In February, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) activated its pandemic plan (Plan) as a preventive strategy to mitigate health risks to students, employees, and the community. The Plan, administered by an institution-wide committee, addresses emergency communication, alternative modes of delivering classes, campus restricted use or closure, gathering and events, public transportation, supplies (food, medications, equipment, etc.), infection control measures and policies, continuity planning for University operations, communication, and recovery strategies.

With the worldwide spread of COVID-19, prevention is increasingly important towards sustaining quality healthcare and ensuring its availability to the highest risk populations. As such, this week RMUoHP initiated additional levels of social distancing, hygiene, sanitization, and continuity initiatives.  

“As an institution, RMUoHP is dedicated to a people-first philosophy that includes promoting wellness over disease. The current pandemic gives us an opportunity to demonstrate these values and promote the health and safety of our students, employees, and the communities in which we serve,” said RMUoHP President Dr. Richard P. Nielsen. “Our efforts to ‘flatten the curve’ are not reactive to a worldwide crisis; rather, they represent our shared commitment to do our part in reducing the potential spread of COVID-19.”

The University has been monitoring the CDC, State, County, and Provo City recommendations. The State of Utah, through the Utah COVID-19 Community Task Force and local health departments, has shared the following:

  • Limiting mass gatherings of more than 100 people. 
  • Recommending that individuals over 60 should not participate in gatherings with more than 20 people.
  • Recommending that individuals who are immunocompromised should not participate in gatherings with more than 20 people.
  • Restricting visitor access to long-term care facilities and monitoring employees and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19.

Public and private colleges and universities in Utah and across the Nation have announced transitions to online education. At RMUoHP, all courses are already web-supported. Dr. Mark Horacek, RMUoHP Provost, commented, “We are well-equipped with sophisticated technology and expert educators to provide high-quality web-based educational programming with minimal disruption of the University and our students.” 

In addition to launching a comprehensive resource website for its students and employees to remain informed on COVID-19 updates, University planning, and access key resources, RMUoHP is implementing the following protocols effective Monday, March 16:

  • All traditionally classroom-based courses will be delivered online through the end of the semester. 
  • Winter and Summer Semester on-site visits for Post-Professional students have been canceled. 
  • As a preventive measure, residential students moving to online instruction should avoid non-essential travel.
  • Courses requiring laboratory or skills-based instruction and clinical rotations will continue with precautions. Program Directors will announce to the respective students any changes for such courses.
  • Travel moratorium to limit non-essential travel of students and employees through April 30. 
  • Cancelation of international service expeditions to Malawi and Guatemala (previously scheduled for August).
  • Temporary workplace flexibility allowing employees to work remotely, as appropriate. 
  • Cancelation, rescheduling, or virtualization of large events.
    • The April 3 Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) White Coat Ceremony is closed to anyone outside of essential DPT faculty, students, and other employees. Family members who have made travel arrangements should cancel such arrangements.
    • The April 24 Commencement Ceremony will be, at a minimum, closed to family and friends of graduating students. We are currently exploring other options that will allow students to attend commencement. Family members who have made travel arrangements should cancel such arrangements
    • Updates on the August and December Commencement Ceremonies and other White Coat Ceremonies will be forthcoming.
  • Use of phone or videoconferences for all group meetings.
  • All patients, caregivers, and volunteers for the University’s Community Rehabilitation Clinic will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to admittance for treatment. Patients with symptoms present will not be allowed into the Clinic for treatment and will be encouraged to call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line. 
  • Suspended face-to-face treatment and services at the University’s Center for Communication Disorders until May 11 (pending further developments). When appropriate, telepractice will be offered. 

The University also advocates the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations for individuals and families on everyday preventive behaviors:

  • Voluntary home isolation when any respiratory disease symptoms occur. 
  • Keep away from others who are sick.
  • Limit face-to-face contact with others (in general).
  • Practice good hygiene, including covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue that is then thrown in the trash, washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using alcohol-based sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Clean frequently-touched surfaces.

The University will remain open and continue monitoring the status of COVID-19 and provide institution-related updates via email, websites, and through social media.