As California ends its COVID-19 State of Emergency, updating statewide guidelines for health care settings, Keck Medical Center of USC has announced important policy adjustments for testing and masking. The changes will go into effect on March 20, 2023 and will also apply to all Keck Medicine of USC ambulatory sites.

USC Arcadia Hospital and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital maintain slightly different policies, due to considerations for their patient populations and facility layouts.

In an email to Keck Medical Center employees, Marty Sargeant, CEO of Keck Medical Center, and Smitha Ravipudi, CEO of USC Care & Ambulatory Services, noted the importance of maintaining the highest levels of safety for patients and caregivers.

“As the nature and impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve, so too will our systems and processes related to its containment and treatment,” Sargeant and Ravipudi said in the email.

COVID-19 tests no longer required for asymptomatic patients 

Keck Medical Center will no longer require a COVID-19 test for asymptomatic patients upon admission to Keck Hospital of USC or USC Norris Cancer Hospital (testing will be left to the discretion of a patient’s provider should they feel a test is necessary for a particular procedure).

Only patients who are symptomatic will be required to undergo a PCR test prior to admission. Additionally, pre-procedure COVID-19 testing at both hospitals will no longer be required.

These updates come as Los Angeles County moves COVID-19 testing beyond crisis mode and into standard health care services.

Employee vaccination policy remains in effect

Keck Medicine’s requirement for employees to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 remains in effect.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after a single dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

At this time, only a first booster dose is required by Keck Medicine. A second booster is not a requirement.

Masking requirements to remain in clinical settings

The latest guidance requires indoor masking for clinical settings. This includes any Keck Medicine location where staff interact with, could interact with, or care for patients.

Masks are encouraged, but not required, in administrative areas that are not on the same floor or level as patient-care areas.

Unvaccinated or non-boosted individuals must continue to mask when indoors in all settings.

For breakrooms within clinical settings, masking will be required unless an individual is eating or drinking. Masking is required within hallways and lobbies where patients travel in order to secure the protection of immunocompromised individuals.

—Michael Juliani