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Columbia Univeristy Medical Center

Emergency Instructions for Columbia University Medical Center Students Enrolled in the Student Health Service

  • For life-threatening emergencies, call 911 and go directly to the nearest emergency room.  If this occurs when the SHS is open, have a friend call 212-305-3400 so that we can assist you with follow-up.
  • If you are uncertain whether this is an emergency, contact Student Health at (212) 305-3400. During office hours we can assist, and after-hours your concern will be assessed by the on-call clinician.

  • If you or a friend have an immediate concern about suicide, call our SHS number at 212-305-3400 and request to speak with a Mental Health Clinician. You may also call the suicide hotline at 800-273-8255 or walk yourself or friend to the Emergency Room.

  • If you have experienced a sexual assault, or a non-sexual assault with possible blood/infectious body fluid exposure, go immediately to the emergency room for evidence collection and possible post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV - ideally begun as soon as possible after exposure. This does not obligate you to file a police report. If you are enrolled in the Student Health Service, please call 212-305-3400 to report the situation to SHS or the clinician on call so that we may assist you with follow-up.

  • Click here for Occupational Blood/Infectious Body Fluid Exposure Instructions

For all other emergencies after hours, call 212-305-3400 (after # press 7) to reach the 24-hour clinician on call. We can give you advice, call in indicated prescriptions, and often save you a trip to the emergency room. (About 10% of students who call need to be sent to the emergency room. Of those who go, about 10% are admitted.)

If you go directly to an emergency room (co-pay $100 if you are not admitted), and the emergency room refers you to another physician for follow-up, you MUST get a referral from the Student Health Service first, or your referral will NOT be covered by the Student Insurance Plan. Call 212-305-3400 during business hours to make an appointment to get your referral.

Saturday Urgent Care Availability at Columbia Health at 116th Street

At the present time, students with acute issues on the weekend must go to the ER or an urgent care center to be seen, as the CUMC Student Health does not have weekend hours. To address this need, and after a successful pilot program, we are pleased to be working with our colleagues at Columbia Health at the Morningside campus. All CUMC students enrolled in Student Health will have the option to utilize the Columbia Health Urgent Care Service at Morningside on Saturdays from 10AM-3:30PM. The Columbia Health Urgent Care is located on the 3rd floor of John Jay Hall. Check the Columbia Health website at for holiday closings. Please be reminded that this service is for urgent, acute needs only, not ongoing medical concerns.

If you have an acute, urgent care need (not a long term medical concern) during these hours, go to the Urgent Care area. Please bring your CUMC student ID card with you. Upon your arrival, you will be asked to sign in and complete a brief registration form at the front desk. If you are experiencing an acute condition (such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or severe abdominal pain), you should inform the front desk before completing the form.

You will also be asked to sign a release of medical information form so your records can be transferred to Student Health at CUMC after your visit. This will help us in following up on the care you received. If after the visit, the clinician recommends you see a specialist or have an imaging study, please contact Student Health at CUMC so the appropriate referrals are generated prior to your follow-up care visit to ensure coverage.

Students are seen in order of severity of illness in the Urgent Care area. Depending on the nature of your medical concern, this may result in a significant wait time. Your cooperation and patience while waiting are appreciated. Rarely, students have conditions that cannot be fully evaluated or treated in the Urgent Care area. In these instances arrangements are promptly made for you to be transferred to St. Luke’s Hospital Emergency Department.

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

Occupational Blood/Infectious Body Fluid Exposures are an Emergency - Here & Away!

A blood-borne pathogen exposure is not JUST a needle stick, but the exposure of non-intact skin or any mucosal surface to blood or other potentially infectious body fluids (e.g., semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk, CSF, peritoneal or pericardial fluid, saliva in dental procedures, or any fluid contaminated by blood).

Follow these Steps Immediately!

  • Immediately cleanse the injury (soap and water) and
  • Immediately notify your resident, preceptor or attending to arrange for prompt counseling and testing of the source patient for HIV, HCV & Hepatitis B. Getting the source patient tested can potentially save you a month of prophylaxis, drug side effects, and many months of anxiety. Getting the source patient tested can potentially save you a month of prophylaxis, drug side effects, and many months of anxiety.
  • Let your resident know you are expected to seek medical attention immediately:
      - At the Student Health Service if you are at Columbia and enrolled in the SHS
      - At the Emergency Room if the SHS is closed or you are not enrolled in the SHS
      - If you are on an away rotation, the Occupational Health Service or Emergency Room of that hospital
  • If you are on an away or have to use the ER at CUMC, notify the SHS (days) or the clinician on call that an exposure has occurred (212-305-3400); we will be responsible for follow-up. If you are away, we will send you a questionnaire to fill out.
  • If you have the SHS insurance, there will be no charge to you!
  • If you have the student insurance, the ER bill will be paid by Chickering. SHS will pick up the $100 copay.
  • Use your insurance card for any medications prescribed. SHS will reimburse you for the copays.
  • If you have other insurance, you must pay for labs in the SHS and then submit your bills to your insurance for payment. SHS will reimburse you for copays on ER bills and prescriptions.
  • Save your bills, explanation of benefits, and receipts for reimbursement.
  • Remember, if you have not notified us, we will not know to reimburse you.

Remember the acronym  CITES
Clean, Inform (need for Immediate evaluation), Testing of source patient, Evaluation at SHS (or ER if SHS closed or you are away).

For questions about reimbursements or procedures, please contact Dr. Bernitz (; 212-342-3941) or Jackeline Paulino (; 212-342-3942).


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