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January 15 Employee Huddle

January 15, 2021

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 January 15, 2021

Now that the government has put out a directive to not save the second dose, what will Kaweah do about this to assure staff and physicians and those given the first vaccine receive their second dose?

Staff are having their temperature recorded daily. Where are the temp logs being sent and what are we doing with them?They are being stored das records of employees being screened each shift in case of requests by the state to demonstrate our logging of employee screening. They are being faxed to a file (paper copies are being scanned into that file too) and, when given the okay to discard, we will destroy them.

When will we start the Moderna vaccines and will our administration let us know? We continue to work through the Pfizer vaccine with almost 3,000 doses given. The plan is to use that up (due to expirations) prior to the use of Moderna. We can communicate if/when that happens. Please know though that first dose clinics end 1/20/2021 and we may not need to use the Moderna vaccine; it could be diverted to clinics or patients.

Do you know how long after the shingle shot you can get a COVID vaccine? You will need to check with your primary care physician.

Shouldn’t drinking fountains be removed during the pandemic as a source of possible cross contamination? Yes, they absolutely should not be in use. We have reached out to maintenance to turn off or cover them.

Who should we talk to or what should we do if we feel we’re being treated different upon return to work after a positive COVID test? Kaweah Health has now had over 1,100 employees and providers with COVID, which is about 20% of our workforce. Almost every department has been affected now. Nevertheless, it is not okay to be treated differently and I would ask that employees reach out to Raleen Larez or Dianne Cox in HR.

It was mentioned in a previous huddle that all employees may have to start being tested weekly. Is that something that is still going to be happening?

It is still only a recommendation from the State and we do not have the resources to test that volume of team members every week without pulling away from patient care resources. We asked the State for staffing resources to support that recommendation. If we receive additional resources we will move forward, but for now we are not planning to test weekly. We will continue with using N95s in patient care situations and surgical masks in patient care areas. Cloth masks are still okay in non-patient care areas. We have also commenced vaccinations which is a better use of resources to protect people.

In regards to departments that have had a possible exposure to a COVID positive co-worker, are the employees in that department able to get tested as a precaution?

We are not offering that through Employee Health until symptomatic, but if concerned, there are sources for testing. Remember that an exposure is defined as being in the area with a positive person without masking. Perhaps in this case, employees were eating together unmasked and we always recommend distancing in that case. If an employee wants to get tested they can get tested through public avenues.

Does the cafeteria have to follow the same guidelines as a restaurant? My coworkers and I have been in there multiple times and counted upwards of 50+ people at one time. Are there measures in place to monitor/control that, if required?

We want to make sure we’re maintaining distancing especially if not wearing masks. We will continue to work with the department on spacing. The cafeteria is allowed to be open as we are an essential workplace.

There has been a lot of talk about having stickers on our badges to identify those who have had/not had flu or COVID vaccines. How is that not a HIPPA violation?

HIPAA does not apply to employee health information. However, state law does – see Civil Code Section 56.20. Kaweah Health provides stickers to employees, and employees decide whether to put the sticker on their name badge or not; therefore “consenting” to the disclosure of medical treatment (i.e. employee [insert name] had a flu shot). Employees may, at their discretion, leave the sticker off their name badge and use a mask instead. In a situation where there is a public health order in a particular geographic area, then the hospital may be able to require nurses to put stickers on their badges.

Can employees whose work hours have not been impacted during COVID work overtime shifts with float pool?

Yes, if the position that an employee is going to work in is eligible for the extra shift bonus, they would receive it for additional shifts and overtime after 40 productive hours in a workweek.

I have a question about the Pascal Metric emails we have been getting. Are they legitimate? What are they for? And how many surveys are there?

Yes, those are safety surveys we do every two years. They are safe. They are delivered at 0800 every day. You will get an email to complete the survey daily until you actually do it, then the emails stop. Pascal Metrics sends and receives the information through their servers to ensure anonymity for respondents, which is why it is an external email. Absolutely I want you to complete the survey. There is only one. We have until 2/1/21 to gather data from all of you about how you feel related to safety in your work units, teams and organization. This survey is very valuable for understanding where we have to improve and where we are doing things well.

What are the statistics on the second dose of the vaccine? How many people had allergic reactions, got sick, sore arm, etc.?

The side effects are all over the board as it depends on the person. We are hearing about fever, fatigue, headaches, chills, muscle pain, and joint pain. Definitely more reaction to the second-dose shot than the first dose but nothing serious being reported and very short-lasting.

Why is there a warning against pregnant women or women who are wanting to get pregnant getting the vaccine?

There are stories about it not being safe and stories saying exactly the opposite. The vaccine is a mRNA and not live virus so it does not give you COVID. It is a vaccine that tells your body to instruct your own cells to make spike-like cells. There are also scientists who don’t believe the vaccine crosses the placenta and wouldn’t go to the fetus. We encourage all pregnant individuals to talk to their doctors.

Why isn’t our hospital not reporting our mortality rate numbers?

The deaths in our County have just surpassed 500 The majority of those patients have passed away in a hospital (1/3 passed in nursing homes or were nursing home residents). We made a decision not to be the reporter of death. We feel that is the role of the County and refer people to the County website.

Are there any earlier interventions that may be beneficial in treatment of COVID patients before they start getting to the point where they need to be in ICCU/ICU and ventilated?

We have encouraged everyone to keep their immune system overcharged. If you do contract the virus, you have a good chance of fighting it and making a full recovery. There are more fragile populations, if they contract COVID, their symptoms get more severe and we try and take care of them on an outpatient basis. We are providing outpatient treatments such as Bamlanivimab (BAM) to keep patients out of the hospital. Please consult with your physician to see what additional precautions or early treatments they recommend for you.

How many days after COVID should we wait to get the vaccine?

10 days.

Why is there a preference between the two vaccines?

The composition of the vaccines is different but both are mRNA vaccines. The percentages of observed immunity are also slightly different--Pfizer is 95% effective and Moderna is 94% effective. The Moderna has a longer storage life and does not need to be kept at the -70 degrees Celsius that the Pfizer vaccine does.

Are we going to extend the extra shift bonus?

The Executive Team will be discussing that on Monday.