As providers under siege with the COVID-19 Pandemic, the last thing you need to worry about is being sure you are meeting ADA and EEOC requirements. Here is a “reader’s digest” cheat sheet from the most recent postings on how to manage day-to-day operations! Be well, stay safe and as always, please be sure to contact HealthCap if you need assistance!
Reduce Transmission Among Employees
- If a staff member is not feeling well; fever, cough, shortness of breath, they should call their supervisor and stay home
- Staff members should not return to work until they have been cleared with a physician note; or emergency state orders allow them back sooner
- If a staff member becomes ill or symptomatic during their shift, they should be removed from contact with other staff members, residents and visitors immediately and sent home for self-monitoring/isolation/quarantine
- Staff can lessen the risk of spreading the infection by protecting themselves
- Understanding the virus; how it spreads etc.
- Clean and sanitize flat surfaces frequently; at least once/day or in between resident use
- Covering nose and mouth with a mask or cloth covering
- Washing hands frequently; when soiled, after touching your face, coughing/sneezing, removing gloves, in between assisting residents
- Using hand sanitizers when soap/water are not available
What happens when the call-ins start?
As an employer during a pandemic situation, you HIPAA permits you to ask the employee if they are exhibiting symptoms of the current pandemic, COVID-19.
- Does the staff member have complaints of shortness of breath, a dry cough, fever or sore throat?
- Have they been tested?
This information is to be maintained in the staff members confidential medical record per the American’s With Disability Act (ADA) recommendation that documentation pertaining to an employee’s health/medical status be maintained separate from the personnel file.
Understanding that some staff may call in as a direct result of fear or panic:
- Are you equipped to handle staffing challenges?
- Do you have a contract with home health agencies to staff your building in the time of crisis?
- Are the contract agencies prepared to provide staffing and what does that look like?
- How are agency staff being oriented to the building and your residents; especially when working with those living with Dementia.
Hiring or Freeze? To hire or not to hire. Things to think about when hiring new staff during a pandemic.
- As an employer, you may medically screen prospective employees once a job offer is made; providing it is the same screening process for other jobs that require the same or equal tasks. This is usually something that is completed during a pre-employment physical where the prospective employee agrees to the testing/screening process.
- You cannot withdraw a job offer to a person considered “high risk” for contracting the virus; however, the CDC does permit a delay of the start date if the applicant is symptomatic of the COVID-19 virus
Does the employer have the right to screen employees entering the workplace during a pandemic? Absolutely! Keep in mind that a fever is one of the most common signs/symptoms of COVID-19 however each person reacts differently to the virus and may not present with a fever. It is important to remain current with these signs/symptoms as they are changing rapidly based on experience and continuing research efforts. Establishing communication with the CDC, local health departments and state licensing bodies is always a good start as they can guide you through the latest updates for symptoms; such as loss of smell or taste, conjunctivitis, etc. Maintain documentation of employee/visitor these checks in a confidential file. Also, when using a log to document wellness checks, ensure that there is a cover page over the log and it is not left unattended.
When an employee returns to work post illness; whether it be the pandemic virus or other illness, the employer can and should consider requiring some sort of release back to work from a licensed healthcare professional. This assists in ensuring that the staff member is adhering to restrictions such as light duty/no transfers etc.
Be well, stay safe and thanks for all you do for our residents and caregivers!