Safe Patient Care During COVID-19
As one of the nation’s safest medical centers, we go above and beyond state and national standards to protect your health and safety while you receive medical care.
COVID-19 Vaccination for Patients
The COVID-19 vaccine is not widely available to the public, and patient registration for the COVID-19 vaccine is not open at this time. We are working with local, state and federal health agencies and will follow public health guidelines regarding when and how we can broadly distribute vaccine to patients. At this time, we are able to vaccinate only a small number of patients through an automatic lottery. We will share information about the availability of these vaccines through a variety of ways once authorities give us permission to begin patient vaccination on a larger scale. If and when you are eligible to receive a vaccine from us, we will contact you. This outreach will include MyChart messaging, direct patient calls and email notifications. You do not need to contact us to check your eligibility. In the meantime, we’ve developed material to answer many of your COVID-19 vaccine questions.
How to Get Tested for COVID-19
COVID-19 testing is available for those with symptoms of influenza-like illness, however you must be screened before you can be tested. Our providers will determine if you qualify for a test at our curbside testing clinics. Call our screening hotline or complete a MyChart screening questionnaire. Curbside testing is not available without an appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions about Patient Care
Yes. In addition to in-person visits, we are also 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 spaces 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 other medical services. In fact, our clinical teams’ skill in providing the safest level of care was recognized nationally this spring when 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.
First and foremost, if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 — which include fever, muscle and body aches, cough and sore throat — stay at home, self-isolate and rest. You may also be able to be tested for the virus at a curbside testing clinic by going through a telephone triage or electronic screening process.
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. This is particularly important 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.
You’ll need to stay home for 72 hours after you recover.
Testing is available for those with COVID-19 symptoms, which include fever, cough, stuffy nose, sinus pain, difficulty breathing, inability to smell or taste and body aches. However, 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 are eligible 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.
The hospital and emergency room should be used 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. You should also get test for COVID-19.
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.
Patients in need of medical care can continue to travel to UChicago Medicine from states on the city's City of Chicago's emergency travel order quarantine list. However, patients from the city's list of high-risk states may have additional visitor limitations for portions of their hospitalizations.
In our outpatient clinics, patients returning from travel to high-risk states and international travel will continue to receive care in scheduled clinical areas provided they wear masks as required and follow our current policies. All patients will be screened at building entrances and those with COVID-19 symptoms will be referred to our Care Transitions Clinic.
Yes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visitor restrictions are in place at this time. Limited exceptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis. We recommend calling ahead and checking with your patient's clinical team.
These visitation restrictions will continue until our infectious diseases experts, in consultation with state and city public health officials, determine it is safe to resume hospital visitation on a limited basis.
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, our teams use products proven to sanitize rooms in between patients. In addition, there are dedicated staff working in areas where patients with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 are receiving care, which helps limit the spread of the virus.
Yes. Our surgeons 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. Masks with vents are not allowed.
- 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.
Valet parking is available, and the valet team is taking extra safety precautions, including:
- Wearing protective masks and gloves,
- Installing protective seat and floor board covers to all valet vehicles,
- Disinfecting all vehicle touch point,
- Changing gloves and washing hands between parking and delivery of each vehicle, and
- Social distancing throughout the valet process.
Self-parking options in Garages A and B are available. There are also free street parking options on the nearby Midway Plaisance.
We continue to reactivate a number of dining options at the medical center. See below for an update on hours. Please note: food is only available for carry out.
Kitchen at Billings: Monday – Friday, 6:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sky Café: Open 24/7
Au Bon Pain (Mitchell): Open 24/7
Au Bon Pain (Comer): Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Qdoba: Monday – Friday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Central Café: Monday – Friday, 6:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Starbucks: Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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.
- Grieving the loss of a loved one to COVID-19
- Which over-the-counter medications are best for coronavirus symptoms?
- Coronavirus concerns for kids with chronic liver disease
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) and GI symptoms in kids
- 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
- Questions about pregnancy and coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for patients with inflammatory bowel disease