Cover Your Cough or Cover Up?

Angie SzumlinskiNews

A recent study published in Psychological Science is scary stuff! The study found that of 4,110 participants in the study, 75% said they had either hidden an infectious illness from others at least once or might do so in the future. Many of these participants boarded airplanes, went on dates, and engaged in other social interactions. What is even more disturbing? More than 61% of healthcare workers participating in the study also said they had concealed an infectious illness! 

Is it any wonder that we continue to experience outbreaks of influenza, COVID, and RSV, just to name a few? What is wrong with this picture? If you are sick, STAY HOME! In another study, participants reported the number of days they felt symptoms of an infectious illness, starting in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. More than 70% of the participants reported covering up their symptoms because it would conflict with social plans. However, a small percentage of participants cited pressure from institutional policies (lack of paid time off). Bottom line, in my humble opinion, we have become egocentric, what do I need and who cares about others. It is troubling especially when you consider the number of lives lost during the COVID pandemic. Could some of these people have a better outcome if their neighbor stayed home when they were sick? Maybe, maybe not.  

Look at your employee illness policies. Are you tracking active infections and providing support for those who are ill and call off? What are your policies regarding calling off on a weekend? Are staff required to make up the weekend? What about sick days before or after a holiday? Do staff lose their incentive pay if they call off? Trust me, I have sat in your chair, it isn’t easy and yes, staff aren’t always honest. That said, I would rather have staff call off when they aren’t truly ill then show up and spread their infection to my residents and other staff because they can’t afford to lose their incentive pay? Take a few minutes to ponder on this, it could make a difference in your facility infection rates and employee satisfaction! Remember, when your mother said to share, she wasn’t referring to illness! Stay well and stay informed!