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December 25 Employee Huddle

December 25, 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 dvolosin@kdhcd.org.

EMPLOYEE HUDDLE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM DECEMBER 25, 2020

  1. If an employee defers the vaccine and gets COVID is their time still covered?

This question likely refers to the COVID Supplemental Paid Leave of up to 80 hours. As long as that benefit is offered, an eligible employee would receive that pay. When that benefit is no longer available (per state/federal guidelines), then an employee would apply for State Disability Insurance and coordinate with any accrued PTO or EIB.

  1. If an employee defers the vaccine right now, how long before they are able to receive it when they decide they want it?

We will have ongoing clinic days for some time to come, in part due to employees returning from LOA’s. An employee can sign up as the schedule rolls out.

  1. If an employee gets COVID and is off for the 10 days and then they have two children that get it in sequential order (child one gets it and then child two is positive a week later) is all of that time covered?

This question also likely refers to the COVID Supplemental Paid Leave of up to 80 hours. In this case, this would be exhausted. If out on LOA for children, the employee would apply for a leave under the Family Medical Leave Act for their children; the employee may also be eligible for pay under the Family Paid Leave and then coordinated with accrued PTO and EIB. Please contact the LOA team if this is your situation.

  1. Will staff & physicians receive stickers stating "I've received my COVID vaccine" for their badges? How will we know if someone in our department declined the vaccine?

Having the vaccine does not provide 100% protection against COVID-19 (reportedly 95%). We will continue to require masking for some time to come, so we won’t need to identify those that have had or have not had the vaccine.

  1. What is the anticipated amount of doses that Kaweah will receive of the Moderna vaccine?
    As of Tuesday, December 22nd, we have received 2,925 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 1,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine. However, the Pfizer vaccine vials were actually filled beyond their intended five doses per vial, which results in generally an extra dose of each Pfizer vaccine. Counting these extra 400-500 doses, we have received almost 5,000 first-dose vaccines. This should allow us to vaccinate every one of our employees and providers given that roughly 30% of our folks are declining the vaccine for now. If you want to be vaccinated but have not received it yet, we will be holding vaccination clinics in the Acequia Wing Lobby next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
  2. Why are doctors who are not hospital employees receiving the vaccine before the actual staff?
    None of the doctors on our Medical Staff are employees of Kaweah Health but they do work side-by-side with us, taking care of patients on the front line. Like our employees, we also want them to be protected from the virus. There are several physicians who are not on our Medical Staff but do work in our clinics (e.g., our rural health clinics or Visalia Medical Clinic) who we also want to be vaccinated so they can continue to take care of patients in our outpatients setting so they don’t end up needing to be hospitalized. While certain groups of both employees and physicians have been first in line to receive the vaccine because of their higher risk of infection (direct patient care givers), all of our employees are now eligible to receive the vaccine.
  3. Can you update us on whether we will receive enough vaccine to cover our second dose within 21 days?
    You are correct that a number of States across the Country did receive less vaccine than they were initially promised. I don’t know if California received all of the 327,000 doses they were promised but Kaweah Health actually received more than we were initially told. We have been told by multiple sources that Kaweah Health is guaranteed to receive the number of doses we need to give everyone a second dose who received the first dose—Pfizer or Moderna (but you can’t mix).
  4. What is the percentage of employees that are interested in taking the vaccine?
    As of Wednesday, December 23rd at 8:19 A.M., we had vaccinated 1,308 employees and had another 272 that have scheduled their vaccination for December 23rd, 28th, 29th or 30th. There have been 1,946 employees who have logged into the Kaweah Compass “Clockwise” vaccination scheduling portal to indicate their vaccination intentions: 67.4% have consented to receive the vaccine, 15.0% have declined, and 17.6% are undecided and would like to postpone for now.
  5. Will Kaweah Health have or be part of a campaign to help people understand the importance and safety of the vaccine? Can we collect data as vaccines are administered to other hospital employees around the nation to demonstrate how effective the vaccine is in hospitals that have larger populations willing to take it?
    We would certainly like to and it seems only appropriate given Kaweah Health’s leadership role throughout this entire pandemic. We have stayed actively engaged with our entire community and have wanted to be their “go-to” source of truth and information about the virus. We will work with our Command Center Chiefs to determine how to best approach this. Thank you for your great question.
  6. Question: With new VP positions, administration raises, and new land purchased how does Kaweah explain the lack or raises, no retirement match, and cut positions to frontline workers?
    The creation of two new “net” VP positions (Tom Rayner and Dr. Ed Hirsch retired and were replaced by Anu Banerjee, Dan Allain, Jag Batth and Ryan Gates) was something I actually did back in early 2019 when Tom Rayner told me he was retiring. The Board-approved changes occurred in December 2019, well before the arrival of COVID and before we suffered the financial setbacks we experienced in the last few months of fiscal year 2020 and before we began developing the budget for fiscal year 2021. There have been a limited number of raises given this year to employees who have moved into new or different positions but that applies to all job positions, not just administrative. The painful decision to freeze pay rates for all employees and to not fund a 401(k) retirement plan match for fiscal year 2021 was a last resort to achieve a break-even budget for fiscal year 2021 (never in Kaweah Health’s history have we budgeted for just break-even). While we did have to eliminate a number of job positions during the last months of fiscal year 2020, they were far fewer in number (in the hundreds) than we would have had to do if we didn’t freeze pay rates and eliminate the match. Many other hospitals chose to lay off hundreds and thousands of their employees to balance their budgets.
  1. Another question I had was how is covid-19 being treated? What kinds of drugs are being used in hospitals to treat the patients? And has treatment changed since the pandemic started?

COVID is treated with medications, oxygen, proning and activity. We have seen the treatment change somewhat. Early treatment included Hydroxychloroquine. We have changed our treatment to Remdesivir and dexamethasone. We also use convalescent plasma for patients at times. We are offering infusions of monoclonal antibodies (Bamlanivimab) to outpatients who meet criteria for this early treatment. This is only for outpatients.

  1. I heard now that AMA has recommended using Hydroxychlorquin when COVID is first diagnosed to keep it from getting worse. True or False?

The AMA actually took back their statement that Hydroxychloriquine should not be used and replaced it with a statement of support for providers who make the decision to use it for off label administration in the treatment of COVID since trials and research is ongoing. They are not recommending it yet but they are saying if a provider decides to use it they support the provider in their clinical decision making. We have not added it back to our formulary yet but the P&T team meets regularly to review all treatment and newest evidence for treatment.

  1. Is there a way to set up registration outside or virtually for COVID tests at Urgent Care so the patients don’t need to walk inside and potentially expose everyone before their test?

The COVID related visits are offered as virtual visits and then the patient is given instructions on what time to come for the subsequent test. At Demaree they are able to come in the back door and go to a designated room. At Court St they come in the front door but are in the hallway with spacing before they test. The visit, registration and most of the time is spent in the telehealth portal.

  1. If you have 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine and get exposed to a COVID-19 positive person will you have to quarantine? If you received both doses and get exposed do you have to Quarantine?

We are not quarantining people who have been exposed unless they live with someone who is positive. We are alerting them to the exposure if work related or ask people who are exposed in the community to continue to watch for s/sx, mask and distance but not removing to quarantine from work. This applies to one or two doses.

  1. The vaccine is not recommended for people who currently have COVID. Will those employees get to push their vaccination time back?

Yes, we will continue to offer vaccination clinics over several months due to varying circumstances. Once through this initial high volume push we will offer vaccinations as we get supplies in from the pharmaceutical companies. Current supplies have a limit of 30 days so we will continue to offer and ensure all gets used but as more supply comes in our employees will still have access to future doses that are allocated.