Protecting Your Health
Our primary objective is to ensure the safety of UCI Health patients and employees while delivering world-class care at our medical center in Orange and all community locations. This includes preventive daily screening for COVID-19 of all our physicians and other healthcare providers, staff and patients.
Our infectious disease experts — who work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) — have also established rigorous infection-control and cleaning protocols for all our clinical locations.
This means we provide the full range of healthcare services safely at all our locations so you can get the care you may have postponed.
Whether you need a colonoscopy, a mammogram, a surgical procedure or treatment for complications of COVID-19, you can be confident that we are working around-the-clock to protect your safety while meeting all your healthcare needs.
COVID-19 safety measures
UCI Health offers screening and testing for COVID-19. Learn more about these services ›
How you can help
Learn how you can donate medical supplies and support healthcare workers, research and patient care ›
Is it safe to keep my appointment?
Yes. Patients face no additional risk for COVID-19 at our medical center in Orange or other clinical locations. Unless you are told otherwise, please keep all of your current appointments. Your physician may also recommend a telehealth conference for some routine appointments.
Steps we are taking
All UCI Health physicians, staff members and other healthcare providers are being screened daily for fever and other symptoms of infection. We observe strict masking, hand hygiene, social distancing and cleaning protocols to ensure a safe environment in all locations.
Under our "Code Clean" protocol, every staff member participates in a coordinated disinfection of all high-touch surfaces in their work area at regular intervals throughout the day.
Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center staff members have taken extra steps to protect cancer patients and their loved ones, wearing wristbands to show that they have been screened for COVID-19. In the infusion center, stations have been moved farther apart to observe social distancing, and extra weekend hours have been added to make sure all patients are able to receive their treatments.
These preventive measures have been adopted as part of our evolving effort to protect all UCI Health patients, staff and employees.
As a university health system that regularly treats patients with infectious diseases, our infection-prevention protocols are rigorous and time-tested. Our team of infectious disease specialists are leaders in their field, highly trained and in continuous contact with local, state and federal public health officials. We continue to monitoring novel coronavirus developments closely.
When tests for COVID-19 were in short supply nationwide, our microbiology experts labored night and day to provide tests we could process in-house to serve our patients. Our leading viriology experts are hard at work studying the novel coronvirus to develop novel treatments — and potentially a vaccine — in collaboration with colleagues across the University of California as well as leading national experts.
Our UCI Health infectious disease experts are participating in numerous COVID-19-related clinical studies, including therapeutic a clinical trial of the anti-viral drug remdesivir, which has been shown to help patients with COVID-19 recover faster. They also are assisting with local, statewide and national efforts to track the outbreak and contain the spread of virus.
Learn how you can support healthcare workers, research and patient care during the novel coronavirus pandemic ›
Call ahead if you have symptoms
If you or someone close to you has a fever (above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), cough or shortness of breath, contact your doctor's office in advance. They will advise you about next steps.
Other symptoms identified by the CDC include headache, sore throat, muscle pain, chills, chills and repeated shaking accompanied by chills, along with a new loss of taste or smell.
Should I wear a face mask?
All patients are asked to wear a cloth mask to their appointments. The masking requirement also applies to the few visitors who are still permitted to come to the medical center, including partners of women in labor and parents of NICU patients.
If patients or visitors do not have one, a cloth mask will be provided. However, we ask people to bring their own mask so that we can preserve our supply for our healthcare providers.
The CDC recommends wearing simple cloth face coverings in public to slow the spread of the virus and to help people who don't know they have the virus avoid transmitting it to others.
We also offer 24/7 UCI Health OnCall, which allows you to seek care and evaluation from the comfort of your home. This may be an option if you don't want to come to one of our locations.
Please note: OnCall is not meant to provide COVID-19 screening.
To ensure the safety of all patients and healthcare providers, UCI Health has implemented a no-visitor policy for inpatient units at Douglas Hospital and University Tower at UCI Medical Center in Orange.
These exceptions apply:
- Families may visit patients receiving end-of-life care during their last hours.
- Labor-and-delivery patients may have one spouse or significant other accompany them during their stay. No siblings are allowed.
- Parents with an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit are allowed to be with their infant, one parent at a time.
- For all other emergency services or procedures, only one support person is allowed per patient. (An exception may be made on a case-by-case basis for emergent traumas.)
In addition, patients scheduled for inpatient or outpatient surgery, or an anesthesia-based procedure, may be accompanied by one visitor or caregiver under the following guidelines:
- The visitor may accompany the patient only to a lobby area for check-in and preoperative and pre-procedural appointments.
- Masking and social-distancing practices must be observed at all times.
- The visitor must leave the premises once the patient is taken to the operating or procedure room.
- The visitor or designated patient contact will be notified afterward based on the procedure location's usual protocol.
All patients and permitted visitors will be screened upon entrances to all our locations.
The no-visitor policy also applies to:
- Adult Rehabilitation Center
- Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Gavin Herbert Eye Institute in Orange and Irvine
- H.H. Chao Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center
- UCI Medical Center pavilions
- UCI Health Neuropsychiatric Center
- All other community locations
Visitors who meet one of the exceptions above are still subject to screening. UCI Health will not allow visitors if they:
- Have signs and symptoms of illness, including: cough, runny nose, sneezing, fever, sore throat
- Have returned from any of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) high-risk countries in the past 14 days
- Have been exposed to a known COVID-19 case
- Are children ages 15 and under
- The vast majority of people who get it will have mild to moderate symptoms and do not need hospitalization.
- Children are less likely to get ill from COVID-19, but they can bring the illness home to others with compromised immune systems.
- COVID-19 is passed between people mainly through coughing and sneezing or by touching eyes, nose or mouth with hands that have come into contact with a sick person's secretions.
Tips to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Surgical face masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the virus, which causes the COVID-19, to address any concerns our community may have.
What is the 2019 novel coronavirus?
In December 2019, a new virus not previously identified in humans was found to have caused an outbreak of respiratory illness in China. The virus has since spread around the globe, affecting more than 300 million people and more than 600,000 deaths.
How does the virus spread?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person and primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
A person may also get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but to prevent this method of transmission, avoid touching your face and wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Also, routinely clean frequently touched surfaces.
Who is at risk for COVID-19
The virus infects people of all ages. However, the evidence to date suggests that two groups of people are at a higher risk of getting severe COVID-19 disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). They are:
- People age 60 and older
- People with preexisting medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer
The risk of severe disease gradually increases with age starting at about age 40. Infectious disease experts say it's important that older adults and people with underlying conditions protect themselves and, in turn, protect others who may be more vulnerable.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms can range from a very mild cold/flu-like illness to severe lung infection (e.g., pneumonia). Severe symptoms are more likely in those with underlying medical conditions, such as chronic heart or lung disease, or conditions that cause weakened immune systems (such as patients with cancer requiring chemotherapy).
The CDC has identified the following symptoms of COVID-19:
- Fever (temperature higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
- Chills and repeated shaking with chills
- New loss of taste or smell
What can I do to protect myself?
Currently, there is no vaccine for 2019 novel coronavirus.
Follow these basic steps that can go a long way in protecting you and others from virus infections:
Where can I get more information?
What we know about the 2019 novel coronavirus, formally named SARS-CoV2, is changing as more is learned about the outbreak. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website ›
UCI Health resources