By MedExpert | Mar 09, 2020
MedExpert Employee Handbook Addendum:
Infectious Disease Outbreak Plan & Policy
The following is MedExpert’s Addendum to the Company Employee Handbook. MedExpert is publishing this addendum following repeated requests and interest. There is no copyright on this document
The severity of illness or how many people will fall ill from COVID-19 is unknown at this time. Responses to the outbreak will be assessed on a geographic basis. The following plan is instituted for the current low risk level.
MedExpert will monitor the CDC and its partners for local, national and international data on the severity of illness caused by COVID-19. Additional recommendations will be made as needed.
MedExpert and all employers need to consider how best to decrease the spread of acute respiratory illness and lower the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace in the event of an outbreak in the US. This plan includes: (a) reducing transmission among staff, (b) protecting people who are at higher risk for adverse health complications, and (c) maintaining business operations. Some of the key considerations when making decisions on appropriate responses are:
- Disease severity (i.e., number of people who are sick, hospitalization and death rates) in the community where the business is located;
- Impact of disease on employees who may be at higher risk for COVID-19 adverse health complications. Inform employees that some people may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.
- Prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members, dismissals of early childhood programs and K-12 schools due to high levels of absenteeism or illness:
- MedExpert will monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace. MedExpert must implement plans to continue our essential business functions in case an employee experiences higher than usual absenteeism.
- MedExpert will cross-train personnel to perform essential functions so that the workplace is able to operate even if key staff members are absent.
- MedExpert will coordinate with state and local infectious disease authorities for timely and accurate information to help guide appropriate responses in each location where operations reside. Since the intensity of an outbreak may differ according to geographic location, local health officials will be issuing guidance specific to communities.
MedExpert will follow basic guidelines set forth by the CDC and other national guiding policies to prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. This policy also provides guidance and planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19.
Updates regarding workplace policies are also available on CDC’s web page at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/covid19.
MedExpert Low Risk Policy
MedExpert recommends that sick employees stay home:
- In accordance with current CDC policy, employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
- MedExpert maintains a sick leave policy; check our sick leave policy in the MedExpert Employee Handbook.
- MedExpert will not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
- MedExpert will maintain usual policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. MedExpert is aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care of sick children or other sick family members more than is usual.
- If you are personally affected by an infectious disease you may select to work remotely. If you provide customer service (MIC, MD), speak to your supervisor and then contact IT to “check out” a laptop for home use. Please note: MIC and MMD, you will be paid on “MIPS” connect time. This is not the same as system access time and requires that you maintain a secure connection, are logged into MILS and able to take calls using MIPS.
Engineers, Informatics, IT, graphics will be allowed to work remotely and must maintain normal productivity. Work should be logged in ACE and/or other normal registers of work effort.
Separating sick employees:
- CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).
Office hygiene by all employees:
- Please use no-touch disposal receptacles for disposing of personal items.
- All employees should clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
- MedExpert provides soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Hand rubs are available in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene.
- See the CDC coughing and sneezing etiquette in this document.
Routine environmental cleaning:
- Clean all items off the top of your desk on a daily basis. Place items into your drawers. Nightly, all desktops will be sprayed, scrubbed and disinfected. Remove any pictures or items that may be harmed by a disinfection spray.
- Disposable wipes and sprays are available to routinely wipe doorknobs, keyboards, remotes. Each employee may clean their own surface in addition to regular cleanings.
Advise MedExpert employees with traveling plans:
- Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from China, and information for aircrew, can be found at on the CDC website.
- MedExpert employees should check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before starting travel and recommended to stay home if sick.
- If outside the United States, sick employees should contact a healthcare provider or a medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.
Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the COVID-19:
- MedExpert employees who are well but who 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.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, MedExpert will inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employee exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Coughing & Sneezing Etiquette written by the CDC
Hygiene etiquette involves practices that prevent the spread of illness and disease. A critical time to practice good hygiene etiquette is when you are sick, especially when coughing or sneezing. Serious respiratory illnesses like influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are spread by:
- Coughing or sneezing
- Unclean hands
- Touching your face after touching contaminated objects
- Touching objects after contaminating your hands
To help stop the spread of germs:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Put your used tissue in a waste basket.
- If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
Remember to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing:
Wash with soap and water, or
- Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. If clean, running water is not accessible, as is common in many parts of the world, use soap and available water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands.
Cough etiquette is especially important for infection control measures in healthcare settings, such as emergency departments, doctor’s offices, and clinics.
One final practice that helps prevent the spread of respiratory disease is avoiding close contact with people who are sick. If you are ill, you should try to distance yourself from others, so you do not spread your germs. Distancing includes staying home from work or school when possible.