The COVID-19 Vaccine


+ COVID-19 Vaccine - General Information
+ Why should I get vaccinated?

Vaccines are our most powerful tool for ending the COVID-19 pandemic. By getting vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and your family, coworkers, and community and also the patients we serve.

+ Are the COVID-19 vaccines approved by the FDA?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for two vaccines for the prevention of COVID-19: the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The EUAs allow these two vaccines to be given to people to prevent them from getting sick with COVID-19 while the vaccines continue to be studied in large research studies with tens of thousands of people.

+ What is an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)?

During a public health emergency, the FDA can issue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to allow new medicines or vaccines to be used immediately to treat or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases while research studies about the vaccines are still ongoing. For more information, see the FDA’s fact sheet on Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines.

+ Do I still need to wear a mask or practice social distancing after being vaccinated?

Both vaccines are very effective at preventing people from getting sick from COVID-19, but we do not know yet if they also prevent people who are vaccinated from spreading the virus to other people. Even as more NYC Health + Hospitals staff and New Yorkers get the COVID-19 vaccine, we must continue to wear masks, wash our hands frequently, and practice social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our coworkers, patients, families, and communities.

+ Will staff who have received the vaccine still need to quarantine after traveling out of state or the country?

While NYC Health + Hospitals does not restrict employee travel, we urge all New Yorkers to avoid nonessential travel. Regardless of vaccination status, employees who travel out of state or the country must have a negative COVID-19 test before returning to work. Employees who have traveled must use annual leave or compensatory time to cover time off for testing and while awaiting results. Staff must submit their negative test results to Occupational Health Service (OHS) and their supervisor before returning to work.

+ COVID-19 Employee Vaccination Program at NYC Health + Hospitals
+ Is the vaccine mandatory for NYC Health + Hospitals employees?

Vaccination is not mandatory for employees. But because this virus is so contagious and dangerous, we hope that all staff take advantage of this opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones.

As more vaccine doses become available and more New Yorkers are eligible to be vaccinated, it may become difficult for NYC Health + Hospitals employees to get an appointment to be vaccinated. We encourage you to get vaccinated now while the available doses are reserved for healthcare workers and other high-risk groups.

+ Will NYC Health + Hospital employees have to pay to get the vaccine?

All NYC Health + Hospitals employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine for free.

+ What is the plan for vaccinating all NYC Health + Hospitals staff?

NYC Health + Hospitals is committed to providing the vaccine to all staff who want to re-ceive it. You can learn about updates to staff vaccination plans through the weekly COVID-19 webinars, COVID-19 vaccine update emails, and on the COVID-19 Resource Hub.

+ Which employees can get vaccinated at NYC Health + Hospitals now?

Currently, staff who work in person at any of our sites can be vaccinated. Check here for the latest eligibility criteria.

+ How can NYC Health + Hospitals employees get the vaccine?

If you are currently eligible, visit the COVID-19 vaccination scheduler to make an appointment to get vaccinated at your facility. If you need help scheduling your appointment or do not have access to a computer, call 646-614-4001. If you work in one of our post-acute care facilities, you will be contacted by our pharmacy partner about how to make an appointment and which days they will be coming to your facility to vaccinate both staff and our nursing home residents.

+ How do I reschedule my vaccination appointment?

To reschedule your appointment, you must first cancel your appointment and then schedule a new one.

To cancel your appointment, log in to your NYC H+H MyChart account, open the appointment details, and click Cancel Appointment. You may cancel online up until 12 hours before your appointment. If your appointment is within 12 hours, call 646-614-4001.

If you do not have a MyChart account, you will need to contact the call center (646-614-4001) and have an agent cancel your appointment. You must do this before you schedule a new ap-pointment.

To schedule a new appointment, launch the COVID-19 Vaccination Scheduler and follow the instructions to book a new appointment. Read this tip sheet.

If you need technical assistance or are receiving an error when using the COVID-19 Vaccination Scheduler, contact the Enterprise Service Desk at 1-877-934-8442 or EnterpriseServiceDesk@nychhc.org.

If you need help rescheduling your appointment, call 646-614-4001.

+ COVID-19 Vaccine Safety
+ Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Both COVID-19 vaccines were tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people to make sure they are safe and effective in protecting adults of all ages, races, and ethnicities. There were no serious safety concerns. CDC and the FDA are continuing to monitor the health of people who received the vaccines to learn about any potential safety issues.

+ The vaccines were developed very quickly. How can we be sure they are safe?

There are a few reasons the COVID-19 vaccines were able to be developed so quickly.

  • Given the unprecedented public health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were groundbreaking collaborations between medical experts and researchers across the world.
  • Researchers have been studying coronaviruses for decades, so they were able to get to work quickly on developing the COVID-19 vaccine once the genetic code of the virus that causes COVID-19 was understood.
  • The COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines. While this is a new type of vaccine, re-searchers have been studying and working on mRNA vaccines for decades, so they were able to develop a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine quickly based on prior research.
  • mRNA vaccines can be produced faster than traditional vaccines, and manufacturing was started while the clinical trials were still underway, so hundreds of thousands of doses were available immediately after FDA authorized their use.
  • · Because of the urgency of COVID-19 pandemic, both the FDA and CDC made the re-view and approval of COVID-19 vaccines their highest priority.

Every phase of every clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccines was reviewed carefully to make sure that the vaccines are safe and effective.

+ Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID-19?

No. Neither of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available contain the virus that causes COVID-19, so they cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

+ What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

All vaccines produce some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protec-tion. Common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are pain and swelling in the arm where you got the vaccine, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. For more information on what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/vsafe.

+ Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have an existing medical condition or health concerns?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people with existing medical conditions, but you should talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about getting vaccinated because of any health conditions you may have.

+ Are there medical reasons to delay getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

You should wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine if any of the following situations apply to you.

  • If acutely ill with COVID-19, you should wait to get the vaccine until you are fully recovered and you have completed your period of isolation.
  • If you have received monoclonal antibody therapy or convalescent plasma for COVID-19 infection, you should wait at least 90 days to get the vaccine.
  • If you have received another vaccine (e.g., flu, shingles), you should wait at least 14 days to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions about whether or when you should get the COVID-19 vaccine.

+ How is the safety of these new vaccines being monitored?

There are several vaccine safety monitoring systems in place to watch for possible unexpected side effects (also known as adverse events) of approved and authorized vaccines. If there are any unexpected adverse events, medical experts immediately study it further to figure out if it is related to the vaccine. Experts then decide whether changes in recommendations are needed. This monitoring is critical for making sure that benefits of any vaccine are greater than any associated risks.

+ How do I report a problem or bad reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

You can report any unexpected side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is run by CDC and the FDA to monitor the safety of all vaccines. This national system collects and analyzes information on side effects to identify any that are unexpected or happening more often than expected. Learn about the difference between a vaccine side effect and an adverse event. Reports to VAERS help CDC monitor the safety of vaccines. Safety is a top priority.

+ What is v-safe?

CDC has launched a new smartphone-based tool called v-safe to check in on people’s health after they receive a COVID-19 vaccine. When you receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you will receive information on how to enroll in v-safe. If you enroll, you will receive regular text messages that will take you to a survey where you provide information on how you are feeling and if you have had any problems or adverse reactions after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. V-safe also provides second vaccine dose reminders and follows up with people by phone if they report a serious adverse event after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about v-safe here.

+ COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness
+ How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine? Is one vaccine better than another?

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines are incredibly effective. In clinical trials, two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech was shown to be 95% effective, while two doses of the Moderna vaccines was shown to be 94% effective at preventing COVID-19.

+ How long does immunity from the COVID-19 vaccines last? Do we have to be vaccinated for COVID-19 every year?

Both the Pfizer-Bio-NTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing COVID-19. But we don't know yet how long these vaccines provide protection and if people will need to get vaccinated again after the first two doses.

+ Is it better to get natural immunity to COVID-19 rather than immunity from a vaccine?

No. People who get COVID-19 can get severely ill or die, and some people have debilitating symptoms that last for months. Some people who have recovered from COVID-19 have also got-ten sick with COVID-19 again.

While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection lasts. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19.

+ Why do I need to get two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Most vaccines require two doses. The first dose helps the immune system recognize the virus, and the second dose strengthens the immune response and builds a high level of protection. You need to get both doses of COVID-19 vaccines to get the high level of protection found in clinical trials.

+ How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine after just one dose?

Both the Moderna and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines were studied and evaluated for effectiveness after two doses. You must get both doses to be protected against COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 and the Moderna vaccine is 94% effective in preventing COVID-19, but only when both doses are taken.

Depending on the specific vaccine you get, you will need to get a second dose 3-4 weeks after your first dose so your body can build the high level of protection the vaccine has been shown to provide.

+ When should I get the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

For the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the second dose should be given after 21 days. For the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the second dose should be given 28 days after the first dose. When you receive your first COVID-19 vaccination, an appointment will be scheduled for you to return at the right time for your second dose. Second doses need to be administered at the same facility where you received your first dose.

+ Can I get different brands of COVID-19 vaccine for my first and second dose?

No. When your appointment is made for your second dose, it will be for the same brand of vaccine that you got for your first dose. The safety and effectiveness of getting two different brands of COVID-19 vaccines have not been studied.

+ Other COVID-19 Vaccine Questions
+ If I currently have COVID-19, can I get vaccinated?

If you currently are infected with COVID-19, you should wait to get the vaccine unit after you have recovered and have completed your period of isolation. Check with your physician about when to receive the vaccine. If you do not have a regular physician, call 646-614-4001 to speak with a healthcare provider.

+ If I get sick or test positive for COVID-19 after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, should I get the second dose?

If you become infected with COVID-19 after receiving your first vaccine dose but before your second dose, you should wait to get your second dose until you have fully recovered from COVID-19 and completed your period of isolation.

+ If I already had COVID-19, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Yes. CDC recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 have gotten sick with COVID-19 again. And although people who have recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies that provide some protection from getting COVID-19 again, we don’t know how long this protection lasts. That’s why it’s important for people who have recovered from COVID-19 to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

+ After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a rapid or PCR viral test?

No. The two available COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the virus that causes COVID-19, so you cannot test positive on rapid or PCR viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection

+ If I am tested for antibodies after I get the COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive? Is there a way to tell the difference between antibodies from COVID-19 infection and from the vac-cine?

When your body receives a vaccine, it produces antibodies. It is possibly that you may test posi-tive on some COVID-19 antibody tests. We are still learning about the antibodies that the body produces after getting the COVID-19 vaccine and how they affect antibody testing results.

+ What percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve ‘herd immunity’?

We don’t know exactly what percentage of people need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immun-ity to COVID-19.

Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease, usually through vaccination. This makes the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community is protected — not just those who are immune. Vaccines create immunity without causing illness. The percentage of people that need to be immune to achieve herd immunity varies by disease. The more contagious a disease is, the greater proportion of the popu-lation that needs to be immune to stop its spread.

+ Where can I learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines?

NYC Health + Hospitals’ COVID-19 Resource Hub Vaccination Information page contains educational resources for health care providers and is updated frequently.

Have more questions? Want more details about the NYC Health + Hospitals COVID-19 Vaccination Program? Visitbit.ly/hhc-covid-19-feedback-form


+ Preparing for a Possible Second Surge
+ Are we experiencing a second wave of COVID-19?

We are working very hard to prevent another wave of COVID-19. We are very concerned about a rising cases and doing all we can to prepare for the possibility. The numbers are still relatively low compared to March and April but continue in a steady uptick. NYC Health + Hospitals is daily closely monitoring data across the city and the health system looking for signals of potential surges to ensure we can be prepared to respond.

+ What is NYC Health + Hospitals doing to prepare for a potential second surge?

Our health system has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic since February 2019. Since the initial surge in April, our Incident Command Team has been preparing for the resurgence of COVID-19 in NYC. This team includes health system and facility operations and clinical leaders who have been meeting regularly to review data trends, discuss guidelines stockpile supplies, expand capacity and ensure we are prepared to respond in the event that we begin to see more patients with COVID. The system has an emergency management “playbook” that outlines clear steps and strategies to expand ED and IU beds, add staff, transport patients from hospitals that experience high demand, etc.

The system is in a strong position to absorb hundreds of additional patients with the current levels of staff, beds and other resources.

+ Will we have sufficient staff, PPE, ED and ICU beds?

NYC Health + Hospitals continues to monitor its supply of surgical masks and N95 respirator masks, and other protective equipment very closely to insure that we can keep our staff safe and deliver safe care to our patients. Our health system currently has a 90+ day supply of PPE and all the equipment and medication needed to handle a potential surge. While experts don’t expect the same demand we experienced in March and April, the health system is prepared to absorb hundreds of additional patients if needed with the current levels of staff, beds and other resources.

+ What is NYC Health + Hospitals doing to increase awareness and training for staff?

Our health system is taking several added measures to ensure staff are well informed and prepared for a potential second wave:


+ Data Monitoring - We are closely monitoring data across the city and the health system to assess the situation and respond. Every day a team of experts including emergency management, data analytics, and health care leaders review data on COVID-19 testing, emergency department visits, hospital admissions, supplies and equipment, and other critical indicators to determine the impact of COVID-19 on our health system and coordinate a timely response.

+ COVID Resource Hub - We have compiled all resources related to COVID-19 in a single location, the COVID-19 Resource Hub. Here you can get information on the latest clinical treatment guidelines; human resource policies related to COVID-19; best practices in infection prevention; illustrations on how to wear PPE to protect yourself and much more.

+ Regular Updates from Leadership - The last updates on Health + Hospitals response to COVID-19 can be seen on the ‘What’s New?’ page of the COVID-19 Resource Hub. This includes routine COVID-19 Update Emails, COVID-19 webinars and townhalls, and COVID-in-a-Minute Videos. Check out these resources for the most recent updates on how NYC Health + Hospitals is responding to COVID-19.

+ Training - We have compiled training and education for frontline staff on how to care for COVID-19 patients, as well as bi-weekly digests of emerging scientific evidence on COVID-19.

+ Remote Work Resources - Working remotely? We have compiled technology tutorials to support staff as they work offsite or physically distanced from one another. Check out these videos on using Jabber, Webex and Sharepoint.

Still have questions about our response to COVID-19 or need help? Reach out to us.

+ What You Can Do to Keep Everyone Safe
+ What can I do to protect myself, my patients and my family?

+ Answer the Point of Entry screening survey before entering any of our patient care sites.
+ Get your flu shot.
+ Wear a mask at all times.
+ Wash your hands often.
+ Practice social distancing.
+ Follow these new safety protocols when using a staff break room.
+ Get tested for COVID-19 regularly (at least once a month).

+ We are anxious to have more staff meetings in person. What are the guidelines we should follow?

Virtual meetings are encouraged. In-person meetings may occur, but staff must follow univer-sal masking, maintain physical distancing, and disinfect high touch surfaces. At clinical sites, staff must wear a surgical or procedure mask, issued by their facility. Consuming food and bev-erage during staff meetings is discouraged and should only occur in dedicated break areas which follow the new safety guidelines [add link].

+ Situation Update
+ What is the case #/positivity rate/hospitalization/death #s for a particular zip code?

The latest data on COVID-19 in New York City can be viewed here

+ Am I in a COVID Zone? Is my health care facility in a COVID-19 zone?

You can see if you live or work in a New York State-designated COVID-19 zone by entering your address in the COVID-19 Zone Finder (WWW.NYC.GOV/COVIDZONE). Use this tool to get in-formed about the proper precautions to take for specific activities.

+ What is the NYS Micro-Cluster Strategy to address COVID-19?

COVID-19 continues to spread in New York City (NYC) with concerning increases in community transmission in certain neighborhoods. New York State (NYS)’s cluster action initiative requires restrictions in zones identified by the State as having increased transmission. Zones can be red, orange or yellow, with each color having different restrictions. To find your zone, visit nyc.gov/covidzone.

See the new rules and restrictions directly target areas with the highest transmission of COVID-19 cases & surrounding communities here.

Read the NYC Department of Health Alert about this here.

+ Is hospital visitation suspended?

New York State Department Health (DOH) has issued a Health Advisory https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/10/congregate_facility_visitation_in_zones_10_23_2020.pdf, effective October 25. This advisory limits visitation in residential congregate care facilities including hospitals, nursing homes and correctional facilities in “red” and “orange” zones https://covidhotspotlookup.health.ny.gov/#/home, as defined by NYS DOH.

All visitation is suspended in residential congregate facilities located in red zones, except for in the following instances: compassionate care (including end of life/hospice situations), medically or clinically necessary (i.e. visitor is essential to the care of the patient), accompanying a minor in a pediatric facility, labor/delivery/post-partum care, necessary legal representatives, and essential companions to individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities or with cognitive impairments, including dementia.

Visitation will be suspended for hospitals, nursing homes or correctional facility in orange zones if a staff member or patient/resident in the facility has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

+ How can I receive critical emergency updates from Health + Hospitals?

NYC Health + Hospitals uses the Everbridge Mass Notification system to send real-time infor-mation and emergency alerts via email, text, office and cell phone. Click here to sign up with your personal contact info to get critical Emergency Alerts from Health + Hospitals. Stay in-formed in case of a potential second surge of COVID-19!

+ How can I get important updates about Health + Hospitals COVID-19 response when I am offsite or not on the network?

When you are not on the network, the COVID-19 Resource Hub can be accessed here. Once you are signed up to the Everbridge Mass Notification system noted above, you will receive emergency alerts directly to any personal phone or email you have registered.

+ PPE Guidance
+ How can I get important updates about Health + Hospitals COVID-19 response when I am offsite or not on the network?

What is the health system doing to ensure staff have access to the proper PPE?

  • Provide masks to all employees. It is important to use the correct type of mask (such as a surgical or procedure mask or N95 respirator) while in specific areas of the hospital, ambulatory areas or post-acute care facility or during certain procedures to ensure you are protected.
  • Replace N95 respirators if damaged or soiled and upon request. If you need a new N95 mask, you will receive one.
  • Ensure direct patient care providers have the proper fitting for their N95 respirator.
  • Provide surgical or procedure masks to all other employees who work in non-clinical areas.

To learn more about what type of mask should be worn in the various health care settings, please refer to the “PPE Grid by Location” located under the PPE Guidance section on the COVID-19 Resource Hub.

+ When should I use a surgical or procedure mask?

A surgical or procedure mask, issued by your facility, must be worn while in the workplace as part of universal masking. Cloth masks or face coverings with valves should not be worn in the clinical work settings - specifically our acute care, post-acute care, ambulatory sites or any of our sites where patient care is provided. Regardless of role, everyone working in a clinical care site must wear a facility-issued surgical or procedure mask.

Cloth masks may only be worn in non-clinical administrative sites (e.g., 125 Worth, 50 Water, 55 Water and 160 Water).

+ When should I use an N95 respirator?

You should wear an N95 respirator when present during an aerosol generating procedure and when Airborne Precautions are necessary. You must be fit tested to wear an N95 respira-tor.

+ When should I NOT Use an N95 respirator?

N95 respirators do not need to be used when practicing Droplet Precautions, as a surgical or procedure mask will suffice.

+ What kind of protective gown and gloves should I use when caring for a patient with COVID-19?

An isolation gown, or gown that is provided by your facility materials management department, along with standard gloves in your appropriate hand size should be used when caring for a con-firmed or suspected COVID-19 patient. Extended cuff gloves may be used if available but are not mandatory.

+ How can I get PPE?

Contact your department lead or supervisor if you have questions or concerns regarding obtain-ing PPE.

+ I have other questions about PPE, who can help?

Contact your facility Infection Prevention and Control Department.

+ If You Have Symptoms or Have Possibly Been Exposed
+ What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu?

If you have symptoms of either COVID-19 or the flu, please notify your local Occupational Health Service (OHS).  If you work for the health system’s Central Office, you should contact Reba Williams in Central Office OHS. If you have a primary care provider, you should notify them as well.

+ What should I do if I have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19?

If you have been exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19, you should contact your local Occupation Health Service. You may receive a call from the NYC Test & Trace Corps, if some-one listed you as a contact. You should start a 14-day quarantine and get tested for COVID on day 4 of the quarantine; however, even if your test is negative, you will need to quarantine for 14 days.

+ What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19, please inform your OHS. You will receive a call from the NYC Test & Trace Corps who will give you guidance. You should also notify your primary care pro-vider, if you have one.

+ Will I have access to a free hotel if I need to quarantine?

Yes, hotel services are available to anyone who needs to quarantine or isolate and cannot do so at home.

+ COVID-19 Testing
+ How can I get tested?

You can be tested at any NYC Health + Hospitals testing site and showing your ID for expedited testing. In addition, you can go to any NYC testing site (nyc.gov/covidtest or call 311 for the testing site closest to your home).

+ Where can I get a COVID test?

There are hundreds of locations across the city. You can be tested by presenting to any NYC Health + Hospitals testing site and showing your ID for expedited testing. Visit this site for a complete list of testing locations: : https://www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/get-tested/covid-19-testing.page

Additionally, NYC Health + Hospitals  lists all of the mobile testing sites and pop-up sites on this website. It changes weekly to reflect the schedule:
https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/covid-19-testing-sites/?redirect&notification

+ Where are rapid tests available?

NYC rapid care tests are offered by certain NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Sexual Health clinics by appointment. Schedule your appointment here: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-rapid-testing.page

+ What hours are testing sites open?

Testing sites are open 7 days per week. Hours vary by testing site. Check the hours here (https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/covid-19-testing-sites/?redirect&notification)

+ Can you make an appointment for testing or is it walk-in only?

NYC Health + Hospitals testing sites are walk-in only. There are limited appointments for pa-tients having procedures/surgeries. Other testing locations across the city may require ap-pointments.

+ Are there special testing sites for employees separate and apart from the public sites?

Health + Hospitals staff are prioritized for testing at our acute care hospitals and Gotham Health sites. There is typically a separate line for staff. However, if there is not a separate line forming for staff, please go to the front of the line and present your employee identification for expedited testing. Look for this sign for the staff testing line.

For NYC Health + Hospitals testing sites, you can check test wait times here. Click the orange "Check Testing Wait Times" button.

+ How quickly will I get results? How will I be informed?

Results at NYC Health + Hospitals testing sites are typically available within 48 hours of the test. The quickest way to get results is through a MyChart account. Alternatively, if one signs the electronic communications consent form, you will receive a text message with your result, after you confirm your date of birth. If you don’t have a MyChart account or a signed electronic communications consent, you will receive a call from the NYC Health + Hospitals with the re-sults.

+ What is the turnaround time for test results? How are you ensuring quick turn arounds?

Results at NYC Health + Hospitals testing sites are typically available within 48 hours of the test. We have expanded our laboratory testing capacity to ensure quick turnaround times.

+ Is testing free? Is there a co-pay associated with testing?

There are no co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses for testing at NYC Health + Hospitals. However, if you have insurance, we will bill your insurance.

+ Is testing free at H+H sites, even if I am asymptomatic? Is there a limit to the number of free tests I can get?

Testing is free, even if you are asymptomatic. NYC Health + Hospitals recommends monthly testing for its staff involved in patient care or working on patient care units/clinics. There is no limit to the number of COVID-19 test you may get.

+ I received a bill for my test. Do I have to pay it?

If you receive a bill from a NYC Health + Hospitals testing site, please reach-out to the Finance Department at your facility. You do not need to pay for COVID-19 testing.

+ How often should I get tested?

NYC Health + Hospitals recommends monthly testing for staff involved in patient care or work-ing on patient care units/clinics.

+ Is the monthly test mandatory?

No, monthly testing is voluntary.

+ With the flu season upon us, should all the staff get tested for COVID-19 once they have flu like symptoms?

If you have flu-like symptoms, you should get both a flu test and a COVID test.

+ I live or work in a COVID-19 zone. Should I be tested?

If you have not had a positive COVID-19 test in the past 90 days, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends you be tested immediately. Monthly testing is recommended for settings or occupations with increased risk of exposure. Testing is voluntary.

+ Should staff who have traveled back from other states or countries be tested?

Yes, all staff returning from another country or out-of-state travel should be tested for COVID-19 in compliance with NYS’ Travel Advisory. See more on the return to work policy here.

+ Should staff who recovered from COVID-19 be tested at any time?

Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 should not have a repeat test for 90 days un-less they develop new symptoms.

+ What should I do if I test positive for COVID?

If you test positive for COVID-19, please contact your local Occupational Health Service (OHS). OHS will guide employees through testing, contact tracing, and quarantine and return to work as applicable. If you have a primary care provider, you should notify them as well.

+ What are the different types of COVID-19 tests? Are there different ways of testing?

There are two different types of tests: diagnostic tests and serologic (antibody) tests. A viral diagnostic test tells you if you have a current infection. Currently there are two types of diagnostic tests– molecular tests, such as RT-PCR tests, that detect the virus s genetic material, and antigen tests that detect specific proteins from the virus. A serologic or antibody test might tell you if you had COVID-19 in the past.
Watch Dr. Wallach’s COVID-in-a-Minute video to learn more about testing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6cejmRxSaw&feature=youtu.be).

+ When will antigen testing be available to staff?

Currently, rapid antigen testing is only available at our pop-up testing sites.

+ Are we testing all patients for COVID?

All patients admitted to the hospital undergo COVID-19 testing.

+ What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

You will be notified of your test results either by MyChart or by a telephone call. You will be instructed to call Occupational Health Services (OHS) at your facility. You will also receive a telephone call from the NYC Test & Trace Corps to determine your contacts outside of work.

+ Who will be notified about my test results?

You alone will get your test results, along with your care team so that they can use the infor-mation to best serve you as a patient. Neither your supervisor nor OHS nor Human Resources will be notified of your result without your consent.

+ Contact Tracing and Quarantining
+ What is the protocol for employee contact tracing?

Occupational Health Service (OHS) is responsible for employee contact tracing. Employees who have a positive COVID-19 test or believe they have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 should contact their facility OHS. When available, the employee must provide OHS with proof of testing (Test result/Doctor’s note). OHS will guide employees through testing, contact tracing, and quarantine and return to work as applicable.

If through the course of contact tracing, OHS learns of additional staff who have been exposed to individuals with COVID-19, they will reach out to affected employees and arrange testing and follow up.

+ Return to Work Policy and Telecommuting
+ What is the policy on returning to work after I travel to another country or state with high COVID rates?

NYC Health + Hospitals does not restrict employee travel. However, the advice for all New Yorkers is to avoid nonessential travel to affected areas.

All staff returning from another country or out-of-state travel must have a negative COVID test before returning to work. Employees will use their annual leave or comp time to cover the pe-riod of testing and awaiting results. Staff must submit results to OHS and their Supervisor.

Read the latest travel guidance from NYS at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory.

+ Who can telecommute? Who determines if I can telecommute?

Although most health care workers are considered essential employees who must stand ready to serve on the front lines of care during a public health crisis, some NYC Health + Hospitals workers may be allowed to serve and support the health system remotely with approval of their leadership and Human Resources. No employees can self-designate themselves as telecommut-ing, including Central Office staff.

Facility CEOs and department heads determine determines eligibility regarding telecommuting due to COVID-19.  Read the Telecommuting policy (http://hhcinsider.nychhc.org/sites/COVID-19/SiteDocuments/Employee Leave Policy/COVID-19 Telecommuting_3.16.pdf). This new policy ensures a coordinated, well-orchestrated approach to permit eligible employees the option to telecommute, and at the same time ensure every facility has the staff resources in place to provide the safe, quality care New Yorkers need more than ever.

+ Can I telecommute while on quarantine?

Yes, with the approval of your department you may telecommute if your health permits you to continue working remotely.

+ Time and Leave Policies during COVID-19
+ Have time and leave policies been modified for COVID-19?

During this past year, our staff have shown their resilience in meeting the ever increasing needs of our patients. Interim time and leave related rules have been issued for NYC Health + Hospitals employees. See the memo here.

+ I did not use my holiday time or floating holiday during 2020. Will I lose this time?

For staff entitled to accumulate Holiday Time, use of Floating Holiday time shall not expire in December 2020. Instead, any holiday time that was not used during 2020 shall be rolled over for use until December 31, 2021.

+ I worked a lot this year in response to COVID-19. I accumulated annual leave above the cap of what can be carried over. Will I lose this annual leave or will it convert to sick leave? Do I need to submit a request for a waiver to carry it over to 2021?

Staff who have accumulated annual leave in excess this year, are hereby given a waiver until April 30, 2022, to elect to use such accrued time. Therefore, staff’s annual excess annual leave will not convert to sick leave and written requests are not required.

+ I haven't been able to use compensatory time (comp time) this year. Will I lose the comp time I've accumulated?

For staff entitled to accumulate Compensatory Time, use of accrued Compensatory Time shall not expire in December 2020. Any unused Compensation Time shall remain accrued until December 31, 2021.

+ What’s the time/leave policy for staff who have to quarantine and cannot work?

It depends on why the employee is quarantining. If the employee is quarantining upon returning from voluntary travel from a restricted area, the employee must use their own accrued paid (sick or annual) leave or go without pay if the employee has no accrued paid leave. If after testing the employee receives a negative result, the employee may consult with OHS about returning to work. If the employee receives a positive result, they must follow OHS Infection Control guidelines about remaining off from work and with the permission of the local Human Resources director, may code time records 17 to be paid for the absence.

+ If I have COVID-19 and am out of work, does the time come out of my sick or personal leave? Will I get paid sick leave? What if I don’t have enough sick leave balance?

The pay for employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 depends upon whether the employee is a Health Care Provider and how long the employee remains ill. Infection Control guidelines, managed by OHS, requires the employee to consult with the local Human Resources Director about paid sick leave. If the employee has consulted with OHS and local HR, the employee may be able to use Code 17 for a portion of the time the employee is ill and absent from work.

Once the employee has exhausted all pay under Infection Control procedures, the employee must then request a leave of absence through HRSS Leaves and the type of leave for which the employee qualifies will determine the pay, but most likely the employee will need to use the employee’s accrued paid leave to receive pay for an extended absence due to illness.

To request an extended leave of absence, employees may obtain forms from the Leaves of Absence section of the Employee Resource Center and submit completed forms and medical documentation to HRSSLeavesOfAbsence@nyc.org.

+ COVID-19 Treatment
+ How do we treat COVID patients? What medications are we administering?

There are two main categories of our treatment for patients with COVID infection.

First, is supportive care. The goal here is to mitigate symptoms and organ damage while the viral syndrome runs its course. For mild cases, this might mean doing things like treating fe-vers and muscle aches. For moderately ill patients, interventions like oxygen or special posi-tioning may be needed. For the most severe cases, life support may be required. This can in-clude things like a ventilator to support the lungs and dialysis to support the kidneys.

The second big category of treatment is to use medications to either kill the virus or reduce its effect on the body. Remdesivir is a drug that could theoretically prevent the virus from repli-cating in our bodies. Steroid drugs, like dexamethasone, may reduce the inflammation that the virus causes when it infects the lungs. Antibody treatments like convalescent plasma and monoclonal antibody could potentially neutralize the virus and allow our immune system to clear it.

It is very important to recognize that none of these treatments prevent infection and none would be considered a “cure” for the disease. These treatments are for patients who have al-ready have symptomatic infection, and are predominantly for patients sick enough to require hospitalization. Among those patients, these treatments may slightly reduce the likelihood of requiring life support or slightly increase the pace of recovery from the disease.

For this reason, our best weapon against this disease is to prevent infection in the first place and to limit spread when infections do occur. We achieve this by avoiding crowded settings, socially distancing, wearing masks, and getting tested if there is any concern for exposure or new symptoms.

+ Influenza Vaccination
+ Where can I get a flu shot?

Contact your flu coordinator for a schedule and details. Click here to visit the Stop Flu intranet page to find your flu coordinator.

+ Why is it more important than ever to get a flu shot?

Both the flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses, however, they are caused by different viruses. The symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar: fever, cough and shortness of breath. It may be hard to tell the difference between them based on the symptoms alone. Testing is needed to make the right diagnosis. Vaccination against the flu will help lower the risk and severity of the flu.

+ Who should get a flu shot?

The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. Vaccina-tion of people at high risk for flu complications is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness. Many people at higher risk from flu also seem to be a higher risk for COVID-19. If you are at high risk, it is especially important for you to get a flu vaccine this year.

+ Emotional and Psychological Support
+ What is the Battle Buddy Support Program?

The goal of the Battle Buddy Support Program is to provide peer support. The Battle Buddy Support Program is an informal peer-to-peer emotional and psychological support network developed for NYC Health + Hospitals staff.  This voluntary and confidential program matches up NYC Health + Hospitals workforce members across specialties, roles, and locations so that clinical and non-clinical staff can discuss their common experiences, their worries, and their stressors. The Battle Buddy Support Program was created by and evaluated by the US Armed Forces and has shown to have a positive impact on engagement, morale, wellbeing, and has been successful in healthcare settings across the nation. To learn more and sign up for the Battle Buddy Support Program, please click here.​

+ How does it work?

Battle Buddies will voluntarily be paired based on a number of preferences including those related to the workplace (facility, department, role, etc.) and personal preference (gender, race, etc.) if they would like. Buddies will be encouraged to have regular check-ins via their preferred mode of communication. If there are any concerns that arise, the buddy can be referred to Helping Healers Heal or a Licensed Behavioral Health Professional.  Battle Buddies can provide emotional support, an opportunity to process before returning home to families and communities, and even laughter over shared experience.

To learn more and sign up for the Battle Buddy Support Program, please click here.

If you have any questions, comments, or feedback please feel free to reach out to BattleBuddy@nychhc.org.
+ Media Protocols and Patient Privacy
+ What should I do if I get contacted by the media?

As NYC Health + Hospitals continues to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, we expect staff members to be approached by media. Employees have no responsibility to respond, and are not prohibited from responding. However, we strongly suggest that you refer such requests to your public affairs liaison. We prefer to talk to the media in an official, coordinated effort with the Mayor's Office and other city agencies to ensure New Yorkers are receiving the most accurate information and that messages are clear and consistent.

Our goal is to be transparent about the challenges and the realities seen on the front lines, and to explain what strategies and solutions we are implementing to provide the highest quality of care to patients during this difficult time. If you are approached by media, please direct those requests to your public affairs liaison or to our health system press office at PressOffice@nychhc.org. We will coordinate directly with the reporter to provide a response or schedule an interview.

+ What can I do to protect patient and staff privacy during this pandemic?

NYC Health + Hospitals is committed to protecting patient and staff privacy and confidentiality all year round. The current COVID-19 crisis has generated a high volume of requests from news media, and inappropriate use of personal devices to photograph or capture video inside our fa-cilities. We adhere to federal laws that prohibit the unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of patients' protected health information ("PHI"), and photographing or recording patients without their consent.

We know that staff are concerned for the health and safety of their friends and colleagues. However, accessing patient records for purposes other than treating a patient, or as necessary to fulfill official job responsibilities, remains strictly prohibited. In addition, any photography or filming of patients and staff requires express permission of the patients who are the subjects of such photographs. View the OP-240-29 HIPAA Privacy Policy – Patient Photography and Record-ing.

These Frequently Asked Questions clarify the policies and practices in place that all NYC Health + Hospitals workforce members – including affiliate staff, temporary personnel, and volunteers – must follow to protect patient and staff privacy, and the standards of professional conduct expected from our workforce as it relates to use of social media and media appearances.

For more information, visit the COVID-19 Resource Hub on NYC Health + Hospitals Intranet. If you are not on the network, you can access the COVID-19 Resource Hub here. If you have questions not answered here, please submit them here.




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