Woodfords Pandemic Response All-Staff Meetings – July 2020
Frequently Asked Questions
WOODFORDS PANDEMIC RESPONSE WEBINARS
Is Woodfords recording the webinar for later reference?
Yes. You can find a recorded version of the webinar, entitled “Pandemic Response All Staff Meeting” in Relias. If you were unable to attend one of the live sessions, this mandatory webinar has been assigned to you and will appear on your Learning page.
CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (CDC)
Who Owns the CDC?
The Maine and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are state and federal agencies. They are not privately owned, they are run by the government and funded through tax payer dollars. Woodfords relies on information from CDC, particularly the Maine CDC, to develop COVID-related protocols.
Why have Woodfords’ agency and program protocols changed over time?
Information about COVID-19 is constantly evolving, as are the recommendations and guidelines from the CDC, the Governor’s office, state regulatory bodies such as Office of Aging and Disability Services, Office of Children and Family Services, and Child Care Licensing, and the scientific/medical community. We are monitoring this information on a daily basis and updating our protocols as needed. As these updates occur, we will reassign protocols for review through Relias. It is important that you complete these review courses in a timely manner, so that you will have all the updated information you need to do your job safely.
What should I do if I have a question or concern about a protocol?
If you have a question or concern about your program’s protocols, contact your supervisor. Please understand that our protocols change as the CDC learns more about the virus and the level of community transmission changes, so your supervisor may have to consult with the Pandemic Planning Committee to make sure the information shared is the most current. Answers may change as protocols evolve. Please be patient and understand that we have the health and safety of our staff and consumers as our top priority.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT, MASKS AND OTHER SAFETY MEASURES
What should I do if I can’t wear a mask for my entire shift?
Staff who are working directly with consumers should wear masks at all times indoors, and outdoors when they cannot maintain a distance of at least six feet from others. Staff working in administrative buildings should wear masks at all times unless they are alone in a private work setting. If you are struggling to wear your mask while working, we suggest that you take breaks when possible to remove your mask and breathe freely, either outside or in a private space isolated from others. If you are with a consumer, please arrange coverage prior to stepping away. We understand that the ability to do this differs among programs and situations.
Those unable to wear masks due to health conditions may wear a face shield of clear plastic that extends past the chin. Staff who cannot wear a mask must provide documentation of this from their health care provider prior to wearing a face shield at work. Consumers and families will be notified of this accommodation.
If a staff member is working with a consumer outside and is able to maintain greater than 6 feet in distance, is it acceptable to take a break from wearing a mask for a few minutes?
If you are outside and able to maintain appropriate social distancing of at least 6 feet, you may take a brief break from wearing the mask, unless you have had a close contact exposure within the last 14 days. In that case, you should wear the mask at all times while delivering services.
Do I need to wear mask when I am cooking food for my consumers?
Yes. All staff in all programs should wear a mask and gloves while preparing food or completing toileting activities with consumers. If you run out of the appropriate supplies to do this, contact you supervisor who can help you replenish.
Is it true that COVID-19 can penetrate even an N95 mask, based on size of said virus?
Because COVID-19 is a new virus, there are not yet head to head trials comparing the efficacy of N95s versus surgical masks and other face coverings. However, because the N95 mask is custom-fitted to the wearer, and filters out 95% of large and small particles, it is the highest level of protection available in our work setting.
Does wearing a face mask present any hazards to your health?
The CDC recommends wearing a face covering to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 from one person to another. For non-medical personnel, the CDC recommends a cloth mask. Masks of this style will minimize the spread of respiratory droplets while allowing individuals to breathe freely. If you are unable to wear a cloth mask for medical reasons, speak to your supervisor about wearing a face shield. This alternative is allowed only with a doctor’s note.
For those working with someone confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19, the CDC recommends use of an N95 mask. This is a form of respirator, and can only be worn following medical clearance and fit-testing. If you have been cleared to wear an N95 mask, you should do so whenever working with anyone with symptoms of illness.
What do I do if I suspect my thermometer is not working properly?
We tested all thermometers for accuracy before they were distributed in the field. All office sites, residential homes, and preschools will soon be supplied with a probe thermometer (for armpit use) to verify the accuracy of the infrared thermometer if needed. It’s important to remember that individuals can run a temperature even if they don’t “feel hot,” so it is important to rely on the reading of the thermometer when conducting health screenings. If your thermometer is not reading consistently, please address this with your supervisor.
SYMPTOMS AND POTENTIAL EXPOSURES
Can I come to work if I have COVID-like symptoms due to allergies or another explained medical condition?
If you have symptoms that can be explained by a previously known condition (allergies, frequent migraines, etc.) you can come to work, provided you have a doctor’s note explaining the condition and that you are not contagious. Please communicate about this with your supervisor. If your symptoms change or worsen, you should leave work and consult your medical provider. If you develop any new symptoms, you should consult your doctor. If at any time you are questioning your symptoms, you should err on the side of caution and contact your medical provider.
If I am sick but feel better the next day can I return to work or do I need to get tested?
Our return to work protocols let your healthcare provider determine whether you should be tested for COVID-19 before returning to work. Please refer to your program’s return to work protocol for the steps you should take when you develop any symptoms.
What should I do if a family member is sick? Should I stay home?
Most importantly, encourage members of your household who are sick to consult with their health care providers. If you have no symptoms, you may still to come to work. Be sure to follow all health and safety protocols, including wearing a mask, socially distancing as appropriate and sanitizing areas you touch (if you touch it, you wipe it!). If a member of your household tests positive for COVID-19, by CDC definition you have had a close contact exposure. In this case, you should contact your supervisor immediately and follow the established return to work protocols.
I have an underlying medical condition. Am I allowed to work?
Woodfords relies on the employee’s medical provider to decide that the employee is medically fit to perform their job duties. If your medical provider determines you cannot work, documentation is required. Please communicate with your supervisor and send documentation with your medical provider’s letterhead and signature to HR@woodfords.org
What if I have someone at home who is at high risk?
If a member of your household is at high risk, preventative measures including symptom monitoring, temperature checks, social distancing, wearing a mask, and regular sanitizing are even more important to reduce the likelihood of contracting and/or transmitting COVID-19.
I can’t afford to be out of work for 10 days every time I am sick. What happens if I don’t report my symptoms?
While we recognize being out of work for 10 days is a hardship, not self-reporting symptoms is very dangerous. Coming to work sick could result in the spread of COVID-19 to your colleagues and our consumers and their families. It is critical that you refrain from coming to work with symptoms, and that you report the development of any symptoms immediately. Our new criteria for returning to work allows your healthcare provider to determine whether you are healthy enough to return to work, instead of requiring that you wait 10 days, which is designed to minimize the amount of time you need to be out of work.
What is Woodfords’ protocol for informing people of a close contact exposure and how will this be communicated to staff? Why isn’t everyone in a program notified when there is a potential exposure?
Woodfords will inform any staff or consumer known to have had a close contact exposure to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, as defined by the CDC, as soon as possible. In accordance with our protocols, those who have experienced a close contact exposure are required to undergo testing for COVID-19 before returning to work. Due to confidentiality and HIPAA regulations, Woodfords will inform only those who meet CDC guidelines for close contact exposure.
Why are some students getting sent home with a cough and runny nose for 10 days and some are not? (Just because they have allergies and get to stay at school with a cough and runny nose, they could still have COVID-19). We use the CDC symptom list as part of our health screening process. During screening, we specify “symptoms that cannot be explained by another conditions, such as allergies.” This is because many children and adults suffer from seasonal allergies, migraines or other conditions that can cause symptoms that appear on the CDC COVID-19 symptom list. Our new protocol puts the decision to test for COVID-19 in the hands of healthcare providers, who know their patients’ health histories and can more accurately determine if a symptom is due to another health condition. If someone exhibits symptoms, they will be sent home. Their healthcare provider will determine whether COVID testing is needed, and will be required to provide a note clearing the staff or student to return to programming. Once a pre-existing condition (such as allergies) is identified, we will only send the individual home for new or worsening symptoms.
TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
Can someone get infected two times with COVID-19?
Because COVID-19 is a new virus, there are many unknowns. To date, there has been no confirmation by the CDC that a person who recovers from COVID-19 and has antibodies is then immune to reinfection. For this reason, if you test positive for COVID-19 and recover, it is still important to practice all health and safety protocols.
Is it known how long after exposure leading to infection a test would come back as positive? Meaning, can one be tested “too soon” after exposure, receive a negative result, and then receive a positive test result a few days later?
Yes, it is possible. Using the CDC-developed diagnostic test, a negative result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in the person’s sample. In the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected. For this reason, Woodfords is following CDC guidelines for essential workers that indicates any person who has had a close contact exposure and tests negative for COVID-19 continue to quarantine at home while not at work for 14 days, monitor for symptoms, and retest if symptoms develop.
For COVID-19, a negative test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms likely means that the COVID-19 virus is not causing their current illness.
If we are asymptomatic and positive for COVID-19 why would it be okay to still come to work? Can’t we still transmit it to others?
An asymptomatic person who tests positive for COVID-19 can transmit the virus to others. If you test positive for COVID-19 you may not return to work even if you are asymptomatic until 10 days after a positive test and a doctor’s note clearing you to return to work or a copy of a negative test.
NEW RETURN TO WORK PROTOCOL FOR ILLNESS (COVID and NON-COVID RELATED)
What is the new return to work/services protocol for staff and consumers?
Woodfords recently changed its return to work protocol. The new return to work protocol time off due to a COVID symptom is:
- Children and staff with symptoms should be evaluated by their medical provider:
- If testing for COVID-19 is not recommended for the child or staff based on medical judgement, they may return to services or work after they are symptom free for 24 hours with no fever reducing medication. A doctor’s note excusing the absence (for staff) and clearing the individual to return to work or program (staff and consumers) is required.
- If COVID-19 testing is negative, they may return after they are symptom free for 24 hours with no fever reducing medication. A doctor’s note excusing the absence (for staff) and clearing the individual to return to work or program (staff and consumers) is required.
- If COVID-19 testing is positive, they should follow CDC guidelines for isolation, and not return until isolation is complete and the following criteria has been met:
- Three days with no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicine)
- Respiratory symptoms have improved (e.g., cough or shortness of breath)
- 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
- A doctor’s note and clearing the individual to return to work or a negative COVID-19 test is required.
Why do I have to have TWO negative COVID tests to return to work?
We have updated our protocols as the CDC has updated their guidance. Two negative tests are no longer necessary. Please see the updated return to work protocol for more information.
Do you know where we get the standing orders for testing?
A standing order is a document that allows an individual to get a COVID-19 test at any time without a physician’s referral. The CDC issues the standing orders for certain people and types of workers. We are working on obtaining standing orders for testing for all staff who work with consumers. We currently have a standing order for individuals working in residential, but not for other staff. We will share information with Program Directors as other standing orders come available. Outside of standing orders, testing is becoming more available in the state. If you need a COVID-19 test and are having trouble finding a site, please contact Human Resources and we will assist you.
What should I do if I travel out of state?
Recently, Governor Mills expanded the ability for Mainers to travel to certain states and return without following any specific protocols. As of July 3, 2020, if you travel to New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, or New Jersey you can return to Maine and resume your normal personal and professional activities immediately. At any time, you can find the most current list of states here.
If you travel to and return from a state or country outside of those listed, you must complete a Certificate of Compliance stating that you either have or will quarantine for 14 days or that you have provided evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result for a test that was administered no earlier than 72 hours of returning to Maine, or once you have returned. You may not return to work at Woodfords, unless you have the ability to work remotely, until you have either quarantined or received a negative COVID-19 test result. Evidence of this should be communicated to your supervisor and shared with Human Resources.
Do staff need an appointment to access any of Woodfords’ administrative buildings?
No, you do not need to make an appointment, but you do need to coordinate access to the building with your supervisor. If you share a cubicle space with others, you must also coordinate with them to ensure that only one person is in the workspace at a time. We ask that you continue working from home whenever possible, and only access the building to complete work that you cannot do remotely.
Can staff enter administrative offices through the employee entrances?
All employees should enter the Westbrook administrative office through the main entrance so that they can complete the health screening with the Receptionist. The side employee entrance is locked until further notice. All Manchester employees should enter through the front entrance so that they can complete the self-screening. The side entrance is locked until further notice. Employees at the Kennebunk office can enter as they normally do, and complete the self-screening upon arrival.
Can we host staff and treatment meetings at the Westbrook administrative building?
No. Please continue to meet remotely and only access the building for work tasks that you cannot complete remotely. Remember to coordinate with your supervisor before accessing the building.
Can I meet with a consumer in administrative buildings?
No. Please continue to connect with consumers outside of the building. If this is a challenge, connect with your supervisor to discuss solutions.
What are the Westbrook administrative building office hours?
The Westbrook administrative building office hours are Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. Access to the building is not available 12:00 – 12:30 pm, as the receptionist is not available to do health screenings during that time.
Are our entry cards reactivated? Can we enter after hours?
All entry scan cards have been turned off and employees are currently only able to access the building through the front door during office hours, so that they can complete the health screening with the Receptionist.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE FALL
Are programs planning on closing this fall with the possibility of the virus returning?
Woodfords, and specifically the Pandemic Planning Committee, monitors Maine CDC guidance and the state’s directives daily. We certainly hope that we do not have to close programs again, but will make those decisions based on CDC and DHHS guidelines and the prevalence of the virus in the community. At this point, we can’t predict the future as much as we wish we could. Our health and safety protocols will help us deliver services more safely than before as we move into the fall.
Does Woodfords have a plan for staff who may be home schooling or may need to be home with their children this fall?
We recognize the uncertainty of school schedules this fall is stressful for working parents. To fulfill our mission and meet the critical clinical and behavioral health needs of our consumers, Woodfords’ goal is to keep our programs as fully functioning as possible, based on CDC recommendations and state guidelines. In addition to monitoring this information, the Pandemic Planning Committee is also monitoring the possibility of any state and federal assistance packages that may be available to support employees, including working parents. If you are not able to work your scheduled hours due to your child’s altered school schedule this fall, please communicate this with your supervisor as soon as you are aware. Your program/department and Human Resources will share with you options that may be available to you.
How can staff make a request for the COVID Emergency Fund?
Staff can confidentially make a request for themselves or a consumer family by emailing COVIDhelp@woodfords.org. If you have any questions or would like more information, please reach out.