August 18, 2021 update
Last week, the Oregon Health Authority issued OAR 333-019-1010, which requires all health care workers that have direct or indirect contact with patients, including students, and any employee or student who enters OCOM as part of their duties, to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by September 30, 2021 or receive weekly tests to assure they are not infected with COVID-19.
There is no flexibility or “opt out” for this mandate. OCOM’s liability for non-compliance is a fine of up to $500/day per individual violation.
The college’s OSHA Task Force has been meeting with officials of the Oregon Health Authority along with other higher education institutions. We have clarified that this rule applies to all OCOM personnel who are studying, providing patient care, or working at either of OCOM’s properties. This includes staff, faculty, teaching assistants, and students.
What does the temporary ruling require?
An individual who works, learns, studies, assists, observes, or volunteers in a “health care setting” must either be fully vaccinated or be tested for COVID-19 at least weekly. Employers of “health care providers and health care staff” must have a policy in place to ensure compliance with this requirement.
What is a “health care setting” for the purposes of this rule?
A “health care setting” is “any place where health care, including physical or behavioral health care is delivered.” A non-exhaustive list of “health care settings,” can be found at OAR 333-019-1010 (2)(e) (A)
Who qualifies as “health care providers and health care staff” under this mandate?
“Health care providers and health care staff” means an individual who works, learns, studies, assists, observes, or volunteers in a health care setting “providing direct patient or resident care or who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients, residents, or infectious materials.” A complete definition of this term can be found at OAR 333-019-1010 (2)(d)
Will OCOM mandate the COVID vaccine?
OCOM will comply with all state laws and government requirements. If or when the governor, federal government, or local health authority issues an order mandating vaccination for students and health care providers, OCOM will be obligated to mandate vaccines. While neither OCOM or the state of Oregon is mandating vaccines at this time, the trend is to require vaccines at health care facilities, and we feel, in full disclosure to our patients and our campus community, that such mandates are likely eventually.
However, all staff, faculty, and students who are onsite at OCOM in the 2021-2022 academic year are required by state mandate to disclose their vaccine status. For those who are not vaccinated, weekly test results from certified lab testing (not home tests) must be submitted.
I am not vaccinated. What kind of tests are required?
The state requires PCR or Antigen testing. The availability, cost, and coverage for each type of test continues to change. We are investigating companies that provide on-site testing, but we cannot confirm at this time that we can provide such tests. Should OCOM provide testing, the availability will likely occur only at certain times on certain days.
Test results must be submitted weekly for those who do not register a completed vaccine series. Once we have the tracking/reporting tools in place you will receive further notification.
At this time, insurance companies are obligated to cover the cost of testing. We are exploring what no cost testing options may be available for those without health insurance.
Can I get an exemption?
Since OCOM is not requiring vaccination, we are not creating an exemption process for verified medical and organized religious exemptions. Exemptions, should vaccines become mandatory, would only exempt you from the vaccination itself.
What if I refuse to be submit vaccine status, be tested, or miss my test?
Then you may not attend classes, clinics, or work on campus. The mandate does not allow us to make exceptions. Absence policies apply for failure to meet this mandate. Students who choose an approved, online-only plan change may have to adjust their timeline for completion since in-person practical skills experiences are required to graduate.
I have had patients ask about my vaccine status. What is appropriate to share?
Many patients OCOM serves are only willing to be seen by vaccinated providers and students. You do not have to volunteer this information. You may volunteer to share information as you see fit, but as an institution, the college will not disclose your status.
OCOM intends to inform patients that we are following the state mandates for verifying vaccine status or requiring weekly testing as well as continuing our mask, hygiene, ventilation, and social distancing mandates.
We believe science is behind the vaccines and still encourage everyone who is not to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Learn more about resources that are available to you.
OSHA Task Force
July 19, 2021 update
Dear OCOM Community,
This past year has been filled with challenges and inconveniences, but your willingness to comply with governmental and institutional guidelines has helped to protect the OCOM community from the COVID-19 virus. While this pandemic isn’t over, the OSHA task force has carefully considered the new guidelines issued by the CDC and Oregon-OSHA and would like to update you with what has and has not been changed in OCOM’s COVID-19 safety requirements. Following is the updated OCOM OSHA Covid-19 Safety Plan.
What IS NOT changing:
Mask Use — OCOM’s mask policy will remain the same. Everyone on the OCOM campus will be required to wear a mask. Surgical masks or greater must be worn by anyone in a clinical setting or in a hands-on class. Procedural masks are recommended for all others but at minimum a cloth mask is required. Bandanas, nylon masks, and gators will not be allowed as studies have shown their protection is inferior.
Please be aware that proper mask use is the best protection against the virus and its highly contagious variants. At least 2-3 layers of cloth, or better yet, procedural or N95 masks provide the most protection.
Cleaning Practices — Thorough cleaning of treatment rooms, classrooms and other high touch surfaces is good practice and will continue.
Lobby Screening — Health Screening will continue at least through the Summer and perhaps beyond depending on public health recommendations for health care settings and our infection rates. The screening questions and recommendations will be modified to reflect CDC guidance as those evolve.
Travel Guidelines — OCOM’s travel policy will not change, you can access that policy here.
Meetings — Through at least Winter quarter, all department meetings, committees, and other workgroups will continue via Zoom.
Scrubs in the clinic — Please wear clean scrubs in the clinic; scrubs are now officially part of the clinic dress code. You may continue to wear clean clinic clothing and a lab coat. Always wear your nametag.
What IS changing:
Library — The library will no longer restrict the number of users in the library; additional work spaces will be added. Additional furniture will be returned gradually to the library and other parts of campus over the summer.
General Campus Access — OCOM will no longer be limiting the number of people on campus. All persons with a private office CAN return fully to being on campus. Those who share offices should alternate days on campus. Summer will be used as a gradual transition to more in-person activities. The continuation of hybrid work past Summer quarter should be requested through your supervisor, and will be negotiated with guidance from administration over the summer.
Staff will have an open forum to provide input on hybrid work at the next regular staff meeting. Due to the highly contagious variants, there are rationales for continuing some hybrid and staggered campus presence for the near term, thus discussing a gradual return to pre-pandemic campus activities and presence.
Kitchen Supplies — Kitchen supplies will return, bagging lunches in a paper bag before putting in the refrigerator is no longer required. Everyone is encouraged to eat outside whenever possible. If you are eating outside, social distancing is encouraged. Please continue to clean up after yourself. Social distancing is required if eating inside.
Rooftop — Masks are no longer required on the rooftop if you are eating and social distancing six feet or more from others. Note that close proximity between unmasked persons still carries risk, even for those vaccinated, and especially so with the more contagious variants, so please use good common sense when you unmask to eat.
Bookstore — Signs limiting the number of occupants in the Bookstore will be removed.
Face Shields — Face shields should be used when the supervisor or clinical instructors tells interns or students to use them, or when a patient or student in patient role for lab classes requests the use of a face shield by the practitioner(s); whenever inserting facial needles in clinics or lab classes; when encountering a coughing or sneezing patient. They will no longer be required when coming within six feet of a patient or lab partner under other circumstances unless advised to do so by the supervisor or instructor as noted above.
Distancing Protocols — Signs limiting the number of room occupants in the clinic spaces will be removed, although larger shifts such as Clinic Trainee and Herbal Internship will remain in classrooms through summer.
Furniture — Clinic conference room tables, waiting room chairs, and other furniture will return. Furniture has been in storage, so this roll out will be gradual.
The UV Lightroom — The UV lightroom will be converted back into a clinical conference room. The UV light will be moved into the laundry room. Please pick up (and launder) your lab coat.
Lab Partners — Students will no longer be limited to one partner(s) or pod for clinical skills classes. Clinical instructors will advise their students on partnering in lab classes for the summer.
Classroom Setup — Over the next few weeks classrooms will begin to look like they did prior to the pandemic. Additional tables and chairs will be added allowing classes to be held in single rooms instead of spread over multiple rooms by the end of the Summer quarter. Operations staff will work with faculty on room set-up plans and with the Registrar and IT on room and equipment set-up. It will take several weeks to make classroom adjustments. Please be patient and allow for an orderly transition.
These adjustments provide a measured relaxing of some of our rigorous safety measures while preserving the most critical and most effective means of reducing the spread of the virus and monitoring risk and campus access. If there are outbreaks or surges or other public health reasons to return to more stringent protocols, that will be communicated to campus and appropriate measures taken.
We anticipate that lecture classes will remain on Zoom for Fall and Winter quarters to help accommodate those who cannot yet return to larger campus gatherings. We anticipate that clinics and clinical lab classes will return to more normal operations, but with continued mask use. More information specifically regarding Fall quarter will follow as we monitor the spread of the variants.
December 20, 2020 update
October 7, 2020 update
June 26, 2020 update
June 22, 2020 update – Multnomah County entered Phase 1 on June 19 and a new mask requirement will stand for all indoor public spaces. In addition Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties, are now considered the Tri-county Area, as one single unit when it comes to reopening decisions. As a result of these decisions, the entire tri-county region will remain in Phase 1 for at least 21 days after June 19 before the three counties together will become eligible for Phase 2.
Multnomah County says their plan to continue to limit the spread of COVID-19 will include more testing, especially for Black, Indigenous, and people of color, as well as contact tracing.
Oregon health officials continue to stress the importance of:
• Limiting close contact with people outside your household
• Keeping six feet of distance from others when you are out in public
• Wearing a face covering
• Minimizing non-essential travel whenever possible
• Practicing basic prevention — Wash hands often, use hand sanitizer, don’t touch your face, stay home when you are sic
In addition, OCOM has received guidelines from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) to move forward on our reopening of clinics and campus July 6. Governor Brown announced, effective June 14, 2020, that in-person instruction and clinical education at Oregon colleges and universities can resume, but only if institutions meet minimum COVID-19 public health standards adopted by the Oregon Health Authority as outlined in recently released Public Health Guidelines for the Conduct of In-person Instructional, Residential, and Research Activities at Oregon Colleges and Universities. Each college and university has the flexibility to determine how and when students return to campus, and the institution determined that the campus reopening plan developed by the OSHA pandemic task force aligns with the public health requirements contained in the guidance.
The college is beginning with a soft opening with a few additional essential staff starting this week. This includes the return of some of the Patient Services Team and the addition of new campus screeners, all of whom are doing training and onboarding. A few students will be taking the Clinic Entrance Exams on campus June 24-26; otherwise, the campus remains on restricted access this week. While we are still working on implementation details, some patients may be seen in both the OCOM Clinic and the OCOM Hollywood Clinic during the week of July 3. Normal clinic operations will resume July 6, 2020 with associated safety measures.
June 2, 2020 update – All Spring quarter didactic classes and clinical experiences, will remain online for the duration of Spring term through June 26. OCOM has collaborated with other colleges on a phased clinical training programs reopening plan. We await a response from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), the Oregon Health Authority, and the governor’s staff on approval to move forward. We will have at least one month's supply of PPE, is needed to re-open clinics and practical skills classes, with two week's worth already on hand, donated by Multnomah County and SERV-OR.
April 9, 2020 update – On Wednesday, April 8, Governor Kate Brown has issued an extension of Executive Order 20-09, governing COVID-19 related school closures through "the end of the school year." We understand that this means a hardship for students and working parents with children now studying at home. As an institution of graduate medical education on our own academic calendar, we have some flexibility around delivering telehealth and medical services in the interim.
We have recently been approved for extensions through June 1 for our didactic distance education, as well as our clinical distance education by our accreditor, ACAOM. ACAOM does its approval time periods in coordination with the US Department of Education — and those are continuing to evolve. It is our intention to deliver a quality academic product online for as long as it's allowable according to our accreditor and state guidelines and we are planning now for make-up shifts and practical hands-on lab hours once campus re-opens.
March 19, 2020 update – On Wednesday, Governor Kate Brown announced an executive order directing Oregon's higher education institutions to move their curriculums to online learning, prohibiting in-person classroom interactions through April 28 as a way to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
Thank you to all who have so quickly moved into the Zoom space for your final week of classes. We will be finishing the Winter quarter as scheduled, including your finals next week. We would also like you to know that floor-by-floor deep cleaning and sanitizing is taking place throughout the building over the break, including each individual workstation.
We are planning to start Spring quarter April 6 online. We are actively seeking opportunities to offer clinical education in an adapted format.
We know this is a hard time for everyone, and we are gathering supportive community resources for rent, food, and utilities. Please click here to link to our resources page.
March 17, 2020 update – Zoom is up and running, and the virtual campus will support students, faculty and staff through the end of the term. For those impacted by the COVID-19 closures, please visit our community resource page for special programs and other community assistance resources. Click here for the resource page.
March 13, 2020 update – OCOM Clinic and OCOM Hollywood Clinic will be closed beginning tomorrow, Saturday, March 14, 2020, until the start of Spring quarter on April 6, 2020. All remaining instruction and exams for the term will take place using Zoom, Populi, Moodle or by materials emailed to students. Updates will be sent to students over the coming week, depending upon the circumstances of the class and their stage in the program. Please be understanding and patient with your faculty as they work diligently to make this transition.
Campus will remain open this weekend for students to access lockers or other resources. You are encouraged to pick up any relevant mental health and personal support resources located outside the counseling office. Remote access to student advising and counseling are part of our planning and more to come on that as well.
While we will maintain a very small team of essential staff intermittently on campus, most work will be done remotely during this time. The campus will be closed to students and patients effective Monday, March 16, 2020 through April 5, 2020. At this time, we plan to re-open the clinic at the start of Spring quarter on April 6, 2020.
March 11, 2020 update – New cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Oregon and OCOM is tracking the developments closely, leadership is meeting regularly and developing action plans for all possible scenarios.
For now, the best advice is to remain calm and practice good hygiene including the following:
• Frequent and thorough hand washing
• Covering your cough
• Clean frequently used surfaces and devices
• Individuals should not come to campus or clinic if you have:
− Fever (100.4° F [38° C] or greater using an oral thermometer).
− Other symptoms like cough, vomiting, or diarrhea
If this is the case, we recommend that you call your primary health care provider, urgent care, or an emergency room before going in for an assessment.
• It is best not to return to campus your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever reducing medications
• Good self care to boost immunity through proper nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management
To receive the best personal guidance on being prepared during this evolving outbreak, we encourage you to the Oregon Health Authority website or to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updates.
How is OCOM Reducing the Risk of Spread of the Virus?
The college is implementing campus-wide communication campaigns and building maintenance guidelines. If you are interested in viewing those procedures, please click the links below.
What about Travel?
At this point we are not recommending a specific action other than anyone who has recently traveled to traveled to level two or three zones: South Korea, China, Italy, or Iran should:
• Consult their county health department for guidance
• Consider staying home from campus and making work arrangements
If you are interested in more information about COVID-19 risk assessment by country, click here.
Anyone planning travel, especially for spring break, should contact their airlines now to ask about cancellation and change policies. The continued spread of the COVID-19 virus to countries around the world may present challenges to travelers. It is important to consider not only the potential exposure to the virus from traveling abroad but also the possibility of being stranded abroad due to travel restrictions being put in place while traveling. Depending on developments with the disease, travelers may find themselves unable to return to the U.S. after travel to high-risk countries. To track updates on travel advisories, please click here.
While we do not relish having to refer to the campus emergency communication policy for anything other than the occasional snow day, please know that we have a process for addressing a situation of this nature. As testing for the virus increases, more cases are likely to be identified, and we will update you on any direct impact this may have on campus operations.