At the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, our mission to heal humankind is built on four commitments: to our patients, to our trainees, to discovery, and to our community. Today, during a time of heightened health care disparity caused by COVID-19, keeping that lattermost commitment requires us to approach issues of access, equity and population health with redoubled empathy, long-term thinking and moral courage.
The disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic are profound and far-reaching for many. For the 58,936 unsheltered people living in Los Angeles. For those without running water, health insurance or sufficient incomes. For those living in overcrowded conditions. For the 1 in 5 Angelenos living with disabilities. For the more than 1 in 4 with limited English proficiency. For those isolated in abusive households, at home but unsafe. For the underserved communities with little to no access to health care. For people of color facing longstanding structural inequalities and disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 contraction and mortality. For the impoverished, who are more likely to suffer from diseases that could complicate infections. For hospitals with fewer financial, medical and technological resources. For health care workers carrying out a weighty charge without adequate support or protections.
For these and countless others, a pandemic strikes harder and lasts longer.
While recent federal and state legislation expanding paid sick leave and free COVID-19 testing will help de-escalate some of these swelling disparities, there is always more that we can do to promote equity, save lives and minimize the long-term health and socioeconomic impacts caused by this viral outbreak. As a public institution, and a leader in medical education, research and patient care, we have an intrinsic responsibility to reach beyond our own labs, hospitals, clinics, offices and classrooms, and into the communities we have committed to serve, heal and protect – equitably and to the greatest of our ability.
Doing what’s right is inevitably more challenging during a highly dynamic and isolated time that calls for daily re-evaluation of the most prudent path forward while facing unprecedented resource and logistical strains. But it is not impossible. Over the last several weeks, UCLA faculty, staff and trainees have been working to mobilize a range of community initiatives.
On a statewide level, UCLA is coordinating a multi-stage effort across California to provide critical resources for diverse and underserved communities. To promote access to mental health support, UCLA faculty and fellows from psychiatry, public health, and the National Clinician Scholars Program are supporting the California Department of Health Care Services and the Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission in the development of online resources for diverse populations. The first stage, which focuses on emotional health, went live on April 7.
Locally, faculty from our geriatrics division and the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System are working alongside our LA partners to evaluate our aging services safety net and determine service modifications that will better support under-resourced seniors. At the same time, the UCLA Department of Family Medicine is actively working with city officials to inform the care provided to people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. Across the street, our colleagues in UCLA Health Marketing are advancing a COVID-19 translation effort for patient-education materials to ensure that language barriers do not impede a patient’s ability to stay healthy and safe.
Each of these service collaborations, and the numerous others underway, speaks to the spectrum of what is possible – a spectrum that will only expand with our collective commitment to alter the course of this pandemic and shape the future of our city and world.
Kelsey Martin, MD, PhD
Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
For the latest COVID-19 information and resources pertaining to medical school staff, faculty, students and trainees, please see my fifth biweekly “COVID-19 Update” below. You will find general updates toward the top, followed by area-specific updates and support resources at the bottom.
In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for the use of cloth face coverings, UCLA has issued campus guidance on the topic, strongly recommending that “the Bruin community use face coverings when in public settings, conducting essential work on campus, or entering campus dining facilities or other environments in which it may be difficult to maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet from other people.” Helpful instructions for making your own face covering can be found on this CDC fact sheet (PDF), as well as in this instructional video from the U.S. Surgeon General.
As a reminder, the UCLA Staff and Faculty Counseling Center is available to provide emotional support to UCLA staff and health care workers, as well to their immediate family members or significant others. To schedule a time to talk over the phone, please call 310-794-0245.
A team of UCLA experts from a range of fields, including engineering, data science, clinical medicine, epidemiology, and public health, have launched Stop COVID-19 Together, a new web-based app that will enable the public to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. The site offers a brief survey that covers an individual’s basic demographics, symptoms (or lack thereof) and possible exposure to COVID-19. The system aggregates users’ responses to help UCLA find ways to reduce the spread of the virus and to try to protect the health system from being overloaded. The project is an initiative of the AI in Medicine program at the UCLA Department of Computational Medicine. Learn more // Take the short survey →
Our April 7 all-student virtual town hall can be viewed here →
For additional information on exams, clerkships, volunteer teaching and more, click here. Regular communications from Curricular, Educational and Student Affairs, as well as other information pertaining to students, are updated daily at medschool.ucla.edu/coronavirus-information/md-students. Students should also stay informed by reading any curriculum-update emails distributed by Ashley Siemer, director of curricular affairs.
Contacts: For curriculum questions, please contact Ashley Siemer. For event questions, please contact Brandon Susselman. For support and other questions, please contact your Assistant Dean. For additional support, please reach out to the Behavioral Wellness Center.
COVID-19 testing: For now, all admissions from group homes, skilled nursing facilities, and other facilities will be tested upon arrival at the ED. This is a rapidly developing area. Please stay tuned for updates. Read more here.
Fit testing: While re-testing is not required, UCLA and affiliate sites may be using different types of N95 masks. If you have any concerns, please avail yourselves of this opportunity.
Work spaces: Our survey of work spaces is almost complete. Please let GME know if you feel your current space does not allow appropriate physical distancing.
Face shields: The N95 UV-sterilization project is being expanded. In addition, UCLA volunteers continue to create face shields using 3D-printed headpieces and polycarbonate shields.
Housing: House staff caring for COVID+ patients at all sites may now use Luskin accommodations. All COVID+ health care workers (including house staff) may use UCLA-provided short-term housing. For accommodations, Program Directors should call the Command Center at 310-267-7115. (Supervisors across the health system must contact the Command Center.)
Clinical psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows should follow the guidance from their respective training programs in the Department of Psychiatry and the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
Resources for mental health and well-being (available virtually): medschool.ucla.edu/coronavirus-information/wellness-resources
To view the latest information pertinent to you, visit medschool.ucla.edu/coronavirus-information/graduate-medical-education.
To stay up to date with information pertinent to you – including working remotely, virtual town halls, new clinical research policies, our ramp down of research activities, minimized time in communal lab facilities, and more – visit medschool.ucla.edu/coronavirus-information/phd-trainees and the Graduate Programs for Bioscience website.
Contacts: If you have specific concerns or questions related to your training situation or program requirements, please reach out to your Program/Home Area Director or Greg Payne, GPB Director.
Contacts: If you have specific concerns or questions related to your training situation or work requirements, please reach out to your mentor.?If your mentor is out of reach or you need to escalate a concern above your mentor, please contact Greg Payne or Lynn Talton. If you have further concerns or if issues arise, contact Graduate Division at firstname.lastname@example.org 310-825-3819 and you will be connected with the appropriate resource.
Access wellness resources virtually through the Staff and Faculty Counseling Center.
Clinical psychology postdoctoral fellows should follow the guidance from their respective training programs in the Department of Psychiatry and the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
Funding opportunities: Two recent opportunities for COVID-19-related research include the University of California Research Grant Program's new Emergency COVID-19 Research Seed Funding and Amazon’s $20 million AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative. For those interested in submitting applications to AWS, the DGIT Research Enablement team (DGITResearchEnablement@mednet.ucla.edu) is available to provide support and can help coordinate with AWS reps to facilitate the request process. For additional funding opportunities, visit our COVID-19 website, which is regularly updated with new information on funding streams related to coronavirus research. To report new opportunities, or if you have any questions, please contact Dion Baybridge.
COVID-19 research structure: As previously announced, all COVID-19-related research should be routed through the new Oversight COVID-19 Research Committee (OCRC), chaired by Dr. Owen Witte, Director of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center. The Committee comprises five task forces with deep expertise in clinical research, basic science research, biospecimen use, high-containment use, and health data oversight. Email COVID19Research@mednet.ucla.edu with all queries and requests related to COVID-19 research at DGSOM, and cc the chair of the most relevant Task Force.
To stay up to date with information pertinent to you, visit medschool.ucla.edu/coronavirus-information/researchers.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) donations: See details →
Individual concerns or questions: Route to your PIs, program/home area directors, division chiefs, department chairs, and then CAOs; they can then provide responses and/or escalate questions to the Dean’s Office.
DGSOM will be hosting a virtual town hall for faculty on Friday, April 10 at noon. Dean Kelsey Martin will be joining, along with Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel Michael Levine, Chief Medical and Quality Officer Robert Cherry, and other leaders from the Dean’s Office. More information will be coming soon.
UCLA has updated its guidance for all faculty and staff members who are hosting classes or meetings on Zoom. Please refer to the new guidance posted at Zoom Security Settings for UCLA prior to conducting any further Zoom classes or meetings. Please note that these guidelines are specific to the UCLA campus and that further guidance for UCLA Health Zoom instances will be coming shortly. Additionally, you'll need to update your Zoom client to ensure you are running its latest version. If you have questions about how to implement these measures, please visit IT Connect or email DGIT at DGITSupport@mednet.ucla.edu.
To stay up to date with information pertinent to you – including planning, technological and data-protection resources for remote teaching – visit medschool.ucla.edu/coronavirus-information/faculty.
Contacts: Individual concerns or questions should be routed to your division chiefs/department chairs/CAOs; they can provide responses and/or escalate questions to the Dean’s Office. Academic personnel matters that cannot be answered in departments should be sent to DGSOM Academic Affair
There have been no new campus directives or DGSOM policy or resource changes since my last “Update” email on April 6.
Child and senior care: Health care workers required to perform essential functions onsite should use the following link to access child and senior care resources contracted through UCLA Health: brighthorizons.com/uclahealth
Health care workers required to perform essential functions onsite can access child and senior care resources contracted through UCLA Health and Bright Horizons.
To ensure your and your families’ safety, we are providing overnight accommodations to those caring for patients on our designated COVID-19 units. Contact the Command Center at (310) 267-7115 for accommodations.
Virtual wellness services are available for staff, faculty, trainees and students. A new COVID-19 Mental Health Workgroup also offers facilitated group and individual check-ins, grief support, training, and materials for trauma-informed peer support for those on the COVID-19 frontlines. Learn more →
If you are required to work on campus and you notice any suspicious activity, please alert the appropriate security or law enforcement personnel. Learn more →
Information and resources, including how you can address bias and prejudice, are available online. Contact DGSOMEDI@mednet.ucla.edu with any questions or concerns. In addition, UCLA students and faculty who experience a bias incident should report it by completing a UCLA Incident of Bias Reporting Form.
See more information about this and other initiatives to help unite us →
DGIT offers a virtual helpdesk via zoom Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. Learn more →
UCLA Health has created two new funds to support our mission: the COVID-19 Coronavirus Patient Care Fund and the COVID-19 Coronavirus Research and Education Fund. Details on each are available online, as are additional opportunities to support UCLA Health’s COVID-19 response efforts.