It’s hard to believe the Thanksgiving holiday is next week. But it is, so let’s celebrate! Our traditional Thanksgiving meal at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UTHSCT) will have to be handled a bit differently this year because of COVID-19. We still want to celebrate and remind you of how thankful we are for each one of you. But, rather than personally serving you a “thank you” meal as we usually do, this year our leadership team is offering you a “thank you” meal voucher. Each employee will receive a meal voucher from the Blue Star Café to cover the cost of one meal of your choice, at your convenience when you return to campus. Department leaders may pick up the meal vouchers for their teams on the following dates, at the specified locations:
- Today, November 17, from noon until 4 p.m., in the Blue Star Café.
- Friday, November 20, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., in the Ornelas Amphitheater lobby.
- Tuesday, November 24, from noon until 4 p.m., in the Ornelas Amphitheater lobby.
We hope you enjoy this holiday season with much-deserved rest and joyful time spent with loved ones, knowing you have our sincere gratitude for all you do. Please stay safe and remember to keep your celebrations small to deter the spread of COVID-19. Happy Thanksgiving!
November Lung Cancer Awareness events this week
- Wednesday, November 18 – Walk out Lung Cancer on the walking trail from 2:00 until 3:00 p.m. Dr. James Fox and Dr. Paul McGaha will speak on lung cancer and tobacco use. Photos will be taken in honor of someone special to you who has been affected by a tobacco-related disease or lung cancer. Who are you walking for?
- Thursday, November 19 – The Great American Smokeout! Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) projects on tobacco cessation and lung cancer screening will be outside the Blue Star Café, near the picnic tables, from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Selfie photo props with the hashtag #EliminateTobaccoUseETX will be available for your social media posts.
- Friday, November 20 – Grand Rounds from noon until 1:00 p.m. in the Ornelas Amphitheater. Dr. Maher A. Karam-Hage with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will speak on “Screening for and Treating Tobacco Use Disorder to Prevent Lung Cancer.”
Make sure to attend the events for fun activities with games and prizes. Grand prizes include our newly designed lung cancer and tobacco-free t-shirt and $25 gift cards from Super 1 Foods. Please follow UTHSCT on social media to like and share our posts using the hashtag #ElimateTobaccoUseETX. If you have any questions, please contact Misty Lewis at 903-877-7369 or Sarah Tison Malone at 903-877-1430.
Texas Hypertension Control Summit project presentation today, November 17
The Texas Hypertension Control Summit brings together national hypertension control experts and leaders from across Texas to strategize next steps for collectively improving blood pressure control across the state. UT Health Science Center’s Department of State Health Services (DSHS) project will be presented (again) today, November 17, from 11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. We were selected to be one of the nine posters presented. Our category is “Community-Based Initiatives.” There are three categories, and after each category participants will vote on which session they enjoyed the most. Winners will be recognized at the final session on December 3. Dr. Michele Bosworth also represented UTHSCT on the panel of a September 22 session entitled “Measure Accurately: Fostering Equity and Hypertension Control During COVID-19 and Beyond.” Past sessions and registration for the November 17 and December 3 sessions can be found by visiting: https://ahahouston.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/20202021TexasHypertensionControlSummit/tabid/1137953/Default.aspx.
Galaxy reporting upgrade today, November 17
The Information Technology Assistance Center (iTAC) and the software vendor will perform a software and server upgrade to Galaxy and it’s reporting service this evening, Tuesday, November 17, from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. This software upgrade is necessary to provide security patches and improvements to the software. This is the first part of several upgrades to Galaxy and Galactica. Galaxy reporting services will be down during this upgrade. If you have any questions, please contact iTAC by calling extension 7700 or by emailing iTAC@nulluthct.edu. For more information, please visit: https://uthsct.sharepoint.com/sites/UTHSCTIT/SitePages/IT-Scheduled-Maintenance—Galaxy-Upgrade-10-17-2020-5-00PM-7-00PM.aspx.
Identity protection services available
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) offers identity protection services to UT Select and UT Connect medical plan members. Identity protection services are provided at no cost to the medical plan members. Benefits available through this plan include credit monitoring, fraud resolution, identity theft insurance for adults and a selection of services for minor children. For additional information, including how to enroll, visit: https://www.utsystem.edu/offices/employee-benefits/resources/identity-protection-services.
Nicotine/tobacco cessation training
A new continuing medical education (CME) offering has been uploaded to Performance Manger for completion by December 15. This CME is offered in partnership with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston through the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) initiative to help east Texas. Our region has the highest number of tobacco users in the state. The CME is filled with important information and resources to help others quit smoking. If you’re a medical provider, it discusses best practices to offer support for your patients. But, even if you’re not a medical provider, you probably know someone you would like to help quit smoking or using nicotine products. This learning opportunity will help you do your part to reduce addiction to tobacco and nicotine products, which leads to many poor health outcomes in our region. Helping even one person quit is worth it! Please contact MD Anderson at 713-794-3175 with questions or concerns regarding the CME Training website.
Virtual appointments with UT retirement vendors
UT retirement vendors are not currently allowed to come on campus for face-to-face meetings with employees. But they are available for virtual appointments. Check availability and schedule appointments using the links for each vendor company below.
- AIG Retirement Services – https://my.valic.com/SeminarRegistration/availableSeminars.aspx?csr=ygksk4Nipxt2Jqzu4fCtF9ahTCtFb17vhX4inL7eBH4=. (Updated Link)
- Fidelity Investments – https://nb.fidelity.com/public/nb/default/fort.
- Lincoln Financial Group – e-mail: Lawrence.Smith@nulllfg.com.
- TIAA CREFF Financial Services – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- VOYA – https://backoffice.timetap.com/backoffice/app/home#/appointments/calendar.
COVID-19 Updates …
COVID-related employee health issues
We are still in an active pandemic, and now more than ever, proper use of personal protective equipment is imperative. This means that masks are to be worn at all times when interacting with patients or other employees. Additionally, eye protection should be worn with all patient encounters that are within six feet. Breakrooms and the cafeteria are no exception. This is a strong reminder that social distancing of more than six feet must be maintained when unmasked and eating in these settings. Please consider alternatives such as eating in a closed office work space or eating on your own outside.
- Employees returning to work after time off for travel, illness or known/suspected exposure to COVID-19 must complete the Return-to-Work (RTW) Screening Questionnaire (https://www.uthct.edu/rtwsq) and receive approval from the Occupational Health Department before coming back on campus.
- Employees who have been directed to return to campus after exclusively working remotely are also required to complete the questionnaire and receive approval from the Occupational Health department before coming back on campus.
- Your Return-to-Work Screening Questionnaire must be completed no later than 3 p.m. the day before your intended return to work. If return to work is on Sunday or Monday, it must be completed by no later than 3pm the Friday before. Occupational Health will make determinations on Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you develop symptoms over the weekend, please stay home and contact Occupational Health on Monday.
- Occupational Health must be notified immediately if an employee has been tested for COVID-19 and once results have been received, so that Occupational Health can give the employee guidance about safely returning to work. You must stay home from work if you are sick and/or have been tested and awaiting results. Filling out the RTW survey is the preferred method of contact with Occupational Health about these issues. Should you need to clarify anything further, please email Occ Health at email@example.com.
- Supervisors may not authorize employees who have taken time off or those who have been working remotely to return to campus without approval from Occupational Health. We are closely tracking information related to COVID-19 and need to be promptly made aware of any concerns.
Travel and COVID-19
Please remember that – despite the phased reopening by the State of Texas – we are still in a critical phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical distancing continues to be recommended to decrease spread of this illness. Following these safe practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is strongly advised: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html.
- Business travel on behalf of UTHSCT continues to be suspended except under extraordinary circumstances.
- Additionally, personal travel outside our region (defined as more than 125-150 miles) continues to be discouraged. Travel by common carrier (public airlines, buses, trains, etc.) is especially problematic. If you must travel for personal reasons, use of a personal vehicle is preferred due to the inability to practice social distancing on common carriers.
- Occupational Health cannot make return-to-work decisions before you travel. If you choose to travel, you may be subject to quarantine upon your return.
Submit your announcements …
Announcements for the Important Stuff Joe Knows newsletter must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before the item is to appear in the following Tuesday’s newsletter. Submit announcements here: https://www.myuthealthnews.org/submit-announcement. Publication of The Friday Forecast event calendar is suspended during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Early submissions are always welcome!
Important Stuff Joe Knows is a weekly newsletter published by Joseph Woelkers, EVP & COO of The UT Health Science Center at Tyler, firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails to this address will not receive a personal response.