Program Director's Statement on COVID-19 Pandemic
The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine of LAC+USC Medical Center and Keck Hospital of USC take very seriously the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our hospitals carefully monitor and follow the guidelines of the CDC, the State of California, and the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.
We have discontinued all in person meetings such as morning conferences, tumor boards, departmental meetings. County meetings are being held through Microsoft Teams, and the daily morning conferences, resident and fellow interviews are being conducted through Zoom meetings.
The department has spent a month constructing a rubric for the required PPE needed by Pathologists in all areas in the County and Keck Hospital laboratories. Residents are provided access to adequate and appropriate PPE. We have N-95 masks that are fit-tested and several Personalized Air Purifying Respirator suits (PAPR) at both hospitals.
Resident and fellow office space in the Anatomic Pathology Laboratory are undergoing remodeling to better achieve social distancing between microscope stations, and the desks have been lowered to provide better ergonomics for residents and fellows.
At LAC+USC Medical Center, we feel that it is vital to the learning process of Pathology residents and fellows to have the ability to double scope with the attending staff or fellow, as there is an active and real-time exchange of questions, ideas and thoughts that can only be achieved on a teaching microscope. We achieve social distancing by restricting what teaching heads can be used, so that the attending staff and the resident or fellow are approximately 6 feet apart from one another. Consensus Conferences are conducted daily at the LAC+USC Medical Center by using 4K cameras with LCD monitors. We are currently upgrading the monitors to 70" UHD screens. The teaching microscopes are periodically cleaned a few times each day. Everyone at the Medical Center is required to wear masks. We are reminded to socially distance, avoid touching the face, and frequently washing hands after coming in contact with a high frequency touch surface.
On rotations where it is possible, residents and fellows are working from home. Residents and fellows who work from home provide the unit chief and program director with a daily diary of the activities that the house officer engages at home. Attending staff at the Keck Hospital of USC can sign-out their cases from home.
Our residents and fellows have not been re-deployed to clinical care areas, and according to the CMO, our residents and fellows will not be re-deployed to clinical care areas. If re-deployment becomes necessary, pathologists will best serve to maintain the various functions of the laboratory. However, there were residents and fellows in Pathology who have volunteered to perform testing on patients under investigation in the early part of the pandemic.
Through it all, there has not been an outbreak of COVID-19 in our department. We are committed to the safety of our residents, fellows, faculty, and staff during times of COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have.
Dr. Wesley Naritoku, MD, PhD
Program Director, Pathology Residency Training Program