Coronavirus and Flu Prevention
To: All employees and physicians of MHSI, Premier and Pure Healthy Back
As everyone knows by now the WHO has listed the Coronavirus as Pandemic. What does that mean? The following define the progression of a disease from Outbreak, to Epidemic, to Pandemic, according to Webster:
What is an “Outbreak”?
An outbreak is “a sudden rise in the incidence of a disease” and typically is confined to a localized area or a specific group of people.
What is an “Epidemic”?
An epidemic is an outbreak of contagious disease that has become more severe and less localized. It is “an outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many individuals at the same time.”
What is a “Pandemic”?
A pandemic is a widespread epidemic, an “outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population.”
The world health community continues to monitor closely the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the disease it causes, named “coronavirus disease 2019” (COVID-19). At this time, no one knows how severe this outbreak will be. Given this uncertainty, and the fact that the seasonal influenza (flu) virus is also widespread, we at MHSI are taking proactive steps to address a number of business concerns. First and foremost, we want to maintain a safe workplace and encourage and/or adopt practices protecting the health of employees, patients, visitors or others. We also want to ensure the continuity of business operations in the event of a pandemic.
We ask all employees to cooperate in taking steps to reduce the transmission of communicable diseases in the workplace. Employees are reminded of the following:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. (see handwashing guidelines)
- Cover your mouth with tissues whenever you sneeze, and discard used tissues in the trash. Then wash your hands
- Avoid people who are sick with respiratory symptoms.
- Clean frequently, throughout the day, touched surfaces.
MHSI is doing all it can to provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers, wipes and cleansers throughout the workplace and in common areas. We currently have a good supply. However, the ability to purchase additional supplies has become a challenge due to limited supplies. We are doing all that we can to keep up with the demand and looking for new suppliers to find what we need. Please remember hand washing is the preferred method for staying healthy.
Cleaning sprays and wipes will also be provided to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as telephones and keyboards, door handles, desk tops. We all have a responsibility to keep our work areas clean and patient care areas and waiting rooms wiped down and clean. It is good for our patients to see that we are keeping everything tidy and wiped down as well. So do not hesitate to take steps during the workday to wipe down common area surfaces and work areas.
Patients may be reluctant to use the Phreesia tablets. That is understandable, please offer to push the interview to their phone or tablet so that they may complete the interviews with their own device. In addition, encourage the patients to fill out the information prior to coming in for their appointment. Be sure you are wiping down Phreesia tablets after each use. All equipment, chairs, BP cuffs, should also be wiped down between each use as well. This is no different that we would/should be doing under normal circumstances, or in the days prior to this heightened awareness.
Signs are to be posted at all entry ways and patient access doors with instructions to call and reschedule if the patient is not feeling well. If a patient’s temperature is elevated that patient will be notified and asked to reschedule their appointment.
Masks have been a big question. Currently the information available indicates that masks are not effective in preventing the spread of the virus and should only be worn if a person is sick with respiratory symptoms. Therefore, if a mask is being worn it would be assumed that the person is ill. There may however be patients who enter wearing masks, believing that they are protecting themselves or because they are immunocompromised. Please check with the patient to determine if they are ill or not. If they are ill kindly ask them to call and reschedule their appointment to a time when they are feeling better. We do not have masks for patients or staff because if anyone is ill, they should not be out or at an MSHI, Premier, PHB office.
It is critical that employees do not report to work if they are experiencing respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that employees remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100 degrees F or 37.8 degrees C) or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. Many times, with the best of intentions, employees report to work even though they feel ill. We provide paid sick time and other benefits to compensate employees who are unable to work due to illness. Employees who report to work ill will be sent home in accordance with these health guidelines.
Finally, the message is do not panic. It is important that we work as professionals with our patients and our co-workers. We will support one another in the best ways that we can and keep ourselves educated with information as it becomes available. Taking the above steps to keep our work environment safe and ourselves healthy in our primary interest and goal. Thank you for your help. Stay healthy.
While we currently do not offer formal telework arrangements, [company name] will consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests from employees to work from home during this time. While not all positions are conducive to telework, those positions with primary job duties that can be effectively performed remotely will be given consideration.