Protecting Your Practice from COVID-19

You’ve probably already had to make some tough decisions re. the Coronavirus as it relates to your practice. With more than 3,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., we felt it was important to share some insightful information from the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC is constantly adding and updating information, so make sure someone in your office is assigned to checking its website frequently (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html).

Tip: Don’t require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate that illness.

3,000the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the U.S.

In Part I of this two-part series, we are sharing just some of the valuable information that’s being updated sometimes daily by the CDC. In Part 2, coming later this week, we’ll post information about creating a formal plan for your office.

Whether part of a formal plan or not, be sure that your sick leave policies are both flexible and consistent with public health guidance. Just as important, be sure that employees are aware of these policies.

PREPARE FOR STAFF ILLNESS

• DO have sick employees stay at home until “they are free of fever and any other symptoms for” [between 24-72 hours, depending on the Federal source cited], “without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).”

• DON’T require a healthcare provider’s note for employees “who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.”

• THOUGH it may wreak havoc with scheduling, adjust your policy to permit employees to stay home to care for an ill relative. Employees who are well but have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should “notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.”

• POST signage about hand hygiene, coughing/sneezing etiquette, and staying home when sick at your entrance and inside as well.

• MAKE sure you have all the supplies employees need, including tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles.

UPGRADE CLEANING

• REGULARLY clean “all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs.”

• PROVIDE disposable wipes “so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use.”

WHAT IF…

• CONFIRMED DIAGNOSIS. “If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.”

• STAFF SHORTAGE. The CDC suggests you cross-train personnel to perform essential functions so that the workplace is able to operate even if key staff members are absent.”

The above suggestions apply to broad policies and how to prevent and adapt. Later this week we will post information about actually creating a formal plan for your practice.

What are you doing to stay safe and healthy in this difficult time? Please tell us about it and share in the conversation on Facebook here.

Erinn Morgan