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August 7 Employee Huddle

August 7, 2020

Please Note: When time does not allow us to answer every submitted question, we answer questions at the next week KD Huddle. Submit a question now for next week by e-mailing

There is a deliveryman who recently made rude remarks towards staff. He also does not wear a mask while in the hospital. Who can we notify about this rude behavior and violation of mask policy?

  • Have your department manager or director redirect the delivery staff. If the behavior continues after that initial contact escalate it to incident command and we will ask the company to use a different person for delivery.

When will the 2019 match be applied to our retirement account? Wasn’t it supposed to be applied by 7/31/2020?

  • Lincoln Retirement Services has taken on the work of calculating the match this year; our Finance Department is assisting with auditing for accuracy. Next week, we expect the final auditing to be completed and the match will be made this month. This is a $9 million benefit that we need to make sure is done correctly!
  • The regulatory rules for making matches allows for 10 months after the end of the plan year, in our case, December 31, 2019. We have made the match at different times of the year in the past, as early as February and as late as September. Our goal is to make the match in July.

Can we fit test the snorkel masks that managers in ICU and RT have gotten staff so that we can continue to use them?

  • These masks actually are not FDA approved for prevention of the spread of infection. They cannot be cleaned without submersion in a 10% bleach solution. There is not a process for Fit Testing these devices since they are not approved medical equipment.

How are our PPE supplies? Are we low on anything?

  • We are holding strong with our current supplies and the conservations methods. We have received more gowns and that number has gone up to about 50,000. Surgical masks are still readily available. N95 masks are not available from supply chains, we are still receiving these from the county. We have been successful in sending N95 masks to Batelle for cleaning. They sterilize and reprocess the masks so we can have them back and reuse them. We will begin collecting masks throughout the district starting Monday.

LIVE QUESTION: When employees are hired, do they still have to pass the fit training? If they don’t pass can they still work the floors?

  • We are not fit testing anyone right now because there is a shortage in the spray for the 3N masks. We have the solution for the alpha pro but have been asking the county for more supply. We routinely make a request for the 3n masks we are wearing. We are doing seal checks still… and we will keep trying to get the solution for the fit testing for the N95.

Any updates on how KD is assisting parents with Distance Learning?

  • Kaweah Health employees/parents of children 6-11:
  • Based on the latest information, schools and school districts continue to work through distance learning and school schedules. VUSD is scheduled to start August 14th; much information is coming in now from them. I’ve learned that the first 9 weeks of school will be distance learning, at a minimum. Other schools and districts are implementing varied schedules. We know this is challenging you all as parents and certainly your kids.
  • We have established the option of using The Lifestyle Center as a site to offer distance learning for the children of our parents (ages 5/6-11). Kathryn Price, our Director of Kaweah Kids will provide the teachers for this, with hours of 7:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. (normal school hours). Please know that Kaweah Kids teachers have a minimum of 12 college-level units of early childhood development. The date we can start children may be as early as Thursday, August 14th. This is dependent on final confirmation from the licensing agency for these programs.
  • What we can do:
    • 1. Provide the site and safe measures with masks, cleaning and distancing.
    • 2. Provide teachers to assist the children. We want to provide two teachers for every 20 children. Space is limited.
    • 3. Ensure that WiFi and electricity is available along with tables and chairs.
    • 4. Develop activities to keep children engaged.
    • 5. May remove a child if unable to succeed in the environment.
  • What parents will need to do:
    • 1. Provide a commitment of days needed every two weeks so that we can schedule appropriately. There is not a requirement for Monday through Friday scheduling.
    • 2. Help the teachers understand the school requirements of the children.
    • 3. Provide computer equipment/Ipads, etc.
    • 4. Provide lunch, snacks, and drinks for their children.
    • 5. The cost for those earning $20 per hour or more is $20/day; additional children will be $10 per day.
    • 6. The cost for those earning less than $20/hour is $10/day; additional children will be $5/day. Monies left in the Employee Relief Fund will help to subsidize the difference of the higher cost paid by those at $20 per hour or over.
  • We hope that this will help our parents with this very challenging situation and relieve a bit of worry and stress. Please send questions my way. If interested, e-mail Jorge Ortega in Human Resources.

Tulare County schools will not be opening for in-person learning this fall. However, after school programs such as Pro-Youth is opening all-day program for students in Exeter and Visalia. Will this create an increase in COVID cases?

  • We don’t think so, no. Remember, our Kaweah Kids center has been open this whole time and we have not had any cases.

LIVE QUESTION: Does the child have to be enrolled in Visalia Unified School District?

  • It is not limited to Visalia.

LIVE QUESTION: On our next FSA enrollment can add those additional child care costs?

  • Of course, it will be in open enrollment in November or December you can enroll in FSA.

LIVE QUESTION: Is it limited to children of employees or grandchildren of employees?

  • We are offering this to children of employees first and, if we can, we will open it up to the community. If the grandparent is an employee than, yes, they can attend.

What is the status of elective surgery, especially with the Central Valley being on a list of 10 spots to worry about on the national level?

  • What we do are non-urgent surgeries. If someone has to have a knee replacement, if they are in pain and cannot hold off, we have surgeries to help quality of life patients. We monitor cases by day to make sure we have enough beds for emergency department.

Please explain again why we are not using the Hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin, and zinc treatment on our patients. Employees are getting inundated with comments and Facebook posts about that combination saving lives.

  • Hydroxychloroquine was considered as a potential treatment for COVID-19 early in the pandemic before scientists and clinicians had an opportunity to fully test or develop medicines that could treat the virus. Based on studies available at the beginning of the pandemic, hydroxychloroquine was prescribed for some patients at Kaweah Health. Early studies on the use of hydroxychloroquine in patients looked to show positive results but the way the studies were conducted this may have been misleading. Many studies using hydroxychloroquine have been published in the months since the pandemic started. A majority of these studies have not been able to show a benefit with hydroxychloroquine. The studies that show no benefit that many clinicians are basing their treatment decisions on are studies that have adhered to the gold standard of clinical research and have looked at various patient types. These studies have included various different types of patients ranging from those with a possible exposure but no symptoms yet (asymptomatic patients), non-severe, non-hospitalized patients, and hospitalized patients who required oxygen support. The use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 has continued to be discussed in the news and on social media but based on the best available current science, the studies are showing that it does not work as originally thought. The scientific and medical experts in the country and many of our local providers are currently not in favor of using this medication for COVID-19 treatment. Studies for azithromycin or zinc have not been as readily available. One study evaluating hydroxychloroquine for non-hospitalized patients with COVID-19 also looked at those patients also taking zinc. The study investigators found that the addition of zinc to hydroxychloroquine did not improve symptoms during the study period. While zinc is still currently in use, there are not studies that support any benefit to patients. However, it is largely a safe drug to use in patients. Another study evaluating hospitalized patients with COVID-19 found that taking hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin did not show improved symptoms after 15 days. Azithromycin may be given to patients with COVID-19 that have other medical reasons, such as certain types of pneumonia. Lastly, the FDA has issued a warning that giving hydroxychloroquine with remdesivir may reduce the activity of remdesivir, a drug that has been shown to have benefit in patients with COVID-19. All of these medications, especially hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, do have side effects and in some patients can cause harm. It is important to keep in mind the potential benefits of any given treatment and weight these out with potential negative effects of these drugs and other factors that are specific to the patient to come to the best treatment decision. Given the studies that have recently been published around the use of hydroxychloroquine and showing no benefits, use as treatment for COVID-19 infection at Kaweah Health hospital has fallen out of favor.

LIVE QUESTION: Can we code the Employee Huddle meeting time to the COVID Department #8950? Can this be done for both exempt and hourly employees?

  • Yes, you can transfer the time spent watching the Employee Huddles to #8950, and yes, it applies to both exempt and hourly employees.

Do we notify other employees if an employee tests positive? If we do not, why not?

  • Under Privacy laws, we are allowed to share that an employee may have been exposed. We are not allowed to identify an employee by name (if the exposure was from an employee). It’s so important to wear masks, wash hands, and physically distance, including during meals, even if outside.

LIVE QUESTION: If an employee has COVID, how do you know who they have been around or how they got infected?

  • Employee Health steps in and has a process where they track and ask questions to help figure out what and how the employee got exposed.

Any updates on the thermometers for department screening?

  • Still waiting for confirmation from Mossimo on their planned delivery date. We had hoped the manufacturer had reached a point where they could fulfill an order but we are still in the same predicament now as we were when the pandemic started, certain supplies and equipment are very hard to come by.

A co-worker who tested positive (asymptomatic) told me that there is a false positive rate of 30%. I hadn’t heard that before, is that true?

  • No, that is not correct. If the test detects COVID-19 on the swab, it is there. People come up positive but it has been a while since they were contagious. Once your symptoms have been gone for 72 hours, like any other virus, it goes away. If you test and it comes positive the virus can be dead.

How is KD assisting staff with “virus fatigue”?

  • This pandemic has been impacting our organization and its team members for months. Even our strongest, most resilient employees may be feeling the effects of long-term uncertainty. We are not immune from stress, anxiety, or fatigue. Supporting you through this journey is so important, and self-care is an essential component. Just today, Laura Goddard, our Director of Organization Development sent out an e-mail with a PULSE Check, a simple tool to check in with yourself and manage stress in the moment.
  • You can always find updated Resiliency & Wellness tools, tips and resources on the COVID Medical Staff and KD Employee Info page located on KDCentral and at (password CovidInfo2020).
  • Otherwise, we are trying to give our employees time off when requested and needed. To get through this, we need to support each other and every one of our employees as best we can.

LIVE QUESTION: Has the PTO Cap been extended past the 400 hours?

  • We are still at 400 hours. Haven’t extended the cap yet but won’t let anyone lose time. You will get it back.

Our dialysis clinic is struggling to have a screener at the door, can we get help?

  • We will get our Labor Pool individuals out there to help.

LIVE QUESTION: Can we encourage more employees, who have tested positive for COVID-19, to donate plasma to help save our patients?

  • Yes, we can encourage, but plasma donation is voluntary. We have had 219 employees and 10 providers recover.