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UTHSC COVID-19 Update: Our Main Priorities


Faculty, Staff, and Students,

I want to update you on the core priorities UTHSC is currently working on and share with you our plans and actions as we move forward in the current pandemic. Specific communications on some of these items will follow from the Deans and the Vice Chancellors. Our clinical faculty, residents, and fellows remain on the front line providing care in all of our core teaching hospitals.

There are six main UTHSC priorities:

1. Maintain campus infrastructure, function, security, and personnel
o This has been done very well.
o Our workforce is intact and ready to scale back up and return to campus when safe to do so.
o The Regional Biocontainment Laboratory and the Plough Center have continued to work full tilt.
o IT has been spectacular in the conversion to remote learning.
o The campus is secure and functional – a well-executed, secure wind down thanks to Campus Police and Facilities.

2. Graduate students on time
o We are working full-time to meet all of the accrediting criteria to be able to graduate our students in all six colleges as soon as possible.
o Details of this will be coming from each college.

3. Create a near-term budget
o We are modeling existing and future potential state reductions.
o In regard to state funding, emergency budget fund increases have eliminated the proposed budget for UTHSC operations, as well as funds for GME growth and the Oak Ridge Institute.
o The role of federal stimulus funds is currently being evaluated.

4. Prepare a phased approach to normalcy for the fall semester
o Our plan is to have a phased return to campus for the fall semester.
o We expect face-to-face lectures to remain online in the fall.
o We hope to restart small group sections, labs, and simulation in a social distance format.
o We expect to return to clinical rotations.
o We will convene working groups to work virtually to define a plan to achieve this restart.
o Our SACSCOC accreditation review has been deferred to a later date.

5. Prepare research labs to return to near full function using a social distancing format in the summer and fall
o The wind down to basic ongoing operation was smooth and well done without major problems.
o We will develop what is needed in a start-up plan to get back to full function that maintains social distancing within the labs.

6. Assist the state, county, and city in COVID-19 effort
o UTHSC has been a leader in the fight against COVID-19:
– Drive-thru testing at Tiger Lane
– COVID-19 testing by the Department of Pathology
– Hand sanitizer production at the Plough Center
– 3D-printing masks in College of Dentistry
– Distribution of masks received from partner institutions in China through the College of Graduate Health Sciences

o The Colleges of Medicine and Nursing are taking the lead in preparing for surge hospital capacity in Memphis and Knoxville.
o UTHSC continues to provide education to public and health providers about COVID-19.

We will continue to keep you updated as the situation changes.

For more information and resources on COVID-19, please visit uthsc.edu/coronavirus.

Stay safe!

Steve J. Schwab, MD