For COVID-19 vaccination and booster options, see our information page.
ChristianaCare’s Center for Virtual Health monitors patients virtually; tracks COVID-19 symptoms; and monitors escalating symptoms to reduce disease transmission and hospital admission/readmissions. Patients will be enrolled in this monitoring program (daily text messages or phone calls). Please contact 302-428-2400 or VirtualHealth@ChristianaCare.org if you have any questions or for more details.
Privacy and COVID-19
At ChristianaCare, we understand that health care is a highly personal matter requiring ongoing coordination between patients and providers. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Protected Health Information (PHI) can be used and disclosed for treatment, payment and health care operations without the patient’s consent. Also, HIPAA permits health care providers to use and disclose PHI for public health and safety purposes. As health care providers are fighting outbreaks and juggling multiple clinical priorities, protecting patient privacy can be challenging. However, protecting our patients’ privacy rights, amongst other clinical priorities, is still an essential facet of the health care provider’s responsibility to ensure that our patients have an excellent health care experience.
At the onset of COVID-19, it became clear to the Privacy Office staff that we needed to accelerate our response to COVID-19-related privacy issues. To do that, we implemented the federal and state COVID-19-related privacy regulations while reminding our health care providers to avoid inappropriate uses and disclosures.
Implementation of federal and state privacy guidelines during COVID-19
The new federal and state guidelines issued in response to COVID-19 promote equal access to health care services. The federal government and the states also provided significant waivers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, the new U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) requirements:
- Prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and the exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs, including for the provision of health care services during COVID-19.
- Waive specific telehealth services requirements at the federal and state levels. For example, HIPAA-covered entities and providers may, in good faith, provide telehealth to patients using remote communication technologies, such as commonly used applications including FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Zoom or Skype, even if it does not comply with HIPAA, but not platforms that are public-facing, such as Facebook Live, Twitch and TikTok.
- Provide business associates discretionary access to the use and disclosure of PHI for public health and health oversight activities.
- Allow more flexibility for drive-through and community based-testing sites activities (retroactively effective as of March 13, 2020).
Covered Entities like ChristianaCare have flexibility in the way they handle the following patient privacy rights during the COVID-19 outbreak:
- Communication of a patient’s care issues by clinicians and workforce members to family members and friends who are involved in the patient’s care.
- The choices available to health care providers regarding a patient’s request to opt out of the facility directory.
- The distribution of its notice of privacy practices.
- Privacy restrictions and confidential communications.
However, all uses and disclosures must comply with the HIPAA Minimum Necessary requirement. ChristianaCare has implemented the guidelines as mentioned above as well as other COVID-related guidance found within the Office of Civil Rights’ 2020 News Releases.
If you have privacy-related questions, call the ChristianaCare Privacy Hotline at 302-623-4468 or email us at Privacyoffice@ChristianaCare.org.
Inquiries from the media should be directed to the External Affairs Department at 302-327-3300.
Last updated January 27, 2022