Patient Care during COVID-19
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the Chicago area, we are committed to providing safe in-patient and virtual care to our patients.
How to Get Tested for COVID-19
Testing is available to anyone who has symptoms of influenza-like illness. You must be screened before you can be tested. Call our screening hotline or complete a MyChart screening questionnaire. Our providers will determine if you should be tested at a curbside testing clinic. Curbside testing is not available without an appointment. See our full screening information.
How You Can Help
We are humbled by the generosity of the members of our community who have asked how they can help support our staff and patients. Learn more about how you can help.
Frequently Asked Questions about Patient Care
Yes, we are still seeing non-COVID patients, just in a new way. We are offering video visits, which allow you to see and talk with your provider through the camera on your phone or your computer to assess your condition and discuss a course of treatment. If you have an upcoming appointment with your provider, you may be contacted to set up a video visit. In some cases, we still need to see you in person and, if so, we will do everything to ensure your safety.
Virtual visits are not for emergencies. If you have an urgent medical need, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency department or urgent care facility. All patients who are able should utilize their online patient portal (MyChart or Ingalls Care Connection) to communicate with their care teams.
One unintentional consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many patients have delayed receiving needed care as they followed “stay-at-home” orders.
With the pandemic expected to last for several more months, patients can no longer delay receiving needed care for cancer, heart disease and chronic illnesses, including necessary lab work, imaging and other diagnostic tests.
If you and your physician determine that your condition requires a visit to our medical center in Hyde Park or one of our outpatient clinics for follow-up care or diagnostic testing, such as imaging or blood work, we have implemented a number of new policies to keep you safe. To continue serving all of our patients, UChicago Medicine has gone above and beyond state and national standards to protect patients’ health and safety while they receive medical care.
Absolutely. Your safety and the safety of our staff is our highest priority, and we have implemented a number of practices to ensure you can get the high-quality care you need.
- Our healthcare workers have been fully supplied with highly effective personal protective equipment (PPE) and trained in its use in order to protect our patients and themselves.
- In the hospital and in our clinics, we have dedicated floors and units for treating coronavirus cases that are separate from the general patient population.
- Staff, patients and visitors are required to participate in universal masking to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- All employees and patients are instructed to follow the Centers for Disease and Control guidelines for social distancing of remaining 6 feet apart, including in waiting areas.
- Staff are also minimizing the time patients spend in waiting areas. This means patients will either be brought directly into patient rooms or, at some locations, patients will be checked in by phone in their car and asked to come when their exam room is ready. In the event a waiting room must be used, seats are spaced out to maintain social distancing.
- In addition, clinics are performing the normal check-out process and follow-up scheduling by phone to avoid patients congregating in waiting areas.
We have a long history of continuously enhancing and improving our medical center’s safety systems and protocols. This practice has enabled us to care for patients with COVID-19 safely and effectively while still meeting our community’s needs for a wide range of medical services.
Throughout the pandemic, our clinical teams have continued to provide medically necessary, time-sensitive care to patients for whom a delay in treatment could have been life-threatening.
As we transition back to providing our full array of medical services, we are honored that our clinical teams’ skill in providing the safest level of care was recognized nationally on April 30. The University of Chicago Medical Center was awarded its 17th consecutive “A” grade for patient safety by the healthcare watchdog Leapfrog Group. We are the only medical center in Chicago to have achieved this record of consecutive “A” safety ratings and one of only 32 hospitals nationwide.
Testing is available to anyone who has any of the symptoms of influenza-like illness, which include fever, cough, stuffy nose, sinus pain, difficulty breathing, inability to smell or taste and body aches.
You must be screened by our triage team before you can be tested. To be screened, call our COVID-19 triage hotline or current patients should log in to MyChart to complete a virtual screening questionnaire. Nurses and healthcare providers are staffing the triage lines and will determine if you should schedule an appointment to be tested at a curbside testing clinic.
Curbside testing is not available without an appointment. Drive-up swab collection visits typically take several minutes to complete. You will receive information on how to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms after your visit and will get follow-up phone calls with your test results in one to two days.
Any visitor entering our clinics or hospitals will be screened to ensure they do not have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19. All will be issued a mask if they are not already wearing one and will be expected to wear their mask properly while on the medical campus.
Hospital Visitor Restrictions
- To protect patients and staff, no visitors are being allowed at the University of Chicago Medical Center and Ingalls Memorial Hospital because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- Exceptions apply only to pediatric patients who may be accompanied by one adult or guardian, as well as patients who are actively in labor, who may be accompanied by one support person. All support people must remain in the care room with the accompanied patient until that patient has been discharged. Meals will be provided to these visitors.
- No visitors under the age of 18 or persons with cold or flu-like symptoms are allowed. Support persons accompanying those in labor will not be admitted to the OR if the person in labor requires a cesarean delivery (C-section). Antepartum (high-risk) patients will also not be allowed a support person, in order to best ensure their health and safety.
Outpatient Clinic Visitor Restrictions
- Visitors who must accompany ambulatory patients to provide transportation or other assistance will be required to remain in safe waiting spaces, such as their cars or a designated area that allows for appropriate social distancing, while the patient is receiving care.
We will continue restrictions on visitation until our infectious diseases experts, in consultation with state and city public health officials, determine it is safe to resume allowing hospital visitation on a limited basis. Visitor restrictions are being evaluated at an ongoing basis. Stay up to date on the full visitor policy changes.
No. Visits to the grocery store, pharmacy and medical center, among others, are considered essential and remain open.
All clinical care areas are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after every patient encounter. This has been UChicago Medicine’s practice long before the COVID-19 pandemic because of our commitment to providing the safest patient environment.
In addition to keeping the entire medical center clean, EVS team uses products proven to sanitize rooms in between patients. In addition, there are dedicated EVS staff in areas dealing directly with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients and testing to ensure a constant presence and to limit the spread the virus outside of those areas.
These spaces include cohorted inpatient floors, DCAM’s outpatient testing area, the Mitchell Hospital testing facility, and the adult and pediatric emergency rooms.
Yes. Our surgical specialties are offering virtual video and telephone visits to help you plan for upcoming operations, answer your questions and prepare you for in-person visits to the medical center. Use the below link to find more information on each surgical specialty area.
To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, UChicago Medicine has created special inpatient units and an outpatient clinic for treating these patients. These are located in separate areas of the hospital and our medical campus. This physical separation of COVID-19 patients from other patients who need medical care is important to the prevention of any inadvertent spread of the virus. Patients who have COVID-19 or are under investigation for the disease are being cohorted on designated floors or areas, and they are in specially designed negative-pressure rooms.
Patient Testing at our Hospitals
- All inpatients in the University of Chicago Medical Center or UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial community hospital will be tested to screen for possible infection with the COVID-19 virus, whether or not they have any symptoms of infection.
- All patients who need emergency care in our emergency departments or outpatient urgent care centers will be offered testing to screen for possible infection.
- All outpatients coming for surgery or any other medical procedure will be tested to screen for possible COVID-19 infection.
Patient Testing at our Outpatient Clinics
- Higher-risk patients coming for ambulatory care appointments may also be tested.
- All outpatients coming for doctor’s appointments will be screened for fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 upon entering a UChicago Medicine facility.
All UChicago Medicine healthcare workers will continue to be closely and actively monitored for any signs of illness and, if symptomatic, will be tested and restricted from work until it is safe for them to return.
UChicago Medicine is adhering to universal masking practices for all patients, visitors and staff.
- All patients are required to wear a face mask at all times. They will be issued a face mask upon entrance to our facilities if they do not have one of their own. It is highly recommended for patients to wear masks on their way to any of the UChicago Medicine locations.
- All visitors are required to wear a face mask at all times. They will be issued one upon entrance to our facilities if they do not have one of their own.
- All healthcare workers, non-clinical support staff and all other UCM employees are required to wear a face mask at all times in all locations of our hospitals and clinics, including parking garages and outdoor spaces on our medical campuses.
Social Distancing Requirements
- All healthcare workers, non-clinical support staff and all other employees are required to practice social distancing and maintain a distance of 6 feet from each other unless they are wearing a full complement of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and are delivering care to a patient.
- All patients and visitors are required to practice social distancing while in our clinics and hospitals.
- Waiting rooms have been rearranged so that chairs are 6 feet apart.
- Patient check-ins and check-outs are now being done remotely.
- When possible, patients are asked to wait in their cars until they are called on their cellphone for their appointment. Patients will then be escorted directly to the exam room, bypassing the waiting room.
A limited number of dining options are available to patients at the Hyde Park campus. The Kitchen at Billings in the basement of Mitchell Hospital is open during normal hours, and the SKY Café in the Center for Care and Discovery is open 24/7 with a limited menu.
The Kitchen at Billings
- Serves freshly prepared breakfasts and lunches. Features comfort and healthy favorites, including made-to-order sandwiches and salads, burgers, home-style entrees, pizza and Mr. Pak’s sushi.
- Located in the basement, near the “D” elevators
- Hours: Monday through Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: Closed
- Serves freshly prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner. Features a wide selection of comfort and healthy favorites, including made-to-order omelets, sandwiches, salads and burgers. Weekly hot meal specials are provided. Peet’s Coffee is also available, as well as made-to-order smoothies.
- Located in the Sky Lobby (seventh floor)
- Hours: Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Some of our locations are not accepting new patients or have temporarily limited their services. If you have a previously scheduled appointment or questions, call 773-702-1220 to check the status of your visit.
- The Orthopaedic team is seeing adult and pediatric patients at an interim space at Comer Children’s. They plan to re-open their locations at DCAM, South Loop and Orland Park sometime in May.
- Orland Park and River East locations are open for patients requiring an urgent visit. Non-urgent visits are being conducted virtually. Specialties with in-person clinics include Primary Care, Orthopaedics, Oncology and Women’s Health.
- South Loop
- River East non-urgent services
- Schererville, Indiana
- Pulmonary Function testing at the Occupational Medicine clinics is temporarily suspended.
If you are experiencing mild-to-medium symptoms of COVID-19 — which include fever, muscle and body aches, cough and sore throat — stay at home, self-isolate and rest.
Monitor your temperature and drink plenty of fluids. Continue to wash your hands often, disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home and stay away from other people as much as possible. If your condition worsens, reach out to your doctor — ideally by calling or messaging them through your MyChart account — for advice.
You’ll need to stay home for 72 hours after you recover.
Contact a doctor if you experience more severe symptoms, are over 60, or have additional health issues. People with hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes, who have weak immune systems, who smoke, with underlying lung disease, or who take medicines to suppress their immune systems because they have cancer or an autoimmune condition are at higher risk for COVID-19.
Contact a doctor if you’re experiencing the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Constant or severe abdominal pain
- Unable to keep food and liquids down
If any of these symptoms are severe, you should go to an emergency room. If you are over 60 and have other chronic medical problems, consider contacting an emergency room even if you have less-severe symptoms of COVID-19.
The hospital and emergency room should be used only by people who are concerned about life-threatening symptoms, such as trouble breathing and chest pain. If you’re just a little bit sick, the best thing you can do is self-isolate and try to keep the virus from spreading to others.
If you are over 60 and have other chronic medical problems in addition to less-severe symptoms of the virus, you should consider contacting your doctor to see if they recommend you go to the emergency room.
Across the country, public health officials are concerned that the so-called “worried well” (those with less severe cases or who aren’t sick at all) will clog hospitals and emergency rooms. That takes resources away from sick patients and risks spreading germs to others who haven’t yet been exposed.
If you need to see a doctor or go to an emergency room because you have COVID-19 symptoms, contact your physician or local hospital immediately and tell them you are coming. They will arrange to care for you while also protecting those around you from possible spread of coronavirus.
Also, remember that it is safe to go to the doctor for medical issues unrelated to the coronavirus. Do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your health.
Hi. I'm Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Chicago Medicine.
First of all, thank you, because your social distancing has given us the time and space that we need to take care of COVID-19. Along the way, we've also been safely taking care of patients with non-COVID-related urgent conditions, because there's more to health than just COVID-19.
You can't delay care forever, and you don't need to. We have video visits, so some people can get care without ever leaving their home. And at University of Chicago Medicine and Comer Children's Hospital, we've gone above and beyond to keep everyone safe, through expanded testing, social distancing, separated COVID units, and the strict use of personal protective equipment.
We've ensured our medical campus is one of the safest places in this city, because your health and the health of your loved ones is our first priority. Together, we can continue to make thousands of differences.
Condition-Specific COVID-19 Information from Our Experts
The following COVID-19 articles are written by our specialists and are specific to their areas of expertise.
- Coronavirus and mental health: How to cope with stress and fear during quarantine
- What heart disease patients should know about coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for stroke survivors, neurology patients and caregivers
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers