On Personal Responsibility and Your Health

March 18, 2020

Dear Penn Medicine Colleagues:

Together, we must lead by example in the effort to fight COVID-19. Personal responsibility – in both our work and professional lives – must be our absolute commitment in these challenging and anxious times.

There have been several healthcare providers diagnosed with COVID-19 across our health system this week. Consistent with experiences elsewhere, these individuals conferred potential exposures to both patients and other staff, resulting in quarantine for those employees.

It is imperative that clinical and essential members of our workforce do not work while they are sick. Continuing to work in our facilities while others are able to stay at home is the path we have chosen as health care workers, and our good health is needed now more than ever. If you are sick, you risk the safety of our patients and your colleagues, and the resulting exposures will diminish our workforce and our ability to care for our community as this pandemic spreads.

In addition, now that transmission from asymptomatic individuals with the virus has been observed in our community, everyone should be aware that you may be unknowingly carrying the virus, even if you have maintained adequate social distancing in your personal life in recent days. Everyone should carefully monitor themselves for any symptoms of the virus, including fever and respiratory symptoms – particularly if you have had recent travel or participated in other activities that are known to carry a higher risk of exposure.

To further safeguard one another and our patients, we plan to implement temperature screenings for staff at entrances to our facilities by week’s end. We are also actively planning for the potential redeployment of staff and resources across the health system. Among our tremendous strengths as a health system is that we have a talented bench of clinicians and staff who we know are prepared to do whatever is needed to care for our patients as this pandemic continues.

Everyone at Penn Medicine has a role to play in fighting COVID-19. The most important thing all of our team members can do is to practice social distancing while they work from home. Excursions outside the house should be limited to necessities, such as obtaining food or medicine. Gathering in even small groups outside our homes poses risks for transmitting the virus.

We recognize that these steps are difficult and uncomfortable and that they carry costs – we are practicing them in our personal lives, too – but they are the most important work we can each do to protect one another and our community. These steps will save lives.

We wish you all safety and strength, and the fortitude and resilience to help one another, your families, and your friends. You are examples of all that is extraordinary about health care workers, and together, we are rising to meet this momentous challenge.


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