Dear Colleagues,

I am writing today to raise your attention to the current wave of COVID-19. We put together some concrete information to help navigate this surge in cases, found in Cecelia Theobald’s email of 11.17. I urge you to re-read that email and pay special attention to the contents of any emails that come from her office. This is not a drill. 

With surges in hospital census and increasing challenges caused by our hospital personnel being quarantined either with COVID or because of an exposure, we are needing to adjust expectations. This is not life as normal, so I ask that we all be prepared.

We will expect that providers out on quarantine will continue to see their non-procedure patients via telehealth—this can be conversions to home telehealth or to communicate with the patient who is in the clinic via video or phone with the provider at home. As our patients are increasingly needing to limit their travels, we need to ensure that telehealth options are readily available in general and continue to create new innovative ways to keep everyone healthy.

We need you to be prepared to be called to duty and to be prepared that duty may be in the form of a care partner supporting a nurse or a team of nurses, as a partnering hospitalist, or as an intensivist. Thank you to our cardiology colleagues who have already begun answering this call, particularly Cherie Dahm and the cardiology fellow volunteers. Thank you also to our Department of Pediatrics colleagues who have agreed to take care of some of our younger patients in order to increase capacity. We as consultants will need to be accessible, prompt, and helpful when called to the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for consultation.

In addition to any coverage or backup plan for your activities that your division provides if you do get quarantined or pulled to duty, it is very helpful if you can identify a buddy who is prepared to stand in for you as needed as an additional mechanism of backup. This may include covering clinical activities or coverage for non-clinical duties depending on your role—managing mouse colonies, teaching a class, etc. We did this exercise in the spring, so you probably already have a buddy. Please reach out to your buddy, and be sure that it still makes sense that they could cover in your absence. Remember, if you live with your buddy, that doesn’t work, as they’d likely be quarantined with you. And if you and your buddy are good regarding coverage plans, check in just to make sure they are ok. With the holidays coming and so many not seeing family, this time is especially difficult. We all need our buddies in lots of ways.

Speaking of holidays and speaking of being thankful. With next week being Thanksgiving, we would like to hear from you. Later today all newsletter subscribers will receive a survey. This one is purely optional!  We want to hear from you; in this time of great adversity, what are you thankful for? We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your thoughts next week.

My final thoughts for this morning. I am on service this week (Onc B), having the opportunity to see the wheels in motion. We have an outstanding staff throughout the hospital system, and the level to which they have risen to the occasion is tremendous. We are very lucky to have such genuinely committed individuals to work with, and we should be proud to serve with them. The sacrifices we have seen and the selflessness that is demonstrated over and over in this pandemic are too many to count, but they are each worth recording and I am enduringly thankful.

Stay well, everyone.


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 If you are a Vanderbilt employee or patient with fever, cough, or shortness of breath and are concerned about the coronavirus, call (888) 312-0847 to be assessed. If you become ill while at work, they will direct you to the testing site on campus. Employees will have their tests flagged for rapid resulting as of tests sent this afternoon. 

COVID-19 Public Information Hotline: (877) 857-2945, available daily (10 a.m.-10 p.m.)

* Continue to review myVUMC and the COVID website for institutional information.

* For information on how faculty members can support students in traumatic times, see article published by the Chronicle of Higher Education, "Coping with Coronavirus."
FluLa-2-Uza: Get your flu shot at work!


Check out the new podcast series, "Vanderbilt Health DNA: Discoveries in Action." On Friday, the series was named to Apple’s “Top Shows” in Science podcasts and is still highlighted as “new show” in Science as well as Health/Fitness.

DNA is a 10-episode show that dives into vaccines; technologies and visions shaping how and when people get care; unconscious bias; health equity; imposter syndrome; neurosurgery; COVID-19; the vanguard of imagining the future of inclusive and diverse care and health systems; REDCap, and more.

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Our Mission is to inspire interest in the prevention of disease and the promotion of human health, to cultivate biomedical discovery, and educate tomorrow's leaders for internal medicine. We especially seek those physicians who provide compassionate care while translating new knowledge into meaningful improvements in health outcome.

This application of science to medicine is enhanced by interdisciplinary collaboration, fiscal responsibility, advancement of social and intellectual diversity, commitment to self-learning, and a professionalism dedicated to teamwork and collegiality. These values promote the best interests of internal medicine at Vanderbilt and further strengthen our social contract with the community we serve.

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