March 11, 2020
Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
I want to provide you with an update on work that is taking place at Baylor related to the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
Incident Command Center
I have activated the Incident Command Center (ICC) to manage our response to the COVID-19 evolving threat. The ICC is led by Dr. James McDeavitt, our Sr. Vice President and Dean of Clinical Affairs. I have charged this group with developing our current and ongoing institutional efforts to mitigate the impact of this outbreak. The ICC has authority to manage a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the epidemic including: Operations, logistical support, communication, support of our employees, and coordination with affiliates and local government.
Our clinical care teams that are seeing patients in Baylor Medicine clinics or in our affiliated hospitals are trained on how to prevent transmission of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, when caring for patients. I appreciate their dedication to patient care and their diligence in following the strict infection control guidelines. As a reminder, a CME course on COVID-19 was developed at Baylor and is required for all clinical faculty, residents, fellows, and students in all schools.
If You Have Symptoms
If you suspect you have been exposed or have symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty breathing, do not come to work. Contact Occupational Health, call 713-798-7880, or contact your doctor’s office directly. Do not go to the emergency room unless you are experiencing life-threatening issues. Occupational Health and your provider have screening questions they can ask over the phone to determine next steps.
Each person at Baylor also plays an important role in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Of utmost importance is that everyone must practice good hygiene, starting with frequent handwashing. The CDC has created a flyer with details on the ways to prevent the spread of this disease. I encourage you to print this flyer and display it in common workplace areas. You should take the same precautions when you are at home or in social settings. Remember that anyone experiencing symptoms of fever, shortness of breath or coughing should stay home and contact their primary care physician to determine if an office visit is necessary.
Baylor biomedical researchers and physician-scientists, along with their counterparts around the world, are working to understand COVID-19. Their focus is on increasing the speed of diagnosis, preventing the spread of the virus, finding treatments, developing a potential vaccine, and educating the public and elected officials about this virus. Last week, Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School for Tropical Medicine, appeared before a Congressional committee to discuss COVID-19. There is an FAQ video with Dr. Hotez that I encourage you to watch.
I know that many of you have the additional concerns for the well-being of family and friends in Houston and those living in other countries where the virus is widespread or in cities in the United States that are experiencing serious outbreaks. I want you to know that you have the support of your colleagues at Baylor, and I encourage you to use the resources here if you need additional help.
Faculty and staff: Visit the Human Resources Employee Assistance Program or call 713-500-3008 or, outside Houston, 1-866-893-3776.Students in all of our schools: Visit WellConnect or call 866-640-4777, available 24/7.Student and House Staff Mental Health Service: Call 713-798-4881.Any member of the BCM Community: Call 866-342-6892.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO