face. This is what front line health care providers do when caring for patients. Every patient they encounter, especially those with respiratory symptoms, may have COVID-19 but following protocol is effective in protecting them. If you strictly follow our safety protocols, the likelihood of you getting COVID-19 on campus is very low. Unfortunately, nothing in medicine is ever 100% guaranteed.
Q. "With the current state of Colorado and Utah, what is the obstacle that is keeping RVU from moving into a phase yellow now? It seems that you have all the data of how severe our situation is, yet it does not seem to be applied to the students."
A. The 17 members of the CRT make informed decisions based on data, trends, and clinical knowledge – similar to medical decision making. It is true that our local hospitals are reaching surge capacity but have not yet. For example, Dixie Regional Medical Center has 50 ICU beds with 44 COVID-19 hospitalizations; only 13 in the ICU as of 11/11/20. Further, hospitals are not having to resort to crisis care standards at this time. With that said, things can change quickly and the CRT may decide to move to Phase Yellow if necessary.
Q. "Will we not be given a chance to quarantine before going back to our families, some of whom are immunocompromised?"
A. Using the mitigation requirements on campus does not qualify as an “exposure” per local health departments and national guidelines such as those set forth by the CDC. RVU does not impose quarantine unless you have had a true exposure. The decision to self-quarantine yourself to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to your family outside of your household is completely your decision. If you are really concerned about being a SARS-CoV2 carrier, you should seriously consider not going home in order to protect those you are concerned about. We make this comment understanding the weight that it carries. Some CRT members have already made the difficult decision to cancel their Thanksgiving family gathering plans.
Q. "Will the quarantine need to include other people living in our household?”
A. If you had a positive exposure, you should be in quarantine, which also involves being separated from others in the household just in case you become COVID positive. Separation does not mean the residents must leave the household; it means you should be in a separate room and strictly follow all safety guidelines. If you are in isolation because you are COVID positive, then the others in the house should be in quarantine.
For the mandatory January 4 to 18 quarantine when you come back to your home campus/rotation site, you should be separated from others in your household as described above.
Q. “Are there truly no alternatives to having students come onto campus during this time?”
A. The CRT and our curriculum leaders work as dynamic teams to ensure the ongoing safety of our community while maximizing the educational experiences.
Q. “Is RVU taking into account that students will likely be seeing their families over thanksgiving? Not just over winter break. And that the current plan with labs and competency do not give students proper time to quarantine.”
A. Our top priority is to keep the RVU community safe. Your priority should also be to keep your family safe. If you are really concerned about being a SARS-CoV2 carrier, you should seriously consider not going home over Thanksgiving in order to protect those you are concerned about. Everyone needs to make a decision for themselves regarding the risks associated with family gatherings over the holidays.
Q. “How are students to practice OPP if they are unable to gather with fellow students to practice?”, “How does the new Utah mandate affect us needing to practice for competencies outside of scheduled lab time?”
A. The CRT met with the COM curriculum leaders this morning to discuss this challenge. A plan was approved to allow OMM table reservations in the lab areas as part of the study space reservation systems. This will be communicated in separate email.
Q. “Why is RVU not allowing students to have autonomy in their safety? You are actually asking students to pick our education or our safety. This also extends that the risk students are taking is not isolated to just them. Many of us have at risk family members.”
A. RVU has hundreds of students in the clinical years seeing patients on their clinical externship rotations. Those environments are much riskier than our access-controlled campus of asymptomatic people. However, the use of proper PPE and safety precautions are keeping them safe. If these safety measures were not effective, just about every person working in the clinical setting would have COVID-19. The fact is, the highest risk of getting COVID-19 is due to off campus factors. There has been zero transmission of COVID-19 inside our buildings on both campuses. The CRT has implemented many safety measures and has kept our campus environment safe and will constantly monitor and re-evaluate.
COVID-19 Response Team