COVID-19 and WesleyLife: Learn More and HELP NOW!

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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, the virus caused by the novel coronavirus, this page will serve as our clearinghouse for everything you as WellSpire team members need to know as the situation evolves. 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.

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April 1, 2020: Please note details added to Q12 in the FAQ below about CNA courses and testing.

April 1, 2020: Chelsey Killean, Adminstrator at Westwing Place in DeWitt, shared the following. Thank you, Chelsey! 
 
Caring for Self and Others in Times of Trouble: Some Spiritual Tools and Tips

  • Breathe. Breathe. Breathe some more. Take time in your day, at any moment, to take 10 deep, even breaths. Carve out 5-10 minutes to meditate or practice mindfulness or contemplative prayer. Start here, now, wherever you are.
  • Ground yourself in the present moment. Focus your awareness on something real, enduring, or beautiful in your surroundings. Look up often. Discover the wonder and awe that is already here.
  • Acknowledge your fears, anxieties, concerns. Offer them up in prayer, if you pray. Write them in your journal. Share them with others. Feel what you feel, honor it, and know that it is not the final word.
  • Remember you are not alone. Ever. You are surrounded by care and support. Reach out.
  • Create and sustain community. Show up for one another. Listen compassionately. Practice empathy. Even while avoiding “close physical contact,” message the people you care about. Stand with those most vulnerable and those who suffer the brunt of prejudice and fear. Check in on folks. Call your mother, father, guardian, mentor, little sibling, long-lost friend.
  • Unplug, judiciously. While staying aware of developments, do not let the Corona-chaos govern you, but forgive yourself when and if it does.
  • Practice kindness. There is a temptation in health scares to view others as potential threats. Remember we are in this together. While practicing health guidelines and appropriate caution, remember to engage one another. Smile when you can. Bring good deeds and good energy into our world.
  • Stay healthy through sleep, diet, exercise. See healing and wellness holistically—mind, body, and spirit.
  • Make art. Discover, imagine, engage your hopes and fears, the beauty and ugliness of our world. Write, paint, sing, dance, soar.
  • Practice gratitude. In the face of crises, make note of the things for which you are grateful: your breath, the particular shade of the sky at dusk—or dawn. The color blue, the color green, the gifts and strengths you have, other people in your life, the ability to laugh. A pet.
  • Connect with your spiritual, religious, humanist, cultural, or other communities. Find strength and solace and power in traditions, texts, rituals, practices, holy times and seasons.
  • Pray as you are able, silently, through song, in readings, through ancestors. Remember the long view of history, the rhythms and cycles of nature, the invisible threads that connect us all.
  • Practice hope. Trust in the future and our power to endure and persist, to live fully into the goodness that awaits. -- Daniel Fugate, Harvard Divinity School

March 30, 2020: An important update from our CEO

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Frequently Asked Questions

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. WellSpire 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, WellSpire 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 WellSpire, 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. 

If a “shelter in place” order is in place for Iowa/Illinois, WellSpire 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 MIDDLE 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 middle of your shift, you will be required to stay at home until:

  • 7 days after the initial onset of symptoms, AND 
  • You have been free of ALL symptoms for a full 3 days (72 hours)

Further guidance on returning to work after illness:

  • "Three days symptom-free" means you haven't had a fever for three days, and you haven't used fever-reducing medication in those three days. It also means an improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).
  • 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 until ALL symptoms are completely resolved or until 14 days after the onset of symptoms.  
  • You will be restricted from contact with severely immunocompromised residents/patients until 14 days after illness onset. 
  • If your illness was not related to COVID-19, please plan to return to work as soon as possible. Examples of unrelated illness can include headache, stomach virus, back pain, and many other medical issues. If you have questions relating to your specific condition, please talk with your leader.
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing, we will follow all CDC guidelines regarding when you can return to work.

Q4. I am hearing that if I left Iowa or Illinois for vacation, 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 WellSpire 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, WellSpire 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 Department of Public Health.

Q6. I am scheduled to take vacation soon. Will I still be able to go?

A6. Starting March 24, 2020 through the end of April, no vacation requests will be approved. This is proactive step in light of the uncertain nature of the COVID-19 crisis. We have no way of knowing which and how many team members might become symptomatic and may need to be off work under current guidance. If numerous team members need to remain at home, we will need to make sure we continue to have the staffing levels needed to meet the needs of those we serve.

Please note:

  • If your leader previously approved your vacation request, please initiate a conversation with him or her, and expect to be asked to delay your vacation.
  • New vacation requests for dates before May 1 will be declined.
  • A decision will be made in mid-April concerning future vacation requests. 
  • FMLA requests will be handled per our standard practices.
  • Bereavement leave will of course be allowed.

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 WellSpire'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.

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 WellSpire community, we will follow 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, 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, WellSpire 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.  

Trustworthy References

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

Mayo Clinic

This is the Place: Ask Your Questions!

Free to ask a question. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally if the question is specific. If others would likely benefit from the answer, we'll add the question and response to the Q&A above.

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Archived Resources 

Team Member Letter, April 2019

Team Member Letter

WesleyLife Leadership Bios

Team Member Rewards Summary

Paid Time Away from Work

Frequently Asked Questions 

Team Member Handbook

2019 Benefit Summary

Medical Associates Full Provider Directory

Medical Associates Clinton Provider Directory

Health Insurance FAQ

Deductible (HMO) Plan Detail

HSA 1 Plan Detail

HSA 2 Plan Detail

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