Student Health Service Home
Columbia Univeristy Medical Center

EBOLA VIRUS IN WEST AFRICA: Health and Travel Advisories

Columbia University has determined to restrict student, faculty, and staff travel to three West African countries for any purpose other than to contribute to efforts to contain and eliminate the Ebola outbreak. Clinical students must not be the first contact with any patient in an Emergency Room or other similar setting presenting with suggestive symptoms.  Screening processes are in place in these clinical settings, and if a patient is cleared, a student can then be assigned to the care of that patient by their appropriate supervisor. If a patient were to be identified as having Ebola disease, or is isolated for suspicion of Ebola disease,  students should not be involved in the care of this patient.


Members of the Columbia community with questions or concerns can contact the Ebola Information Line at 212-854-8300.


For more information click here.


The CUMC Student Health Service is closely monitoring the information and recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and the New York City Department of Health in regard to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, with more cases appearing each week. In response to the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging all United States residents to avoid non-essential travel to these countries.  CUMC Student Health wants to make sure our students are aware of this warning and has developed a protocol, described below, to help protect the health of our students who must travel to this area. 

If you have to travel to Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, or Mali, you must adhere to the following protocol:
  • Prior to your trip, come to the CUMC Student Health Service for medical advice. 
  • Review the CDC Travel Guidelines available at
  • Upon your return to the United States, call SHS from your home at 212-305-3400 and speak to a clinician before coming to school or work. 
  • Do not return to school or work until you have had a phone interview with an SHS clinician, and receive clearance to return. 

The CDC has currently issued a level 3 travel warning for the countries affected by Ebola as well as neighboring countries. Level 3 is defined as all non-essential travel to affected and neighboring countries should be avoided. Members of CUMC community are strongly encouraged to follow the CDC and U.S. State Department’s cautions regarding travel in this region. Travelers returning from this region are being advised by the CDC as follows:

Persons returning from an affected area but have not had direct contact with the body fluids of symptomatic infected persons or animals, or objects that have been contaminated with body fluids, should monitor their health for 10 days. Those with a potential exposure should monitor their health for 21 days post exposure. Regardless, any traveler who becomes ill, even if only a fever, should consult a health-care provider immediately.“

For more information on the CDC’s on going monitoring of the situation, please go the following link:

For more information on the local level from the New York City Department of Health, please go to the following link:

Concerned students are encouraged to contact the CUMC Student Health Service with any questions or concerns at (212) 305-3400.

New Advanced Access Scheduling for Medical Services

The CUMC Student Health Service is excited to announce that starting June 10, 2013, we will be piloting a new scheduling model, Advanced Access, for medical services. This model does not include scheduling for Mental Health or Wellness appointments.

What is Advanced Access?

Advanced Access will allow us to provide you with more timely care. It will allow patients, in most cases, to be seen on the same day that they call or go online to schedule an appointment, whether for an urgent concern or for a routine appointment (e.g., physical exam, gynecological exam, chronic disease management visit, travel consult, etc.).

Will I always be able to get a same day appointment?
Advanced Access means that in most cases we will be able to accommodate same day appointments. However, it relies on having some flexibility with the timing of your appointment during a given day. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate all students at the same time. However, we typically have between 200 and 250 clinician appointments per week and serve a community of 3500 students.

How does Advanced Access work?
• On the day you would like to be seen, please go to the web portal at to schedule an appointment.
• Select the appointment type – either “routine GYN/physical exam”, or “medical/GYN problem” – and select the current day.
• You will see a list of available appointments and clinicians. Select the closest time and the clinician of your choice. We encourage you to maintain continuity with one clinician whenever possible.
• If you do not see availability with your clinician, you may see another clinician on the same day or look to the next day when your clinician is available.
• You may also schedule via telephone by calling 212-305-3400, extension 1, though the online method is more expedient.
• When you arrive at Student Health for your appointment, check in with the front desk.
• If you have scheduled a GYN or physical exam, please arrive 10 minutes prior to your appointment time so your vital signs can be taken.

For PPDs, immunizations, allergy shots, prescription refill requests and forms:
• Go to the Student Health Services clinic in person and see the nurse rather than scheduling with a clinician.
• Travel immunizations require a clinician appointment for a travel consult prior to seeing the nurse for the immunizations.

If you are unsure if your visit requires a clinician appointment, please stop by and see the nurse or call for a telephone consult.

Can I schedule an appointment in advance?
Though the goal of Advanced Access is to remove the need to schedule an appointment in advance, you will be able to if circumstances require you to do so.

You may still access the CUMC on-call clinician at any time after hours via telephone at 212-305-3400, prompt 7.

We welcome your feedback on this system. Please drop a comment into the box in the waiting room letting us know if this change is working for you, if you encountered any problems, or if you have any suggestions. Alternately, you can email Dr. Melanie Bernitz, Executive Director, at


©    CUMC Student Health Service