Today is Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2020

About the College of Medicine

Guidance for the UC College of Medicine Community Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The University of Cincinnati and UC College of Medicine are closely monitoring the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. The college’s top priority is the safety of our students, faculty and staff and our continued ability to care for our patients.

As this situation has been changing rapidly, please check back often for updates.

Additional information can be found at the university’s coronavirus information page and the University Health Services’ page.

Find Information concerning research operations at the College of Medicine during the coronavirus outbreak can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is happening with graduate school graduation this year?

Andrew Filak Jr., MD: All university graduations have been canceled. The university graduation scheduled for May 4 has been canceled. The College of Medicine is looking at alternatives for hooding ceremonies and is working with the graduate students at our college in addition to the university.

Will the medical students have an opportunity to graduate early?

Andrew Filak Jr., MD: If there was an opportunity – and this is just a possibility – that a residency would like to start a medical student early prior to their July 1 start date and the student voluntarily wants to do that – and appropriate licensure would work out – we might be able to consider getting some people to graduate early to start a little early. We would do that on a selective basis, but I am not sure that is even possible yet.

Is there more we could be doing in terms of education, research and patient care to respond to the pandemic and prepare for the surge?

Andrew Filak Jr., MD: Yes, there is always more that we can do. We are relying on faculty and staff to come up with ideas as to how you can help work with us to improve this process and to work on projects. As Dr. Brett Kissela said, we have a lot of people working on research activities. Our patient care providers are actively working on teams to deal with the pandemic and the surge. On education, we are trying to fill in the gaps to utilize the time productively when the students were supposed to be on clinical rotations. We are open to ideas and suggestions.

What is the status of high school summer programs and camps at the College of Medicine?

Andrew Filak Jr., MD: The summer research institute will not be allowed to occur on campus this summer. That is the current UC policy.

What is the current recommendation on non-health care providers wearing masks?

George Smulian, MD: The role for surgical masks or cloth and handmade masks is as a source control to prevent the wearer from spreading organisms to other individuals. As we realized that asymptomatic carriage happens (the frequency we still don’t know because of limited testing), the role of masks is to protect others. It plays only a partial role of protecting you as the wearer in that mucosal surfaces, eyes, etc., still are portals of entry. The reason there are now recommendations by the Surgeon General for universal mask use wherever possible, is that the more we wear masks as a source control, the more we prevent exposure to others. It certainly is a reasonable recommendation. Distancing is still an important consideration.

How are we innovating in medical education in these changing times?

Philip Diller, MD, PhD: Innovation is really part of our response. One of the things that has happened in quick response for the M3 clerkship is that Dr. LeAnn Coberly in Internal Medicine has put together a series of cases that has been made available to students. It’s very well done and we have been very impressed with it. We have an example of a small pilot of using telehealth for inpatient consults that Dr. John Quinlan is doing. That’s novel and new. I think what we’re going to find is that during this time both students as well as faculty step up and create based on need. We will have new innovations that will come out of this that will change our educational program into the future and we will take that best of what the opportunity provides.

Will summer M1 research still be possible?

Andrew Filak Jr., MD: As of this time the university is on all remote learning through the summer semester. If possible, we may allow some students back in labs over the summer, but the planning for right now is that we will not have summer M1 research opportunities on campus. Unfortunately, that is where we stand at the moment and where we need to plan.

Can homemade masks be sanitized in your dryer for re-wear?

George Smulian, MD: The virus is liberated from fabric with soap and water so therefore these masks can be washed and safely washed in combination with the rest of your laundry, as long as you use detergent. There is no risk associated with that and they safely can be used on multiple occasions under those circumstances. Health care workers regard hand-sewn masks as a last resort. They are certainly better than nothing. But the only study that I have found that addresses the efficacy of these masks was done in 2012 looking at flu transmission and showed that most of the handsewn masks – regardless of whether they were made from cotton, T-shirt material, silk , linen, and a variety of other things – had a filtering efficiency of between 30% and 50% of a surgical mask. Certainly not ideal, but certainly better than nothing.

Should clinicians be wearing masks for all patient encounters?

George Smulian, MD: Uniform wearing of masks for all health care workers is something we are moving to as quickly as we can. I would like to emphasis that just a surgical mask does not provide adequate protection so we are trying to implement in patient care encounters that everyone wears a universal face shield in addition to a face mask because that is protecting the health care provider to the optimal capacity. We should be implementing this process in the next couple of days.

What is being done to support healthcare providers (faculty and staff) well-being and burnout prevention?

Andrew Filak Jr., MD: Dr. Myles Pensak has been leading this effort in getting resources and materials out to people. Dr. Jen Milano and her team and the Wellness Committee have been working on this. Our Department of Psychiatry under Dr. Melissa DelBello has put some things together and has resources available for people. Some of the things being considered is the possibly of virtual group sessions with some of the trained psychologists and psychiatrists to talk about burnout prevention and issues that could occur after we have gone through the surge if we have a lot of difficult issues to deal with. We are very sensitive to this and this is an area we are focusing on.

Are undergraduate research experiences (SURF, co-op etc.) likely to be feasible in CoM labs this summer?

Andrew Filak Jr., MD: Those are likely to not be feasible at this time based on university policy. We will bring this up again with the UC Public Health Response Team. Right now, throughout the university the summer activities are closed. If labs open, we might be able to put some students back into those labs but the researchers will have to ramp up. We also will have to focus on the degree-receiving students also in the labs

How long do you anticipate staff to be working remotely?

Andrew Filak Jr., MD: Right now, we have it as indefinite. It will be at least until May 1 because that is date the Governor’s office has currently set. It will depend on the surge and what is going on in the community. If the surge does not start until late April or early May, we can see significant extensions of this.

How do the restrictions on research affect M1 research scheduled to occur at Children's this summer?

Andrew Filak Jr., MD: We will have to work with Cincinnati Children’s to coordinate that. There may be some opportunities there where people are allowed in Children’s labs. Children’s has been a great partner.

What if we have someone who wants to help financially/donate, whom do we call?

We always appreciate support from the community. To donate, visit this website or contact the UC Foundation at 513-556-6781.


April 7, 2020

Effective Wednesday, April 8, 2020
The Subway restaurant in the Care/Crawley Building will be closed. It is expected to reopen after stay-at-home orders end.

April 6, 2020

PPE donations continue to come in
Donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to be made to UC Health. One significant cache of equipment came from the UC College of Arts and Sciences. Jack Hinders, senior laboratory associate in the Department of Chemistry, and Heather Norton, PhD, professor in the Department of Anthropology and co-Director of UC's Women in Science and Engineering program, on April 3 delivered 100,000 gloves, 1,500 laboratory gowns, 30 new pairs of goggles and 500 isolation face masks to UC Health. Donations came from the departments of chemistry, physics and anthropology.

Calhoun to lead set up of hospital operation at Duke Energy Center
Dustin Calhoun, MD, associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and medical director of UC Health emergency management, has been tapped by joint regional leadership, through the Greater Cincinnati Health Collaborative, to help lead the set up and implementation of a unified regional hospital at the Duke Energy Center. The center is expected to hold about 550 hospital beds and would treat patients with milder coronavirus symptoms and other medical issues. This week, Stewart Wright, MD, professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and associate chief medical officer at UC Health, will replace Calhoun in the role of sub-incident commander for UC Health.

April 3, 2020

Dean holds virtual town hall meeting
More than 600 faculty, staff and students joined Andrew Filak Jr., MD, senior vice president for health affairs and Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean, for more than 30 minutes April 3 for a virtual town hall meeting. He was joined by senior associate deans Melanie Cushion, PhD, Philip Diller, MD, PhD, Brett Kissela, MD, Alex Lentsch, PhD, Lori Mackey, and Myles Pensak, MD, and George Smulian, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. Filak provided updates on the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the College of Medicine and fielded more than a dozen questions from participants.

For those not able to participate, the virtual town hall can be seen online. Due to a technical problem, the first several minutes of the town hall did not record. Read a transcript of the dean’s opening comments Answers to questions asked during the town hall also are available on this page in the FAQ section.

April 2, 2020

Donation expands UC Health testing capabilities for COVID-19
Through the University of Cincinnati Foundation, an anonymous donor has funded the purchase of two pieces of equipment for the UC Health Precision Medicine Laboratory, which can be put to immediate use in accelerating in-house testing for the novel coronavirus responsible for the global pandemic. Two machines and their associated peripherals at a value of $170,000, as well a quantity of test kits for an additional $30,000, have been purchased and are en route to arrive at UC Medical Center within the next two weeks.

Dani Zander, MD, MacKenzie Chair and Professor of Pathology at the College of Medicine and chief of pathology and laboratory medicine for UC Health, says the gift purchased the GenMark ePlex® and the KingFisher™ extraction instruments and associated test kits.

“With the purchase and arrival of these machines, paired with the recent capabilities of our in-house instruments, we should be able to more than quadruple the number of COVID-19 tests that we can process in one day,” Zander said. “Also, with the GenMark, we will have the ability to run a rapid test for COVID-19, that will take about 90 minutes for a positive or negative result.”

Aside from testing for COVID-19, this equipment can be used for other testing purposes in the future, such as performing cancer genotyping that is important for determining cancer treatment.

April 2, 2020

Ohio stay-at-home order extended 
Amy Acton, MD, director of the Ohio Department of Health, today signed an amended stay-at-home order extending it through May 1, 2020.  Read the full Amended Director’s Stay at Home Order (PDF).

April 1, 2020

Food Service Update
Beginning Monday, April 6, 2020, Starbucks will be open weekdays from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. each weekday. Subway continues to be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.

March 30, 2020

Dean to hold virtual town hall meeting
Andrew Filak Jr., MD, senior vice president for health affairs and Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean, will hold a virtual town hall meeting at 11 a.m., Friday, April 3. He and several senior associate deans will provide updates on College of Medicine activities associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Faculty, staff and students should expect an email invitation with directions on accessing the session via WebEx or telephone. Questions for them should be submitted to by 5 p.m., Wednesday, April 1.

UC Health begins in-house testing
Beginning today, the UC Health Precision Medicine Laboratory will perform in-house testing for COVID-19. The testing will be a modification of the assay developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for which an Emergency Use Authorization has been issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The anticipated turnaround time for this test is one to three days. In-house testing will initially be limited to inpatients and Emergency Department patients who are being admitted. The UC Health COVID-19 Core Team also is considering other groups for in-house testing. Specimens from healthcare workers and first responders will continue to be sent to LabCorp.

“Our pathology and laboratory medicine experts (Kelsey Dillehay-McKillip, PhD, assistant professor; Kurt Hodges, MD, associate professor; and Eleanor Powell, PhD, assistant professor, all in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine) have been working tirelessly to equip the UC Health Precision Medicine Laboratory to provide this testing,” said Dani Zander, MD, chief of pathology and laboratory medicine for UC Health and MacKenzie Chair and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the College of Medicine. 

UC Health also provides drive-thru sample collection by appointment only. Due to limited testing supplies, drive-thru testing is currently only available to health care workers and first responders.

UC medical students assist seniors amidst COVID-19 pandemic
A group of about 40 UC medical students are part of a free service program known as “Cincinnati + NKY COVID-19 Match” aimed at connecting younger healthy volunteers who have a lower risk for illness with individuals at severe risk of developing coronavirus and in need of someone to pick up groceries, medications or deliver meals.

Third-year UC medical students Cassandra Schoborg and Tommy Daley spearheaded the effort. They began thinking about ways to help as federal, state and local officials announced restrictions in daily life to protect public health. Schoborg, a Covington, Kentucky, native, was already assisting her grandmother by picking up groceries and other essentials.

Individuals who sign up as volunteers along with seniors participating in the program receive emails offering suggestions for the type of assistance that can be provided and how to interact to ensure all parties are staying within safety guidelines to prevent further spread of coronavirus.

While medical students form the core of the program it also is open to community members and has attracted about three dozen volunteers not affiliated with UC. To get involved visit the “Cincinnati + NKY COVID-19 Match” website or read more about the program.

Hoxworth donation centers open 
Hoxworth Blood Center continues to need blood donors. Hoxworth is now asking donors to schedule all appointments at its seven blood donation centers and is not permitting walk-in donors so it can ensure appropriate social distancing. Additionally, all blood drives held on buses have been cancelled until May 1. Donations at neighborhood donor centers and blood drives held around Cincinnati will continue as scheduled.

Grand Rounds on COVID-19
Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, presented “COVID-19: Science, Reality and Hope” on March 18 in a Medicine Grand Rounds. For those who were not able to participate, you can view his presentation online

Warning on COVID-19 phishing attempts
College of Medicine information security experts warn to be on the lookout for email phishing attempts playing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Phishing, which attempts to gain usernames, passwords and other information through fraudulent emails with links to fake websites, have been increasing in recent weeks. The emails often look real but there are usual warning signs, including an unfamiliar greeting, misspellings, poor grammar and sketchy return email addresses. Additional information and tips to avoid falling victim to phishing attempts are available online from UC Information Security. Anyone receiving such emails should forward them to  

Striker Lecture canceled
The 11th Annual Cecil Striker Lecture scheduled for May 7 has been canceled. The lecture by Jack Gluckman, MD, professor emeritus, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, on Christian R. Holmes, MD, dean of the College of Medicine from 1914 until his death in 1920, will be rescheduled in 2021. The annual lecture on medical history is presented by the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions and the Cecil Striker Society for the History of Medicine.

March 25, 2020

Food Service
Subway will now be open from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

March 23, 2020

Faculty, community respond to call for personal protection equipment
A March 20 message from College of Medicine research leadership to faculty seeking essential reagents and personal protective equipment (PPE) for UC Health physicians and staff on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle generated a large trove of donations. Not only did research faculty step up, but after sharing the request with others outside the college, so did people in the Cincinnati community.
The call for donations was led by Melanie T. Cushion, PhD, senior associate dean for research, Brett Kissela, MD, senior associate dean for clinical research, and Kenneth Greis, PhD, associate dean for research core facilities.
Lori Harris (pictured), interim director of the Harrison Health Sciences Library, pulled almost 40 N95 masks in addition to gloves and gowns from the library’s disaster preparedness kits and donated them to UC Health. Many basic science labs have also helped by supplying PPE and media for virus testing. Material will continued to be collected until Friday, March 27 and can be dropped off in the conference room in the Dean’s Suite, CARE/Crawley E-870.
Kissela also enlisted the help of fellow American Heart Association board member Steve Berke who further spread the word. Through Berke’s efforts, Great Oaks Career Campuses quickly gathered a minivan-load of masks, eye shields, gloves and other PPE for donation. Harry Snyder, president and CEO of Great Oaks, even helped by driving the materials directly to UC Health. Sycamore Community School District donated PPE and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College also has material to donate. Separately, Indian Hill Exempted Village School District supplied PPE.

“All the people who have contributed so far have been unbelievably kind,” Kissela said. “They want to do something to help and they had many supportive things to say for all of our health care workers. They clearly all got it; that getting infected could be life or death and that any infection is a risk to our work force.”
2020 Honors Day canceled
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the College of Medicine’s Honors Day ceremony, scheduled for May 23, has been canceled. Graduating students were informed March 21 that UC has postponed all spring commencement exercises. Given the timeline for graduating medical students’ transition to residency, it would be difficult for the college to postpone Honors Day until a later date. The college is committed to celebrating the Class of 2020, and has begun planning an alternate commemoration of this year’s class. Administration will work closely with Medical Student Association class co-presidents to gather ideas for an alternate celebration.
Inspirational message to third-year students
In an update to third-year medical students on March 20, Philip Diller, MD, PhD, senior associate dean for educational affairs, also offered students words of advice on their medical education during a suspension of their clinical experience due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Daniel Drake, the founder of our college was self-taught. He read the works of the masters of his time. He worked through the textbooks seeing both the forest and the trees of each discipline. He had a single teacher and no teams or hospitals at the start, and then four months of lectures at University of Pennsylvania. His approach of self-education still works,” Diller wrote.
He suggests that students review case descriptions, practice the skills fundamental to doctoring, learn the various roles of the clinical team and clarify their specialty choice. “Add to all this Aequanimitas,” Diller continued. “This word was the watchword of William Osler which he shared in one of his graduation addresses. It means staying calm in the midst of turbulent times.”
Read his inspirational letter.
Student service opportunities
College of Medicine medical students have created a website to list service opportunities available during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
“We hope to set up a sustainable system to support our community, now and especially when the press around all of this dies down,” says third-year medical student Alexandra Schoenberger.
The site lists opportunities such as screening people entering a UC facility, supporting local volunteer operations such as Adopt-an-Elder and Meals on Wheels, making blood donations and supporting health care providers with child care, petsitting and grocery runs.
Anxiety Help
Faculty, staff and students can find useful tips for managing stress associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD and additional tips for health care workers. Other available resources:

UC Health hospitals restrict visitors
Effective today, UC Medical Center and West Chester Hospital will not allow visitors on their campuses. There are two exceptions to this:
1) In cases where visitor restriction will produce an undue hardship for the patient or family; and 2) In cases where the restriction is detrimental to the care of the patient. In cases where a visitor is permitted with the permission of the nurse manager and/or medical director, they will be screened upon entrance. Only one visitor will be permitted.
Harrison Health Sciences Library closed
The Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library (HSL) will remain closed until further notice. HSL faculty, staff and student workers will be working remotely. Library users are encouraged to keep library materials, and fines will not be incurred for UC, OhioLINK or Interlibrary Loan items. Although the HSL will be closed, staff will still handle reference and research questions for students, faculty, staff and UC administrators. Leave a message at 513-558-1433 or click here to ask a question. Check the library websites for UC Libraries service updates.

March 17, 2020

Harrison Health Sciences Library Closing

The Donald C. Harrison Health Sciences Library (HSL) will close at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 17, 2020 until further notice.  As we are all aware, these are critical times that call for each of us to do all that we can to continue to support our students, staff and faculty as seamlessly as possible, but also in a safe manner. HSL faculty, staff and student workers will work remotely.

Library users are encouraged to keep library materials. Fines will not be incurred for UC, OhioLINK or Interlibrary Loan items. Although the HSL will be closed, we will still handle reference and research questions for students, faculty, staff and UC administrators. Leave a message at 513-558-1433 or click here to ask a questionCheck the library websites for UC Libraries service updates.

Managing stress associated with the COVID-19 virus outbreak

Faculty, staff and students can find useful tips for managing stress associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD and additional tips for health care workers.

The UC Health Stress Center also may be of assistance. Call their confidential line at 513-558-5872.

UC Employee Assistance Program is available.

March 16, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) impact to the College of Medicine

In response to the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the University of Cincinnati and the College of Medicine have altered operations in numerous ways to fulfill the missions of the college while protecting the health and well-being of faculty, staff and students and meeting our civic responsibility.

Faculty and Staff
  • Faculty and staff will transition to working remotely until further notice. Find further information and an employee FAQ.
  • All exterior doors to College of Medicine buildings will be locked 24 hours a day beginning Tuesday, March 17. Access will be available with your UC identification card. Any UC faculty, staff or student needing access but who currently does not have electronic access to these buildings can have it added to their UC identification card by calling UC Public Safety at 513-556-4925. Anyone without a UC identification badge will need to contact UC Public Safety to arrange access.
Educational activities

Educational activities will be conducted via remote learning through the end of the semester.

Effective Tuesday, March 17, clinical education experience for third- and fourth-year medical students is suspended until March 29. The college is working to develop remote alternate learning experiences for these students.

A virtual town hall for medical students regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) was held March 13 with Andrew Filak Jr., MD, senior vice president for health affairs and Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean; Philip Diller, MD, PhD, senior associate dean for educational affairs; Aurora Bennett, MD, associate dean of student affairs; and Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine.

Research continues

Although under emergency procedures, the research mission continues to be operational. However, there are restrictions that must be enacted to protect personnel and maintain the integrity of our research infrastructure. Each college research laboratory must have an emergency preparedness plan to ensure both of these priorities. Clinical research also continues. Study participants who are taking study product that is treating a health condition will continue on their assigned study product and undergo study visits per their individual protocol. Visits for studies that do not involve a study product/medication or device should be postponed and/or conducted by telephone where feasible. Core facilities are planning to maintain some level of research continuity. Find detailed information on research planning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Clinical care

Beginning today, UC Health hospitals have implemented restricted access measures and updated visitor restrictions. At UC Medical Center, there will be only four public entrances: Main Lobby, Emergency Department, Ridgeway Visitor Entrance and Ridgeway Psychiatric Emergency Services Controlled Entry/Exit. Ambulatory locations, including outpatient buildings and physician offices, are being evaluated for restricted access and may implement future restrictions on a case-by-case basis. Visitors to UC Medical Center and West Chester Hospital must be over 14 years of age and will be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Daniel Drake Center for Post-Acute Care and Bridgeway Pointe are not accepting visitors due to their high-acuity patient population. In order to proactively manage staff, supplies and space, the clinical leadership of the various departments has been working together to determine surgeries and appointments that can be postponed or cancelled.

Events Canceled

All upcoming College of Medicine events have been canceled or postponed unless they can be virtualized. Among those events canceled are:

  • March 20: Match Day celebration. Students this year will receive their match envelopes individually and learn their match on their own.
  • March 25: Opioid Symposium (may be rescheduled later in the year).
  • March 26: Hutton Ethics Lectureship.
  • March 27: Ninth Annual Internal Medicine Research Symposium.
  • March 28: CME Symposium: Multidisciplinary Management of Gastrointestinal Cancers.
  • April 3 and 4: Second Look event.
  • April 21: Fourth Annual UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute/Neurobiology Research Day.


Hoxworth Blood Center

Hoxworth Blood Center continues its operation as the demand for blood products continues. Hoxworth is not testing or screening for COVID-19, but does screen all donors to ensure they are healthy and eligible to donate. There is no known risk of transmission of COVID-19 through the blood donation process or from blood transfusions. Blood donations are needed. To schedule a donation, call 513-451-0910.

Food Service Starbucks will be open from 6 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each weekday. Subway will be open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The UC Medical Center cafeteria will be open daily. Many of the tables and chairs have been removed to promote social distancing.

College remains open

The College of Medicine remains open, reminds Filak. He encourages everyone during these stressful times to take care of themselves and one another and to pay attention to CDC guidelines with respect to personal hygiene, including hand washing, mass gatherings and social distancing.  

In a message to faculty, staff and students, Filak said: “I would like to express my profound gratitude and appreciation to all faculty and staff for your cooperation and efforts throughout this health crisis. You have been diligent in ensuring the continued operation of the College of Medicine, making certain that our responsibilities are met. I applaud how, through a very difficult and fluid situation, you have maintained our ultimate goals of enhancing and improving the lives of our patients, providing an excellent education for our students and conducting groundbreaking research. I also want to thank all our students for your understanding as we transform your educational experience to meet the demands of this unprecedented health crisis.”

“I could not be prouder of how everyone has risen to these challenges,” he added.

coronavirus model

Key Notes