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Employer Toolkit for COVID-19

Sections in this toolkit:
Safely Returning Employees to Work Operational Considerations Pre-shift Screening Continue to Seek & Receive Medical Care Offering Support as Your Employees Return to Work

While we are seeing good news about the flattening of the curve related to the number of COVID-19 patients, it is so important to remain vigilant in the coming months. As a community, we will move through decisions and phases of resuming new day-to-day routines. This will require all of us to maintain a high level of safety to continue protecting ourselves and others.

This has been an exceptionally challenging time, but within WellSpan and out in the community, people are truly rising to the challenge. Our community has done a remarkable job over the past few weeks to pull together and ensure those who need care in our communities can continue to access it. 

We would like to share this Employer Toolkit with you. It contains information for you to consider as your employees return to work. Some employers within our community have remained operational—and we are grateful for their necessary, life-sustaining contributions. Other employers are now in the process of reopening and returning staff to work. We understand the stress and hardships that temporary business closure has created.

For this reason, we realize that WellSpan is in a unique position to help. As a provider of employer services, a healthcare system and an employer, we want to share timely insights and learnings so your businesses may consider policies and procedures to protect the health and safety of your valued staff members.

As employers and residents, we turn to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the source of truth for news, information, guidance and mandates to ensure the safety of our families, friends and the community. Like you, WellSpan looks to these organizations as the subject matter experts. We are grateful for their cooperation in advising our teams and our internal subject matter experts to help WellSpan align our policies and procedures with their guidance.

We understand there are a lot of questions and conflicting data about how to keep employees safe, and what employers should be considering going forward as businesses get back online. Excellent guidance exists from the CDC, and state and local officials. We also understand that business leaders are struggling with how to translate that into action plans for their businesses to remain in compliance.

The Employer Toolkit will share information so you can decide how to incorporate a new set of norms and requirements into your businesses.

Safely Returning Employees to Work

It is important to continue implementing mitigation strategies until, and probably after, there is a safe, proven FDA-approved vaccine.

As employees return to work, with new safety precautions and fear of the unknown, instilling confidence that it is safe to be on-the-job can be helpful. One way you might do this is through communications and actions; by informing staff of the safety measures that are being taken.

As the CDC and DOH have suggested:

Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19, should self-quarantine and follow return to work algorithms provided on the PA DOH website. Those employees who are considered close contacts and exposed to a positive COVID-19 employee will need to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The COVID-19 positive employee will not be able to return until:

  • One day has have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

The CDC and PA DOH do not recommend repeat testing for COVID-19 positive employees prior to returning to work. Additionally, asymptomatic employees who have been on self-quarantine for 14 would not be required to obtain COVID-19 testing prior to returning to work.

Currently, WellSpan Health offers symptom-based COVID-19 testing. There are limited scenarios where we will deploy asymptomatic COVID-19 testing to members of our community.

CDC guidance:  Returning to Work for Non-Healthcare Workers After COVID-19 Exposure

Employers can refrain from requiring returning employees to obtain work excuses from their medical providers. These are not a requirement, nor recommended, by the Department of Labor or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

It’s important to remember that one COVID-19 positive staff member could lead to multiple other exposed employees. The same precautions should be taken with all. Furthermore, facilities where these employees work should undergo thorough sanitization. For guidance regarding the disinfection process and other requirements for the employer, please refer to:

There is no doubt that a COVID-19 positive staff member can cause significant service disruption in an organization. We are hearing reports of employees who are refraining from self-reporting due to fear of losing their jobs. As leaders, it is important for staff to feel supported to do the right thing. If they do not, they threaten not only the livelihood of the organization, but also those around them.

Operational Considerations

Beyond staying home when feeling sick, one of the best pre-emptive measures is to reinforce social distancing with your teams. You might need to redesign workspaces to avoid crowding, stagger shifts, wear masks and sanitize all workspaces and common areas often.

Infectious diseases are spread through contact. Remove the contact, you could mitigate the chance of contracting the disease. Remember the hygiene rules you were taught when you were a kid—wash your hands, practice respiratory etiquette (cover your cough or sneeze) and protect yourself in many instances.

In addition, respect social distancing guidelines, whenever possible. In situations where social distancing is not possible, protect yourself and others by wearing a cloth face mask. For non-clinical use, fabric masks are generally adequate. WellSpan has posted fabric mask pattern and instructions on Wellspan.org, Fabric Mask Pattern.

In our healthcare settings, gloves are worn routinely including when treating potential and positive COVID-19 patients. Likewise, when touching surfaces that are public and the sanitization practices are unknown, such as gas pumps, ATM machines and shopping carts, it might be wise to wear gloves. If you don’t have access to gloves, sanitize your hands immediately after touching these surfaces.

Consider what your sanitization protocol will be.

  • How often will you clean?
  • Who will provide the service?
  • How will they be protected?
  • What products will be used?

It is recommended that you use sanitizers that include at least 60% alcohol. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for time to be left on the surface for maximum benefit. 

You will want to establish guidelines for onsite meeting participation to ensure social distancing can be maintained. The size of your conference rooms may dictate the appropriate group maximums. Post signage in high traffic areas that reinforces these messages. WellSpan has information available in English and Spanish:

Submit those requests to wellatwork@wellspan.org

It should help to make your expectations known to your employees and any ways you plan to enforce the expectations. If you want your employees to:

  • Wear a mask and gloves
  • Cover coughs
  • Wash hands often
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Sanitize workspaces

You may also want to be especially clear in stressing the importance of staying home when sick.

Pre-Shift Screening

Those companies who are returning employees to their facilities may initiate pre-shift temperature screening as part of the return to work process without quarantine. 

Staff screening is a preemptive way of identifying potential COVID-19 positive cases. This can be as simple as reviewing a checklist of symptoms—fever, cough, shortness of breath—and administering a temperature check prior to the start of each shift. You can also require that employees stay home if they are sick. Guidance for implementing safety practices can be found here.

WellSpan Occupational Health can provide employers with training on pre-shift temperature screening and educational resources for the workforce.

We continue to provide our core occupational health services such as pre-employment physicals, DOT/CDL driver exams, work related injury and illness care, as well as DOT and non-DOT drug testing.

One prevalent question being asked is the availability of onsite testing for employees. The onsite testing we recommend is temperature screening. A digital forehead thermometer is safe and easy to administer at the beginning of each shift. We continue to explore how we can further support the needs of the employer community with additional testing options. 

Continue to Seek & Receive Medical Care

We want to stress how important it is to direct someone suspected of having COVID-19 to call their primary care provider or the WellSpan Coronavirus Information Hotline at 1-855-851-3641. That will ensure your employee gets to the right care at the right place at the right time. It could save their life.

We’ve also heard from patients experiencing serious medical issues aside from COVID-19, including behavioral health concerns, that they are choosing not to come to the hospital for care over fear of contracting COVID-19 within the building.

Because of rigorous safety measures, our hospitals remain safe places to seek care for emergency conditions. Do not delay care for emergency conditions. Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department immediately if you have a life-threatening condition.

To protect patients, WellSpan has taken the following measures within our hospitals:

  • We have dedicated COVID-19 patient care areas. Patients who have tested positive or those that are showing symptoms of COVID-19 are isolated to specific treatment areas. Those patients are treated by a care team assigned to only COVID-19 patients.
  • We have limited entry points at all hospitals. All staff, patients and visitors will enter the hospital at designated entry points where they will be screened prior to entering. Staff who screen positive are evaluated by Employee Health and Safety department before they can return to work.
  • We have visitor restrictions. By limiting visitation to specific types of patients, we can maintain social distancing and help prevent exposure to COVID-19.
  • All staff members working in COVID-19 patient care areas, screening areas and emergency departments are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection. Our staff is trained in the proper use of PPE.
  • All hospital staff are now required to wear the appropriate mask during their shift and our patients are also encouraged to wear face coverings to prevent any spread within our hospitals.

Please keep your health and safety top of mind and know we are here to provide you with the very best—and safest—care.