Covid-19: The Crucial Role of Health Care Organizations

March 13, 2020

Penn Medicine Colleagues,

The spread of COVID-19 in the United States has underscored the crucial role of health care organizations. For nearly two months, leaders and staff from around the health system have come together and devoted countless hours of creativity and dedication to ensure that we are prepared to care for patients with this disease. We have been inspired by your efforts, and want to thank you for your commitment as this outbreak continues.

This situation has become much more serious for our region in only a few days. Our #1 mission is to care for patients, and maintaining access to crucial clinical services in this fast-moving situation now requires us to take drastic steps to ensure our ability to do so while protecting both patients and our workforce.

Our clinical teams have a unique responsibility to care for patients under even the most difficult circumstances, and we are especially grateful for their unwavering dedication. We all play a role in supporting this mission, which is why we must work together and remain calm and level-headed no matter our jobs.

Several key steps will be necessary:

  • Effective immediately, Penn Medicine will implement a no-visitation/no-access policy for all inpatient locations, with limited exceptions for terminally ill patients, laboring mothers, neonatal intensive care units, pediatric patients, and for those serving as caregivers for patients undergoing same-day surgeries and procedures. Additional details about the policy are available on the UPHS COVID-19 SharePoint site.
  • Starting today, managers will be asked to make plans for staff whose jobs do not require on-site presence to work from home and/or develop alternative schedules to reduce their on-site workforce at any one time. Staff who are unable to work due to child care responsibilities or any other circumstances must notify their managers immediately.
  • Immediately proceeding with our plans to cancel appointments and scheduled surgeries which can be safely postponed until a safer time. These steps will be taken for appointments scheduled during the next two weeks, and we will re-evaluate the need to continue after that. During this time, all Penn Medicine ambulatory facilities will remain open in order to care for patients who require face-to-face visits and time-sensitive care. We will also be working to move patients to virtual visits and home care, appropriate.
  • Practicing robust social distancing in all our facets of our lives, both at work and at home. That means, for those who must work on-site, eliminating in-person meetings and using virtual technology as much as possible. Coupled with the travel and meeting policy we announced earlier this week, this is a strategy which we believe will make a profound difference in limiting the spread of this virus.

We know these steps – which will reduce the number of people in our facilities and cut down on the risk of community spread of COVID-19 – prompt many questions. Human Resources has released new policies and guidance for COVID-19-related self-isolation, illness, and other absences. These and other materials can be found on the COVID-19 SharePoint site, where new information is posted daily. Please email any additional questions to In addition, beginning today, we will be setting up a UPHS COVID-19 Resource Center which will operate daily to answer time-sensitive questions. Please watch for more details about this.

We are so grateful for your commitment to our patients and the communities we serve. We share your concerns about what is happening, but we are fully confident that our training and experience together has prepared us well to cope with these challenging times. It is clear that this situation is very fluid, and we will re-evaluate these approaches routinely to ensure we are best prepared continue to do the very best for our patients. We will communicate additional updates routinely. Thank you.




J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD

Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System

Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine

Kevin B. Mahoney

CEO, University of Pennsylvania Health System