October 2022 Announcements
By Office of Communications & Marketing | Oct 1, 2022
National Health Care Facilities and Engineering Week
Each year, in October, we celebrate the important role that facility team members have in ensuring a safe, pleasant, and efficient environment for all students, faculty, patients, staff, and visitors within our Campus. This year, National Health Care Facilities and Engineering Week is October 23-29, 2022.
When there is a water leak, or your office is too hot or too cold, the first thing you think of is to call Facilities Management & Development (FM&D). However, the department’s role is so much more. FM&D is a group of dedicated professionals charged with the stewardship of our Campus. Its staff of architects, individuals with expertise in engineering disciplines, skilled construction trades, planning, project management, environmental health and fire safety, code and regulatory compliance, budgeting, and operations, keep our classrooms, labs, and hospital areas clean, safe, and pleasant. In addition, 24/7/365, FM&D keeps the heat on and the water and power flowing so that everyone at Downstate can continue to focus on delivering our mission of education, research, and patient care.
In essence, the myriad parts of FM&D is to plan, design, build, operate, and maintain our Campus.
Day in and day out, FM&D is working to make Downstate the best it can be. The staff helps bring us many points of pride that make Downstate a place we want to be. Some projects you know about are the Public Health, Academic and Research Building, the Medical Library, and a new face for University Hospital at Downstate in its Transplant, PICU, and Imaging Services areas.
There are also many efforts that we do not see. Still, our house could not continue to function without projects such as replacing all of the Campus’ boilers or the Hospital’s electrical and medical gas systems being upgraded. It is continually working with Campus Leadership to improve Downstate’s future.
Let’s all use this week to appreciate all that FM&D does for us, as we thank them for the wonderful work they do every day.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program Limited Waiver
As you have been advised, now for a limited time, it is easier than ever to receive PSLF to get credit toward forgiveness. The “limited PSLF waiver” refers to the time-limited changes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) rules that allow borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF. This opportunity ends on Oct. 31, 2022.
Additional guidance for state employees has been provided by New York State Department of Financial Services. Please review guidance at http://hrlib.downstate.edu/2/memo/PSLF_Information.pdf and for more information on PSLF, you may view the following video at http://hrlib.downstate.edu/cms/modules/pageup/pslf.php. You cannot access either link via mobile device. You must do it from your on-campus computer.
When completing the application, please ensure that you reference SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University as the employer. Our FEIN is 146013200. You must also sign the application and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of our team will review, sign and return it to you.
A Message From University Police and Public Safety
Dear Campus Community,
Effective October 12, 2022 the ID Card office is relocating from the current location at 825 New York avenue to the University Police facility at 750 New York avenue (corner of Clarkson and New York avenues).
University Police Department
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Update
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program has shared additional guidance for state employees, as provided by New York State Department of Financial Services.
Now, for a limited time, it is easier than ever to receive PSLF or get credit toward forgiveness, if you have not yet served 10 years.
Click here for more information on PSLF, or see the an informational video here. Submit your PSLF application by October 31, 2022 deadline to email@example.com. A member of our team will review, sign and return it to you.
Healthcare Worker Bonuses (HWB) Update
We appreciate our employees’ patience while we were awaiting further guidance from the State regarding health care bonuses for our valued employees. We recently received additional details and clarification about the healthcare worker bonus program for NY State employees and wanted to share this information with you right away.
All of the following requirements must be met for bonus eligibility:
- Front-line health care and mental hygiene practitioners, technicians, assistants, and aides that provide hands-on health or care services to individuals; or
- Employees that support the provision of patient-facing health care services in front-line settings provided within a patient care unit of a hospital or other institutional medical setting covered under Article 28 of the Public Health Law, in support of treating and caring for patients.
- Qualified Titles
- Must be employed in one of the state titles deemed eligible by the State. A list of eligible titles can be found here: State Agency Qualified Titles | Budget Bulletin D-1200 (ny.gov)
- Qualified Hours
- Must have worked an average of at least 20 hours per week in a qualified vesting period and must have worked in an eligible title throughout the entire vesting period. Vesting periods are outlined below.
Qualified Salary Limits
- Employees whose earnings did not exceed $125,000 over the course of a vesting period for annual salaried employees or $62,500 for non-annual salaried employees, over the course of a vesting period.
- Bonus Amounts
- Eligible State employees will receive the following bonus amounts over the course of a qualified vesting period for up to two (2) vesting periods and up to $1500 per vesting period. The combined maximum total bonus amount for the two vesting periods is $3,000.
Average Hours Worked per Week in the Vesting Period
30 - 37.4
- Downstate Health Sciences University employees who meet all of the above eligibility criteria will receive bonus payments as follows:
- Vesting period one (1) will be paid on October 26th
- Vesting period two (2) will be paid on November 9th
Please see Frequently Asked Questions below:
Q: Do I need to complete an attestation form or any other paperwork?
A: No, State employees will not need to complete attestation forms. Instead, Downstate will ensure all eligibility criteria are met before submitting bonus payment claims to the State.
Q: My work involves supporting patients, but my State title is not on the eligible list of titles. Will I get a bonus?
A: The list of eligible titles was determined by the State and we are not permitted to submit bonus applications for any employee whose state title is not included on the list of eligible titles.
Q: Is the bonus taxable income?
A: The bonus is considered supplemental wages and will be included in the employee’s taxable gross subject to all Federal and non-New York State income taxes. These earnings, however, are exempt from both New York State and local income taxes regardless of whether the employee lives out-of-state. To determine how the bonus payment may affect your specific situation, please consult with a tax professional.
Q: Is an employee who was out on disability (FMLA, COVID Leave, etc.) during the vesting period, but is still an active employee, eligible for the bonus
A: The use of accruals or other leave, including but not limited to sick, vacation, or time used under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), shall be credited towards and included in the calculation of the average number of hours worked per week over the course of the vesting period.
Q: Who should I talk to if I have questions?
A: We anticipate a high volume of questions. Please direct your inquiries to Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lenox Road Entrance Remains Closed
This is a REMINDER that the HSEB entrance at 395 Lenox Road remains temporarily closed until further notice while the exterior doors are replaced. Access to the HSEB will be through the Grove, as per the signage leading to the Grove.
COVID-19 scanning for entry remains in process. The doors to the Grove are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Please use the entrance at 450 Clarkson before and after these hours if you need access to the HSEB.
Please contact Anthony Piscopo, Facilities Program Coordinator, with questions at email@example.com, 718-270-4668, or 347-563-0983.
SUNY Pilot Telecommuting Policy Extended through December 31, 2022
As a reminder, SUNY has extended the Pilot Telecommuting Policy until December 31, 2022.
If you are an employee whose title has been identified as eligible to telecommute, please be advised that the SUNY Telecommuting Policy set to expire for UUP, CSEA, NYSCOPBA, and PBANYS on August 31, 2022, has been extended to December 31, 2022. Therefore, if you have an approved application, no further action is required on your part.
If you have not submitted your telecommuting application and would like to participate, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Human Resources Releases new Downstate Also Receives Policy (ALR)
In conjunction with the State University New York (SUNY) Human Resources’ policy on Also Receives (ALR) that went into effect July 1, 2021, Downstate’s Department of Human Resources (DHR) is releasing its own policy and procedure on the administration of ALRs. This policy is meant to ensure we are complying with current SUNY guidance and strengthening our own internal administration of the process.
Please review the policy for details that includes a link to SUNY’s policy for easy reference and relevant Downstate forms that are required for submissions.
The implementation of this policy also requires changes in the review and approval process for ALRs. Kindly note the following:
- Departments have been advised that employees are not to take on new duties until ALRs have been approved. We will continue limiting retroactive ALR compensation requests for approval to SUNY and/or Office of State Comptroller (OSC) because the institution must reduce the number of late transaction submissions to these agencies.
- There will be instances when ALR payments must be paid retroactively due to clinical duties starting before internal approval to ensure patient safety. Departments should still strive to ensure ALRs related to clinical duties (e.g., coverage, etc.) are scheduled in advance when possible.
- All requests for ALR compensation must be submitted to DHR’s classification and compensation team (Cepeda Johnson and Douglas Chin) once the paperwork has been approved by department leadership. It is critical these reviews happen before documents are sent to Finance (Campus or Hospital) for approval to ensure the level of effort and compensation are reasonable and commensurate with the duties outlined in the justification letter. DHR will follow up with the department if there are any questions. Once the ALR is approved by DHR, the package will be sent to Finance for budgetary review/approval and then on to the President’s Office for final approval.
- Approved packages are to be returned to DHR for processing at HRTransactions@downstate.edu. The department requesting the ALR will be copied on all communications.
Also, DHR will be will be conducting a review of existing ALRs and following up with departments to confirm the duties are still being performed. For ALRs that are going on for more than six months to a year, DHR will require departments to submit updated justification letters confirming the duties are still being performed.
If you have any questions about the ALR policy and/or changes to the ALR submission and review process, please contact Jamie Grecco, Senior Associate Vice President, or Cepeda Johnson, Assistant Vice President.
Change to Entrance Screening Locations and Procedures
As a reminder, staff screeners will no longer be available for employee and visitor screening at 395 Lenox Road and 450 Clarkson Avenue.
However, all screening requirements remain in place for hospital employees. University Police will direct hospital employees for screening. Employees are required to screen and will not be granted access to the building if they do not. Below are the changes at the various entrances:
395 LENOX ROAD AND 450 CLARKSON AVENUE
- Effective September 3, 2022, screeners will no longer be present at these locations
- Hospital employees will be directed to screen at the WellScreen Machines—the machine that you are currently using for screening—located near University Police
- Visitors or patients will be directed to the appropriate entrances: 445 Lenox (visitors) or 470 Clarkson (Ambulatory patients and Emergency Department entrance)
- In the event a patient or visitor is in distress, University Police will take appropriate action to ensure the patient’s safety
REQUIRED HOSPITAL SCREENING LOCATION
445 LENOX: MAIN ENTRANCE OF THE HOSPITAL
- Patient Relations will staff this location from Monday to Friday (8 am to 4 pm). Screeners will staff all other hours
- Hospital employees must use the WellScreen machines before going from the lobby into the hospital
- All visitors must be screened before going from the lobby into the hospital
- Hospital staff at 440 Lenox, 711 Parkside, and 710 Parkside will continue with the current screening process in place
Indoor Mask Wearing Remains Mandatory for ALL HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES
As a healthcare facility under New York State Department of Health guidelines, masks continue to be required in hospitals, clinical sites, and satellite areas.
This requirement applies to ALL Hospital employees, patients, and visitors—regardless of vaccination status—at all times, in common areas. In addition, masks are still required at Student & Employee Health Services, at any COVID surveillance testing site, and on all Downstate shuttles.
Optional Indoor Masking for Non-Hospital Employees and Students in Non-Clinical Areas
Effective Saturday, September 17, 2022, President Riley has approved a policy of optional indoor mask-wearing for non-hospital employees and students in non-clinical areas of the campus.
However, indoor mask wearing remains mandatory for hospital employees and students participating in clinical activities at Downstate and affiliated healthcare facilities.
Although non-hospital employees and students are no longer required to wear masks, mask-wearing is still highly recommended.
Relaxation of the masking requirement reflects the current state of the Coronavirus pandemic in the community and on our campus. The high uptake of effective COVID-19 vaccines and increased rates of natural infections have resulted in widespread immunity within the community. These factors, coupled with the lower virulence of the circulating dominant Omicron variant, made it possible to minimize medically significant diseases, including severe illness and death.
In the past, the rate of new COVID-19 cases and the percentage of positive tests served as indicators of community transmission and were used to inform mask recommendations. However, these metrics do not reflect the risk of medically significant disease at this time of the pandemic, and their use in determining mask guidance has diminished.
Vaccination and Booster Shots:
Employees and students are highly encouraged to get boosted with the new COVID-19 bivalent booster. Additionally, the requirement of minimum mandatory vaccination status is maintained.
Employees and students are highly encouraged to obtain and have on hand home testing supplies and frequently test as indicated by the development of symptoms suggestive of COVID infection.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, or if you receive a positive COVID test:
Report to Employee/Student Health and Downstate COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing Corps via email@example.com
Isolate and wear a mask.
Notify close contacts that you have tested positive.
Mask policies may change based on COVID-19 disease severity associated with virulent variants and in accordance with local and federal guidelines and/or local conditions.
All visitors to a healthcare facility who are two years of age and older and can medically tolerate masks are required to wear a mask. For visitors to other parts of the University, mask-wearing is optional.
A Hispanic Heritage Month Discussion
October 11, 11:00 AM to 12:00 NOON
Breast Cancer Awareness Event
October 15, 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Flu and COVID Protection Fair
October 18, 19 & 20, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health
2022 SportsBall Gala
October 20, 7:00 PM
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Thursday, October 20
Wear Purple day for Domestic Violence Awareness event and Photo-Op
Check back for more information on how you can participate in the photo-op.
The New York State Deferred Compensation Plan Hosts Specialty Webinars for National Retirement Security Month
October 11, 19 & 27, 12:00 NOON
In preparation to meet retirement and financial goals, employees are encouraged to sign up for a webinar being offered by Benjamin Levy of the NYS Deferred Compensation Plan. Employees can also enroll in the plan if they haven’t done so already.
Join us for a conversation on your Social Security benefits. We will discuss Social Security eligibility, important considerations based on your age, and benefit adjustments for spouses and those who are divorced. All are welcome to attend, even if you are already taking Social Security or are not eligible, the information may be helpful for co-workers and loved ones. Please Pre-register.
Tuesday, October 11, 2022 at 12:00 pm
Join us for an update on the state of the economy for the second half of 2022 and into 2023, including the outlook for the Fed, inflation, and the prospects next year. Please Pre-register.
Wednesday, October 19, 2022 at 12:00 pm
NYSDCP: NYS Pension Webinar (NYSLRS)
The NYS Deferred Comp is joined by the NY State & Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) to give an educational presentation on the basics of the Pension and how it will help provide for your future. There will be Q & A sessions throughout the webinar. Please Pre-register.
Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 12:00 pm
Third Annual SOHP Dean’s Lecture Series: “Using Data-driven Decision Making to Improve a Clinical Practice or Program”
October 26, 5:00 PM
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
#PINKTHURSDAY in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Check back for more information on how you can participate in
the photo shoot.
Downstate Blood Drive
Join Dr. Riley for a Fall Town Hall
Tuesday, November 1
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