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Messages from the NIH Clinical center and Office of Medical services

Saliva Option Announced (9-17-2020)

This paragraph was added to the earlier announcements:

On 14 September  we began offering saliva testing in addition to mid-turbinate swab testing on the 5th floor. When you check in with the medical support assistants on the 5th floor, you will be asked whether you are there for saliva or mid-turbinate test. If you identified saliva, it is best to avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum or tobacco for at least 30 minutes before sample collection.  The bar code label will encode your answer. When you get to the area of the 5th floor where specimens are obtained you will be given a container to collect your saliva if that is what you have chosen. Otherwise you will enter a room where a nurse will collect the mid-turbinate swab just as we have been doing now for months. A whole group of staff led by Dr. Frank of DLM have completed a study to show that saliva is almost as sensitive as the mid-turbinate swab for finding COVID-19 infection. Mid-turbinate swab is still recommended as first choice but saliva is a good second choice for anyone still struggling with having a swab inserted into their nose.


Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing of NIH Staff NOT in Groups 0, A, or B (8-26-2020)

The NIH Clinical Center has established a program for testing asymptomatic staff for SARS-CoV-2. If you are not yet eligible to return to the physical workspace (not a member of Groups 0, A, or B) you are still eligible to be tested in this program. While this program was launched with the focus on those already working on site, we have sufficient capacity to provide testing for those who have not returned yet. The program is voluntary but strongly encouraged for those working onsite.

(The testing directions are identical for all groups; see below.)

James K. Gilman, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NIH Clinical Center


Asymptomatic Covid-19 Testing of NIH Staff in Groups 0, A, and B approved to work on site (8-19-2020)

The NIH Clinical Center has established a program for testing asymptomatic staff for SARS-CoV-2 in Groups 0, A, and B approved to work on site.  You are receiving this email because you are eligible to participate in this program. The program is voluntary but strongly encouraged for those working onsite.

To participate, go to to sign up for asymptomatic testing for SARS-CoV-2.  You must take the following actions to be scheduled for asymptomatic testing:

  1. Read & acknowledge the Privacy Act notice.
  2. Establish an account in the patient portal using your personal cell phone and email account.
  3. Sign up to get tested.

NOTE:  Please use either Chrome, Firefox, IE Edge, or Safari web browsers.

Location of Asymptomatic Testing:

Please access the NIH Clinical Center Building 10 complex via the North or South entrances.  Upon entry, you will be screened and given a surgical mask, which must be worn at all times while you are in the Clinical Center

Proceed directly to the 5th floor Atrium area to check in for your test at your scheduled time; a map of the testing area is shown below.

  • From the North Elevators, enter the red or yellow queues on either side of the atrium keeping social distance by standing on the marked “X”’s and proceeding when the one ahead opens up.  Continue around the atrium towards the check-In area.
  • After checking-in, you will be prompted to enter through the SE 5-4400 Corridor and follow the X’s down the hall.  When you arrive in the middle of the corridor, you will enter the Testing Area door (on the right) where you will be directed to enter a testing room.
  • After your test is completed, exit the testing area into the SE 5-4400 corridor and turn right.  Continue to walk down the corridor and exit through the door at the end of the hallway.  Take the elevators at the end of the SE corridor, proceed to the first floor and immediately exit the building.

James K. Gilman, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NIH Clinical Center

Foil the Flu – NIH Annual Seasonal Influenza Immunization Program to be Offered this Fall (8-19-2020)

Although the specifics are still being finalized, the NIH wants to reassure staff, Foil the Flu, the annual seasonal influenza immunization program for NIH employees and contractors, is scheduled to begin in late September/early October.

Unlike past years, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, no walk-ins will be allowed. The entire immunization campaign will be by appointment only. Clinics will be available both on and off the main campus (and at satellite locations), recognizing that some employees currently in a maximum telework situation may prefer to come to an off-campus site instead of the main campus. Strict adherence to physical distancing and face masks will be an integral aspect of the clinic.

All federal employees and contractors with a valid NIH identification badge are eligible and encouraged to receive flu vaccine for free and are encouraged to be immunized against the flu. The best way to reduce the risk of getting the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year. All staff who have patient contact in the Clinical Center, including employees and contractors, are required to get immunized each year.

The NIH will share additional details once exact dates and locations have been finalized. When available, details about this year's campaign will be posted on the Foil the Flu website: (At this time, the information on the site is from last year).

Foil the Flu is sponsored by the NIH Office of Research Services/Division of Occupational Health and Safety/Occupational Medical Service and the NIH Clinical Center/Hospital Epidemiology Service.


COVID-19 Assessments Available for All NIH Staff with a PIV Card (4-21-2020)

For many at NIH, this is Week 6 of major life changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we are encouraged as employees continue to incorporate necessary precautions to stay healthy and safe, community spread of the virus is a constant threat. In the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area alone, the number of cases continue to climb. 

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or are concerned you may have contracted SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, first call your healthcare provider. The next step should be to contact the NIH Occupational Medical Service (OMS) by submitting the OMS online questionnaire ( The clinical staff will review your answers and contact you within 24-48 hours. 

If your doctor or OMS determines that you need to be tested and you are located in the DC/Baltimore area, you can be quickly and conveniently tested free of charge on the main Bethesda campus. Testing is held 7 days a week, from 9am – 12pm (noon). If located elsewhere, OMS will help you find a nearby testing site. If tested elsewhere, please let OMS know your results.

Regardless of where you are located – from North Carolina to North Bethesda, all NIH staff with an NIH PIV Card (FTE, contractor, trainee, Children's Inn employee, IRTA, security guard, parking attendant, volunteer, custodial staff) who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are eligible and encouraged to be assessed by OMS at no cost.

For more information, visit the NIH Employee Coronavirus Website at: To receive useful safety and health information, visit and join at  

If you have questions, please contact OMS at 301-496-4411 or Keep yourself, your family, and co-workers safe. Help promote a culture of safety, not silence, by getting assessed and tested if you need it!