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September 11 Employee Huddle

September 11, 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.

Questions and Answers from the KD Employee Huddle

Tulare County has a population of 471,389. According to Tulare County Health and Human Services we have 581 positive COVID cases (as of 09.10.2020). That is less than 2 percent of the population. (correct me if I’m wrong on that percentage). Our positive test rate is at 12.6 percent. Shouldn’t we be going off how many active cases we have rather than positivity rate since we are only testing symptomatic people? The new system did put in a new calculation since positivity in itself is limited by testing capacity.

  • The new cases per day per 100,000 people only looks at the rate of positive cases but is not dependent on testing asymptomatic people. We are currently at 17.5 positive cases/100,000, so we have 82 people per day with a new positive result. Our goal to move to the next tier would be to have 32 people per day. This is a seven-day average count.

The governor has made it near to impossible for counties to open. We flattened the curve and are continuing to decrease our numbers. Why are schools still shut down? Why are we not allowed to open our indoor dining and our towns when less than 2 percent of the population has this virus?

  • I think we had such a rapid increase with high death rates, hospitalizations and outbreaks in June and July after the last reopening attempt that the government is being very cautious. That spike in June and July created a strain on the health care systems so we are conscientious to the possibility that without some control we could have another rapid spike.

Has there been an increase in EAP requests due to the lockdown? Has there been an increase in suicides since the inception of COVID?

  • In the county, the suicide rate is lower this year than last year. The crisis team calls for the county are about the same in volume but they have seen calls coming in through the crisis lines from people who have not previously accessed mental health services. The county mental health team has put plans in place to address an influx of mental health needs, but have not seen that demand increase at this point in the county.

With our percentage so low why are we not trying to submit a waiver with plans on how we can open safely now? Are flu shots still going to be available for employees the first of October?

  • Yes, Employee Health will be announcing the dates and times soon for TB, Flu vaccinations and fit testing of N95s.

Will the vaccine have anything to help with the prevention of COVID-19?

  • No, the flu vaccine will not help with COVID prevention but will help us continue to keep the flu under control. Though people still get the flu when we use the flu shot, numbers are significantly lower when it is used.

If we go to our provider to get a flu shot will our insurance pay for it?

  • Yes, flu shots are considered preventive and are covered at no cost.

When are the quick tests going to be available at the rural sites?

  • It was mentioned last week that we have received the supplies, the analyzers and were waiting on the C-Trains. The tests are available at VMC now. They will be live at Exeter Rural Health Clinic on Monday.

When will the C-Trains be delivered?

  • They have been delivered and are ready for use. Once the analyzers come in and have been deployed to the other locations, they will begin testing there as well.

When will we start encouraging asymptomatic and symptomatic community members to get tested?

  • Asymptomatic testing can happen now actually. We can help the county and state by putting out more social media information about the sites. Tulare county has three state testing sites (Tulare, Dinuba and Porterville) through a company called OptumServe. People can go online and register for an appt time. Turn around for those tests was long, but has improved to 24-48 hours now. Kaweah Health will be able to help more with asymptomatic testing as the Quidel platform roles out to all the sites, but we are contributing with VMC and Exeter now. Appointments can be made by calling 1-888-634-1123 or by visiting their website at https://lhi.care/covidtesting.

Some announcements are posted on KD Now (KD Central) and some are posted in Compass Now (Kaweah Compass). Is there a point where everything will be in one spot?

  • The development of the Compass as a one-stop communication site is ongoing. Over time, the Compass should be the single source.

There are a lot of part timers worried about changes to benefits. Have any firm decisions been made regarding the cost and/or required hours for eligibility? When will this information be made available to employees?

  • This information is typically made available in mid to late October. Final decisions by the Executive Team will be made by the end of September and communication will be prepared. Health benefits will be available for employees who have a status of 48 hours or more per pay period.

Will PTO accrual be affected for those who choose to continue to work 24 hours per week?

  • No change is anticipated.

Will KDH be participating in the deferral of payroll taxes?

  • We will not participate. As this is a deferral, employees would have to pay the double amount of FICA/Social Security Tax early next year.

Now that our COVID related LOAs are at an all-time low, are we feeling better about our staffing shortage or should we still be concerned?

  • Recruitment, retention and staffing is something we work on and watch daily. We are so glad to have employees well and returning, but always remain concerned about adequate staffing, ratios in nursing, etc.

Can you give us an update on the Day Camp at the Lifestyles Center? If we are out of spaces to accommodate our employee’s children do we have a list of other options and facilities? (Like Roller Towne, etc.)

  • We have 72 children enrolled and 5 on the waiting list. The Fire Department has approved us to accept more children and we’re now waiting for licensing. We hope to add 10 more spots. We learned this week that the Boys and Girls Club now have a Day Camp; that information should now be on the Compass. For more information on Roller Towne, visit Kaweah Compass. When TLC is ready to re-open, we are set up to continue the day camp.

I have noticed that a lot of small gyms are open, yet our Lifestyle Center is closed. Are we losing a lot of our members to these other gyms?

  • Frustratingly, there are a number small gyms and fitness studios that are defying the Governor’s mandate and remaining open against his orders. So unfortunately we have lost some of our members to these other facilities, but the majority of our members understand our position and continue to wait for us to re-open safely.

An employee recently received a bill from TLC for the annual facility fee. Aren’t those fees being waived since TLC has been closed?

  • The annual facility fee has not been waived, but has been deferred until we are able to re-open. The funds collected from these fees are used for capital equipment purchases and facility improvements. Although we are currently closed we still plan to replace older equipment and add additional services throughout the year once we are able to re-open.
  • To clarify further. We are not billing during the months we are closed. So, the members whose anniversary date fell in April, May, June, and July weren’t billed until we re-opened and we resumed billing in July. And the members whose anniversary date falls in August, September and any following month won’t be billed until we are able to re-open. Any questions should be directed to Patrick Tazio.

We just had Labor Day and we encouraged people to stay home or limit social gathering. Have we seen any increase yet in COVID patients that we believe might be a result of Labor Day weekend gatherings?

  • We have not seen anything yet. We have been seeing those numbers go down, but as soon as Sunday, and definitely by this time next week, we’ll know what happened as a result of Labor Day.

Patients coming in for imaging appointments are not being notified to wear a mask and social distance, shouldn’t they be?

  • Yes, we can make sure that our robocalls that remind patients about their appointments notify patients of these measures.