WellSpire Team Member Portal: COVID-19
COVID-19 Information for WellSpire Team Members
What You Need to Know Today
As we work through the many ramifications of the global spread of COVID-19, this page will serve as our clearinghouse for everything you as WellSpire team members need to know as the situation continues to evolve. On behalf of the People and Culture team, thank you for the patience you’ve extended to us as we’ve worked through emerging and potential realities the virus is presenting to our organization. As always, our priority is your health and safety, and the health and safety of those we serve.
August 14: Phased guidance for the state of Illinois (This document will be updated as new information is received.)
June 27: UPDATE - New FAQ: Please note numerous updates.
New: WesleyLife/WellSpire is adopting the requirement that team members who call in and who express symptoms that are related to COVID will need to be tested utilizing a nasal test available at most clinics or through Test Iowa.
You must be tested for COVID by a health professional using the nasal test. These may be completed by occupational medicine, your own physician, or through Test Iowa.
This will be paid by the organization. If for any reason you must pay out of pocket for the test, you can submit through insurance and be reimbursed by the organization for any remaining costs.
The results of the test (regardless of where it is completed) need to be provided to the People and Culture representative and will be held in the strictest of confidence as with all PHI.
If the test is positive, the absence will not be counted against you, and you will be asked to follow the guidance related to being off work due to positive COVID results.
If you test negative, you are expected to return to work for the next regularly scheduled work day and the absence will be counted as an occurrence.
Team members who refuse to be tested will need to remain off work until the test is completed. You will be subject to our corrective action process regarding unscheduled absences, up to and including termination of employment.
Personal Time Off must be used in either situation according to our already established procedures.
Q1. Why does the health screening questionnaire ask if I work at another healthcare employer? If I do, what does that mean for me?
A1. WesleyLife started requesting this information as an additional safety precaution for our residents, clients and team members. Now that our state is experiencing continued cases of COVID, it’s important that we be diligent in monitoring the exposures of our team members. And, because working for a healthcare worker increases the risk of exposure even more, WesleyLife wants to ensure we have this information for good decision making.
If you work for another organization where there is a known exposure to a person who tested positive for COVID and you work PRN for WesleyLife, we may ask you not to pick up additional PRN hours with us until you have successfully completed a 14-day quarantine period. On the flip side, if you are PRN for another organization where there has been a positive test, we may ask you to stop working at that community until we are certain the risk has passed.
Q2. Who is defined as an "essential" worker?
A2. The definition of an “essential" worker is based on the 2013 Essential Services Act and specifically outlines a number of occupations that are deemed essential in the event of a sequester for any reason. While States have the right to specifically define these occupations and businesses, generally all healthcare occupations will fall under the “essential" services definition.
Specifically in both Iowa and Illinois, “Healthcare Workers” and “Residential Support Facility Personnel” have been designated as essential workers. At WesleyLife, these definitions will cover all team members and leaders in all of our CHL and HCBS services.
Further, we have determined that a few positions at the Network Support Center and a few positions at our Urbandale location will not fall under the “essential services” definition and have been asked to work remotely and self-isolate.
If a “shelter in place” order is in place for Iowa/Illinois, WesleyLife will provide the necessary documentation to allow team members to continue to report to work as scheduled.
Q3. What are the current requirements for team member screening?
A3. Upon your arrival at work, you will be screened using the most current screening tool. This includes taking and recording your temperature and basic health status. As of March 24, you will be screened at the beginning and END of each shift.
If you arrive at work with a temperature or any one of the basic screening items (new cough, new respiratory symptoms, etc.), you will be sent home immediately. (If you routinely cough, perhaps due to smoking or allergies, it does not mean you have to be off work. The concern is a NEW onset of a symptom.)
If you are sick and are not planning to come to work, please use our current call-in procedures to report your illness to your leader. At that time, you will be required to complete an attestation via Relias that documents that you are experiencing symptoms. Those who wish not to complete the attestation will be expected to come in to work.
If you are sent home with a temperature above 100.4, or you have a temperature above 100.4 at the end of your shift, you will be required to stay at home until:
10 days after the initial onset of symptoms, AND
You have been free of ALL symptoms for a full 3 days (72 hours).
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or are suspected to have the illness, please follow these guidelines regarding your return to work:
At least 10 full days must have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
You must have had NO fever for three full days (72 hours) without the use of fever-reducing medication during those three days. Your symptoms also must have improved during that time.
When you come back to work after illness, you must wear a face mask at all times while in WesleyLife buildings or in client homes.
You will be restricted from contact with severely immunocompromised residents/patients until 14 days after illness onset.
Q4. I am hearing that if I left Illinois, I need to self-isolate for 14 days. Is this true?
A4. As of March 25, we have received revised guidance for those who traveled away from their home states (further than daily travel to/from work, for those who work in the Quad Cities).
If you are an essential services worker, you are allowed to go back to work as long as you remain asymptomatic and continue to monitor your temperature at the beginning and end of each shift. You must wear a face mask when delivering any direct resident/client care that places you within 6 feet of a resident or client. The mask needs to be worn for the full 14 days following your return.
If you become symptomatic at any point during your shift, you will be sent home immediately and should self-isolate until the conditions for anyone with symptoms are met (7 days from onset of symptoms, 3 days with no symptoms, and 4 days wearing a mask when providing direct resident/client care).
If you are sent home, you should continue to self-isolate when not at work and refrain from going outside your home for the full 14 days.
If you live with someone who traveled but you did not go, please follow these guidelines:
Individuals you live with who traveled and are returning home should self-quarantine for 14 days and restrict their exposure outside the home.
All members of the household need to practice social distancing and an enhanced level of awareness related to infection-control practices as well as self-monitor for symptoms. Increase the cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces in the home.
Family members returning from travel should make every effort to “self-isolate” to specific rooms in the home and restrict the use of common spaces (bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen) as much as possible.
Team members should refrain from close contact with those who have traveled. Maintain a distance of at least six (6) feet. If the person is exhibiting symptoms, please remain in a separate room.
Any personal contact with an individual with these symptoms without the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) increases the risk of exposure and needs to be reported to your leader.
If you are in this situation, you will need to complete a new health screening to indicate you have been in contact with someone who has traveled and will continue constant self-monitoring for symptoms, including daily temperature-taking.
We highly recommend that all family members returning from travel take their temperatures daily as well.
Given all of the variables involved in these situations, each situation will need to be evaluated on its own merits. If you have a need for additional guidance around this, please speak with your leader. If WesleyLife is uncertain how a particular situation should be handled, we will consult the Department of Public Health.
Q5. If I need to quarantine and I don't have any remaining time off, what will I do?
A5. Visit with your leader to see whether you can work from home. For some positions, this is possible; for others, it is not. If your leader feels that working from home is not feasible for your position, you'll use any remaining wellness time first, followed by personal time, followed by non-paid time.
Note: If your travel was for a family visit just over state lines, WesleyLife will consider the need for quarantine on a case-by-case basis. Facts that will be used to determine the need for additional precautions will be: Public or private location, length of visit, number of people at any event, exposure or potential exposure risk, etc. These situations should be referred to Karie Kesterson-Gibson for consultation. If in doubt, we will connect with the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Q6. I have a person in my home who is symptomatic or has been diagnosed with COVID-19. What should I do?
A6. The Iowa and Illinois Departments of Public Health are directing that you continue working even if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, as long as you remain asymptomatic. You can continue to come to work, complete the daily health screening, and constantly monitor for any signs or symptoms. When you are working within 6 feet of a resident or client, you are expected to wear a mask as an additional precaution for 14 days after your last exposure.
Q7. I understand how important it is for me to be at work during this time. However, because my child's school is closed, I don't have child care. What are my options?
A7. First, please work as hard as you can now to find child care, as this situation will go on for at least another few weeks. If you've tried family members and friends, consider asking a fellow team member who is on a different shift if he/she would be willing to trade child-care responsibilities.
Also, each community's leaders have been working to find students who might be able to cover some child-care needs; please check with your leader about this. Also, some child-care centers are offering additional services/shifts and helping with additional costs. Again, please check with your leader, or with other team members who might know about options in your city or town.
If you are unable to find care and will need to be out, please plan to use your wellness time off first, followed by personal time, followed by non-paid time.
Q8. Is it possible for me to receive money from the WesleyLife Bridge Fund if the coronavirus situation is causing financial hardship for me?
A8. Limited funds are available. Your leader can tell you about the application process.
Q9. If I have to take time off without pay, may I file for unemployment benefits?
A9. Yes. The state has expanded and opened up unemployment benefits for people who are impacted by COVID-19. Your leader can direct you to the information you'll need.
Q10. I know many people who are working remotely at this time. Is that option available to me?
A10. The quick answer is: Maybe. Visit with your leader, who can refer to guidance that can let you know whether this option is available to your position. He or she can also go over the protocols that must be followed by team members who are able to work remotely.
Q11. I know we are following guidance to help minimize exposure to the virus. Will I be able to work my second job during this time?
A11. You may continue to work a second job. Please be vigilant about hygiene practices, and make sure you follow WesleyLife's screening requirements daily.
Q12. I have completed my 75-hour CNA course but can’t take the test because the schools have closed. What do I do?
A12. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has implemented a waiver that allows a community to employ CNAs for longer than four months if they have not yet met the training requirements under 42 CFR 483.35(d). This means if they have completed all of the classroom and clinical training but have not yet passed the state exam, they can continue working as a CNA past the former four-month limit.
These team members must be competent to provide nursing and nursing-related services. CMS is not waiving the requirement that this team member demonstrate the competencies required of a nursing assistant to care for residents. An RN must document the demonstration of these competencies and these records must be maintained in the team member’s employment file.
Waiver details are below:
Scenario 1: CNA candidate has taken the 75-hour class and passed the test but has fallen off the CNA registry due to lack of LTC experience in the last 24 months.
Solution: Due to the waiver, you can return to work at a LTC provider through the duration of the public health disaster.
Scenario 2: CNA candidate has taken the 75-hour class but has not been able to take the test.
Solution: You can continue to work through the public health disaster due to the waiver’s suspension of the 4-month time frame.
Scenario 3: New candidate or other staff member with no CNA training would like to move into a CNA role.
Solution: If you receive 6-20 hours of introductory training prior to resident contact, you can work as a CNA through the public health disaster. You may also register for a CNA course to be completed at the end of the public health disaster so that you can continue to work afterward.
Scenario 4: New candidate or other team member with no CNA training who would like to move into a CNA role, particularly to help with critical staffing needs/shortages.
Solution: You could serve as a “Temporary Nurse Aide” by taking the free 8-hour American Health Care Association Temporary Nurse Aide course. Upon successful completion of the course, you may work in that capacity through the end of the public health disaster.
Q13. I'm a team member under 18. Are there any special precautions I need to take?
A13. Yes. Minors are not allowed to provide any direct care to a resident or client who has a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, or to be involved in any cleaning of equipment, laundry, dining equipment, etc., from any resident or client who has a positive COVID diagnosis. Minors may continue to deliver food, flowers, packages, etc., to residents, but should not be exposed to any residents who are experiencing symptoms or have an active COVID diagnosis.
Q14. Will we be notified if one of our communities has a case of COVID-19?
A14. Chances are you’ve seen the media coverage recently of senior living communities with confirmed cases of COVID-19. We want to remind everyone about the information we shared last week: Should we have a confirmed case of the virus in a WesleyLife community, we will follow Iowa Department of Public Health protocol that requires the confidential notification of anyone who has had close contact with the individual who has tested positive. So if you are among those who should be notified and given direction, you will be – as quickly as possible.
Beyond that, we will not be sharing any additional information. If you are contacted by the media, please reach out to Lisa Ryan, Director of Communications for WesleyLife, either via email or by phone/text at (515) 988-1788. She will put the media in touch with VP of Marketing and Sales Sally Groome, who will provide this prepared statement: “During this global health emergency, WesleyLife is taking its guidance regarding information-sharing from the Iowa Department of Public Health. In accordance with that guidance and our required compliance with HIPAA privacy rules, we are not able to provide any information regarding the health of residents or team members.”
One reminder: In addition to refraining from talking to the media, please do not discuss, comment, or speculate about these matters on your personal social media pages, as doing so may place you in violation of HIPAA restrictions.
Q15. Is it true that all team members need to begin wearing face masks? Do we have to pull from our PPE to provide these?
Team members who are providing care to residents and clients, or who are involved in resident/client encounters (such as food service), must wear a medical-grade mask.
Team members who perform other duties, such as office managers helping residents with paperwork, may choose to wear a face covering – but are not required to if they are social distancing by at least 6 feet.
All team members should consider wearing face coverings when they are in public.
The wearing of a face mask does NOT negate the need for social distancing. It is a layer of extra protection and should not replace protocols that are in place. Please continue washing your hands or using hand sanitizer often, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Any mask or face covering must be washed daily in hot water and bleach. If the mask is coughed or sneezed into, it must be removed and replaced, or washed immediately.
Do not pull from PPE for this use. As the CDC notes, any cloth covering is fine – a homemade mask, a light scarf pulled over the mouth and nose, etc.
Q16. Are we offering incentive pay to those who may provide care to individuals with COVID?
A16. A differential will be extended to team members who are directly serving individuals who have a confirmed positive COVID diagnosis. Please see your People and Culture team member for details.
In times like these, it's difficult to know where to turn for reputable information. WellSpire is relying on the sites below for guidance. When you wonder if something you've read about coronavirus is accurate, consult these experts.
Iowa Department of Public Health
Illinois Department of Public Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
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