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Ensuring Responsible Care

As the world’s largest academic medical center specialized in musculoskeletal health since 1863, we do not treat the COVID-19 virus. Patients who require emergency orthopedic care and have the virus are treated in isolation, following rigorous safety protocols. All HSS staff members, including doctors and nurses, are required to wear masks and other appropriate PPE and complete a COVID screening survey before they arrive for work. They are also required to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Those who show any signs of illness are advised to not come into work.

The safety of everyone who comes to HSS is our first priority. Our rigorous infection control protocols have been proactively expanded to minimize risk of exposure to the coronavirus, including:

  • Visitor restrictions: Visitors will not be permitted to accompany adult patients to any outpatient appointment, unless special assistance is required. Pediatric patients 21 years of age or younger may have one designated visitor.
  • Pre-screening of all patients, visitors and staff
  • Pre-testing for the coronavirus of all patients scheduled for surgery, and rescheduling of those who test positive
  • Requirement that all staff wear masks and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all HSS facilities, and that all patients, visitors and staff wear masks and perform hand hygiene while at HSS facilities
  • Social distancing protocols and reminders at all HSS locations
  • Rigorous disinfection protocols to help ensure a safe and clean environment

What to Expect During Your Visit to HSS

Please see below for videos that explain our new protocols, as well as answers to common questions on how we are keeping you safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Preparing for Your Visit to HSS

What to Expect at Your Appointment at HSS

What to Expect Before Your Surgery at HSS


Questions about your visit?

If you have nonmedical questions related to visiting HSS, communication with family and friends on the day of surgery or after, or anything else not addressed below, please call our patient and family resource line at 212.774.7547.

Safety Precautions at HSS: FAQs


Can someone come with me to my physician visit or other outpatient visit (i.e., radiology, physical therapy, presurgical screening, COVID-test visits)?

At this time, in an effort to proactively social distance and for the safety of our patients, visitors, and staff, visitors will not be permitted to accompany adult patients to any outpatient appointment, unless special assistance is required.

Pediatric patients 21 years of age or younger may have one designated visitor.

We encourage patients to keep in contact with their loved ones during their appointments through virtual means, including Skype, FaceTime and/or phone. Staff will assist patients if needed.

How do COVID-19 travel advisories affect my visit to HSS?

HSS is in constant communication with local and federal agencies to ensure our screening process includes the latest travel advisories. In accordance with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), any individuals who travel outside of New York and the states that border New York (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont) must quarantine for 14 days or “test out” of quarantine early through testing and a shortened quarantine.

If you have traveled internationally, “testing out” is not an option and HSS requires a 14-day quarantine prior to being seen. Please contact us to reschedule your visit or to potentially switch to a virtual visit.

Please review HSS travel guidance for patients for complete details.

As part of the screening process to ensure everyone’s safety, we will be asking all patients and visitors in all HSS locations (NY, NJ, CT and FL) about their travel history.

How is HSS screening patients before their appointments?

We have multiple safety protocols in place and are doing several rounds of screening before patient appointments.

  • We are limiting the number of entrances to ensure that all patients are screened before they enter our facilities.
  • Before arriving, all patients are screened for COVID-19 symptoms by phone.
  • Patients will also receive a text message with a link to a screening survey on the day before their visit or surgery depending on their provider. We ask that you please fill it out ahead of time so that you can get in quickly.
  • When you arrive, we will check your temperature and may ask you to complete another screening questionnaire.

Please note that the thermometers used at HSS require that they briefly touch your forehead. These thermometers give the most accurate temperature reading, which helps us further ensure your safety. All thermometers are cleaned with alcohol between patients.

What can I do to limit the time I spend in the waiting room?

We have taken several steps to limit the time patients spend in waiting rooms. We have also made changes to limit the number of people you will need to interact with as well as the objects you will need to touch.

  • You will be asked to complete your paperwork electronically before you arrive for your appointment. Please make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. You may also receive a phone call to see if you need any help completing this information ahead of your visit.
  • Depending on the location, you may receive a text message notifying you when we are ready for you to enter the building.
  • Rather than checking out, you can leave immediately after your visit. Your doctor or their office staff will call you to discuss next steps.

Are doctors, nurses and other staff screened for COVID-19 before starting work?

All staff members, including doctors and nurses, are required to complete a COVID screening survey before they arrive for work. They are also required to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Those who show any signs of illness are advised to not come into work.

What kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) will staff be wearing?

All clinical staff will be wearing masks and eye protection. Other staff, such as registrars, will be wearing masks. This is in alignment with all current guidelines from New York State, New York City and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Will you provide me with any protective gear?

We will provide you with a surgical mask when you arrive at HSS if you don’t already have one. We also ask that you use our hand hygiene stations when you arrive and whenever asked to do so by a staff member.

How are you cleaning exam rooms and other spaces?

All clinical areas are continually cleaned to the highest standards. Indeed, our infection control policies set the standard for others to follow. Here is how we are cleaning individual spaces:

Examination and Inpatient Rooms

  • wiping down all tables, surfaces, counters, controls, equipment and monitors with electrostatic EPA-approved disinfection spray technology after every patient visit
  • disposing of all trash, regulated medical waste and paper products in dispensers after every patient visit
  • removing any unnecessary objects or equipment

Waiting Rooms

  • removing or reconfiguring furniture to ensure there is enough space for social distancing
  • adding hand hygiene stations throughout
  • regular cleaning with approved disinfection spray

Will you test me for COVID-19 before my surgery?

Yes, all patients will be tested for COVID-19 ahead of surgery and other key procedures (such as pulmonary function testing). This ensures your safety and the safety of our staff.

Presurgical screening will include a blood test to look for COVID-19 antibodies and possibly a chest X-ray. On the day of surgery (or the day before), you will receive a nasopharyngeal swab test (done with a cotton swab in the nose) to test for COVID-19 virus. We will help you arrange this testing.

If we determine you are COVID-positive, you will be asked to reschedule your procedure for a later date.

If I’m having surgery, can I have visitors?

Adult patients having inpatient surgery at the Main Hospital will be allowed one (1) designated visitor over 18 years of age during specified visitation hours of 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Visitors must remain in the patient room at the patient's side during these visitation hours. Visitors are not permitted in any other areas, including preoperative and postoperative units, family atriums and waiting rooms.

Visitors will not be permitted to accompany adult patients having same day (ambulatory) surgery at the Main Hospital. Visitors will not be permitted to accompany adult surgical patients at the ASC of Manhattan and West Side ASC. Visitors are permitted at drop-off and pick-up only.

Pediatric surgical patients at the Main Hospital, ASC of Manhattan or West Side ASC are allowed one (1) designated visitor over 18 years of age.

Without exception, visitors who do not pass the screening process including a temperature check will not be permitted to enter the hospital. Visitors will be provided a mask to be worn at all times and will be asked to perform hand hygiene.

Visitors are not permitted for patients receiving aerosolized procedures including nebulizer treatments, high flow oxygen and Bipap, or testing positive for COVID.

Accommodations will be made for palliative care, end of life, and patients with medical conditions requiring physical, emotional, or guardianship support. Need will be determined on an individual basis by Service Excellence, Security, Pediatric and/or Nursing Leadership. Visiting hours for those who meet the exceptions above are from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.

HSS may suspend visitation at any time.

How is social distancing practiced at HSS?

“Social distancing” means keeping at least six feet of space between yourself and others.

At HSS. we have taken the following steps:

  • adding markings on floors, in elevators and in other areas to show where to stand or move to maintain social distancing
  • removing or moving seats in waiting rooms and patient rooms to allow for social distancing
  • adding plastic screens at check-in desks as a barrier between patients/visitors and HSS staff
  • requiring face masks for patients, visitors and staff at all times, even when more than 6 feet from others

Inpatient rooms have also been set up to allow social distancing between patients, and between visitors and patients.

We ask that you please follow these guidelines to keep everyone safe.

Will someone be allowed to pick me up when I leave?

Yes, your loved ones can pick you up from the front entrance of hospital when it is time for you to return home.

Will I still be able to have my postsurgical appointments and physical therapy? Can I do them virtually?

Postoperative care, such as X-rays and other imaging tests and physical therapy, is critical to your recovery. You will be able to come to HSS in person for these appointments.

Also, you can work with your doctor to create a plan that allows you to receive as much care as you want and are able to have virtually. Together, you can determine if your postoperative imaging is essential and, if so, the best location and timing for this to be done.