Policy on Clinic, Employee and Patient Practices

During Covid-19 Pandemic

updated: October 6, 2020

 

 

OVERVIEW

 

It is the goal of Universal Health Institute to take steps to reduce the spread of communicable diseases/illness in the workplace and protect the wellness of our employees and patients. Our company is also committed to communicating with all employees and patients openly and honestly.

This policy represents UHI’s intention to inform all individuals of the risk of exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and sets forth the principles our company will follow to protect employees and patients to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 in the workplace.

Any questions regarding the information contained in this policy should be addressed with Universal Health Institute founder, Dr. Amelia Case.

 

WHAT IS COVID-19 and HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE IT? 

 

According to the CDC, common symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.  It might seem like a common cold, a flu or a severe respiratory infection.  You only know if you have it if the test for it is positive.  Tests are not readily available in the USA yet, though there is a massive effort to make it so.  It may be that people have had it, and recovered from it, believing it was a ‘flulike bug’. 

 

HOW DOES IT SPREAD?

 

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person; between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet), specifically through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. The droplets can also land on hard surfaces like stainless steel or hard plastic surfaces, and it might be able to stay alive for a while there, then be picked up by a finger or hand – and spread via where you next put your finger or hand.

 

WHY 6 FEET?  DO I HAVE TO BE AFRAID TO TOUCH SOMEONE?

 

It’s believed that a person’s cough or sneeze can project sputum to a distance of 3 – 4 feet…maybe more.  That is why it’s recommended to stay 6 feet away from someone.   The goal is to be out of distance from what may be projected out of someone else’s lungs, throat or nose.  Viruses do not jump on their own like grasshoppers jump from place to place.  Viruses are spread through sputum and snotty substance that flies through the air when someone coughs, sneezes or spits.

Covid-19 is not spread by physical contact.  The reason holding or shaking hands is discouraged is because sputum or snotty substance might be on a hand.  That hand could touch another hand and then that hand might touch a nose and – voila – the virus might be spread.

 

 

WHO IS CONTAGIOUS?  WHY DO I HAVE TO BE SO CAREFUL?

 

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).  However, some spread might be possible before people show symptoms.  There have been reports of this Covid-19 spreading from a seemingly healthy person to a non-healthy person, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. It may also be possible that a person can get Covid-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Anyone who has the virus may transmit it to someone else. Remember:  It is transmitted through sputum or snotty substance that is sneezed, coughed or spit up and out.

Covid-19 is very contagious.  It is potentially deadly to someone who is infirm. That means the virus can be very destructive to someone with pre-existing health problems, like Cardiovascular, Respiratory or chronic illnesses.  There are many more deadly germs existing in our world today, like MERS, Bird Flu, Ebola, Tuberculosis, Small Pox and SARS.  The best practice for any contagious bug is to make it difficult to pass around, so whomever it is at risk has a safer environment.

The reason otherwise healthy adults and children are staying home to flatten the curve is to protect the infirm and to contain the illness so the hospital system Is not overflowing with people who are seriously ill and require intensive medical treatment.  If too many people get very ill at once, the hospitals cannot offer safe, quality care. 

 

EMPLOYEE RESPONSIBILITIES

 

All employees have a responsibility to prevent the spread of communicable diseases/illnesses when they are aware of or suspect that they are symptomatic of a communicable disease/illness.  At this time, that includes the common cold, too (because it might be Covid-19).  It’s critical that you stay home if you feel unwell. 

Employees are also required to notify UHI in accordance with the notification section below.

Employees are encouraged to engage in good hygiene practices while at work, especially hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds.  If water is not readily available, using alcohol-based sanitizers is acceptable.

Employees are expected to read and review the cdc.gov site to understand recommendations for home and work behaviors for safety. 

Additionally, this policy requires the following actions be taken to reduce the spread Covid-19 in the UHI workplace:

  • If an individual becomes ill due to a communicable disease/illness, he may return to UHI’s workplace only after being released by a medical professional familiar with laboratory results and testing for Covid-19.
  • Individuals who are well but who have been in direct close contact withan individual (within 6 feet as defined by CDC guidelines) who has been diagnosed with Covid-19, are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. UHI may take action to limit the individual’s potential for spreading the virus depending on the relevant circumstances.
  • Employees should monitor their health on a daily basis to ensure they remain free of any communicable disease/illness.
  • Employees should practice proper hygiene in the workplace by completely covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, then immediately washing or sanitizing hands before returning to work.
  • Employees must avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.

Asymptomatic employees may wish to self-quarantine out of a concern that they may have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus. These incidents will be addressed on a case by case basis, but the company will continue to follow CDC guidance. If an employee is considered low risk the company may still ask you to come to work if there is no legitimate threat to others. The employee will be required to follow the standard PTO or Leave policies as outlined in the employee handbook and within IDES guidelines.

 

EMPLOYEE NOTIFICATION AND DOCUMENTATION

 

If an employee has had potential exposure to Covid-19, Universal Health Institute will follow the CDC guidelines for healthcare personnel with potential exposure to COVID-19, which defines high, medium and low-risk exposures and recommended monitoring and work restrictions. An employee who has had low, medium or high-risk exposureis required to notify Dr. Case immediately, or as soon as reasonably practicable.  Dr. Case’s number is 312-615-9898.

If employees are to be quarantined, they may be required to obtain a medical certification providing that they no longer present a threat to other individuals in the workplace prior to being permitted to return to work.

 

EMPLOYER RESPONSE

 

After receiving relevant information, UHI will take prompt and appropriate action(s) to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace. UHI reserves the right to exclude any person diagnosed with or who has had medium or high-risk exposure to Covid-19 if a determination is made that the restriction is in the best interests of the organization. UHI also reserves the right to require employees to work from home depending on the particular circumstances.

Universal Health Institute’s focus will remain on the health and welfare of our employees and patients. Our response will be based on current CDC guidance for healthcare personnel with potential exposure to COVID-19 concerning the COVID-19 virus, the risks of transmitting to others, the symptoms and special circumstances of each individual, whether required by law to exclude individuals, and a careful weighing of the identified risks and the available alternatives for responding to an employee with the Covid-19 virus.

Should the business continuity of Universal Health Institute be threatened as the spread of the Covid-19  virus begins  to affect our communities, businesses and ultimately, have an impact on our work at UHI, the company may need to take necessary steps in order to adapt and follow public health guidance. The company may be required to consider a number of different options for limiting business operations or potentially preparing for temporary shutdowns. Potential options/strategies the company will utilize in order to ensure business continuityeither during or after the Covid-19 pandemic may include but are not limited to the following:Onsite work:  Employees may work onsite with patients, and may use gloves or masks, hospital grade sheets while treating patients, as per their judgment.  Before commencing with treatment, employees may ask patients to sneeze or cough into towels, should it be necessary.  Employees may exit a treatment space immediately if a patient openly sneezes or coughs, and do not have to return to the room for 10 minutes. 

 

  • Telehealth work:  Certain employees may provide telehealth services in accordance with patient needs.  The telehealth visits may be scheduled in advance, on Healthfusion schedule, as any normal in-person visit would be scheduled.  Any telehealth visit requires record-keeping of time, purpose and content, and must be recorded in S.O.A.P. format as per normal health HIPAA regulations.  Zoom meetings are acceptable, using UHI’s Zoom Meeting ID.  Please ask Dr. Case for the ID number.
  • Home Visits:  UHI clinical staff may provide home visits for patients who cannot get to UHI and do not want Telehealth visits.  There is a checklist of questions to be answered before such a visit is made.  Please ask Dr Case for the checklist. 
  • Remote work: Because job responsibilities and the tools to perform them vary, the ability to work remotely may only be available to employees in a limited number of positions as determined by Dr. Case.
  • Wage and/or schedule reductions: Should the business have the ability to continue operations at a limited capacity, the company may need to continue to consider temporarily reducing employee wages and/or reducing work schedules. For exempt, salaried employees, this may include reducing to part-time, hourly status.
  • Temporary leave without pay/layoffs: Either as a result of a mandated business shutdown or reduction in business/revenues, UHI may be required to place employees on a temporary leave without pay.  Under these circumstances, the hope would be that conditions will change, and UHI would plan to recall employees as work becomes available. Should this need arise, employees would be eligible to apply for unemployment. 

EMPLOYER RULES, REQUIREMENTS AND REQUESTS FOR EMPLOYEES

 

MASKS

  • UHI requires staff to wear masks in the presence of patients unless the patients are six feet away.  For the purpose of gathering history or understanding what is being said outloud, speaking in an open air room with the windows open, while standing or sitting six feet apart without wearing a mask is acceptable.
  • UHI requires front desk staff to ask entering or exiting patients to wear a mask if they wish to stand close (i.e. under six feet distance) to the front desk.  To facilitate communication, front desk staff and patients at the front desk may speak to each other without wearing a mask if they are either six feet or more away from each other. 
  • UHI requires front desk staff to wear a mask when a patient enters or exits until the patient has located the official safe distance of six feet before removing the mask for the purpose of facilitating communication.
  • UHI requires patients and clinicians wear masks while in treatment with the exception of the patients who are facing down in the prone position with their faces in a face cradle, at which time the patient's mask may be removed.
  • UHI requires everyone in the office to wear a mask if the distance between the two people is less than six feet.

UHI Requires the following, as well:

UHI requires staff to wash their hands for 20 seconds after every individual patient contact.

UHI requires staff to completely cover their mouths and noses when there is the need to sneeze or cough.

UHI requires staff to leave a private treatment room when there is the need to sneeze or cough.

UHI requests staff to drink water and use cough drops to prevent the typical spring ‘dry cough’ while working on patients.

UHI requires staff to ask patients if they prefer to be treated using gloves.

UHI requires staff to ask patients if they prefer to have their [already clean] tables covered by a hospital grade sheet.

UHI requires staff to spray tables, knobs, levers, blocks, face  pieces, weights, PT equipments, doorknobs, phones, cell phones, keyboards, mouses, water fountain levers and work space tops with the UHI provided cleaning solutions:

  • After every patient.
  • After each staff member or patient used or touched an item.

UHI requires staff to help keep people limited:

  • to four in the ellipse area at any one time.
  • to two in the reception area at any one time.
  • to five in the admin area at any one time.
  • to one in the bathroom at any one time.
  • to two in a treatment room at any one time.

UHI does not provide toys for children at this time.

 

EMPLOYER RULES, REQUIREMENTS AND REQUESTS FOR PATIENTS

 

UHI requires patients who have Covid-19 to refrain from entering the UHI premises until released by a medical professional.

UHI requires patients who work (i.e. in a hospital setting) with someone who has Covid-19 to refrain from entering the UHI premises.

UHI requires patients who live with someone who has had Covid-19 to return to UHI only after 15 days have passed without any signs or symptoms of the illness.

UHI requires patients who have signs and symptoms of a common cold to stay at home, on the chance the problem may be Covid-19.  Because it is unreasonable to wait for every person who has had a cold to be tested, UHI does welcome any patients who feel ‘good’ and ‘normal’ for care, providing there is no continuing sniffles, coughs or fevers for the previous 48 hours.

UHI requests patients who are 70 years and above to schedule for care during isolated times, but does not restrict such patients to those times.  It’s up to the patient to decide.

 

COMPENSATION

 

An employee who has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and that poses a threat to other employees/patientsand are required to stay home may utilize sick leave, paid time off and/or leave without benefits in accordance with normal company policies (or state/federal leave laws should they apply) until the threat is removed.

 

DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION PROHIBITED

 

Universal Health Institute strictly prohibits and will not tolerate any retaliation or discrimination against any individual based on the individual having a communicable disease/illness or reporting a communicable disease/illness.  Additionally, individuals will not be denied access to the workplace solely based on the grounds that they have a communicable disease/illness.  However, UHI reserves the right to exclude a person with a communicable disease/illness from the workplace if UHI finds that, based on relevant factors, such a restriction is necessary for the welfare of the individual with the communicable disease/illness and/or the welfare of others within the workplace.

Any individual who believes that he or she has been wrongfully retaliated against or discriminated against for having a communicable disease/illness, reporting a communicable disease/illness, exercising any rights under this policy, or for any other reason must immediately notify Dr. Case.

 

CONFIDENTIALITY

 

Communicable disease/illness-related diagnosis information reported to UHI is treated as confidential information. Our company is committed to complying with all applicable federal, state, and local laws that protect the privacy of persons who have a communicable disease/illness. Every effort will be made to ensure procedurally sufficient safeguards are in place to maintain the privacy of individuals who have communicable diseases/illnesses.

 

COORDINATION OF LEAVE

 

To the extent possible, leave taken under this policy will be coordinated with the company’s leave of absence policy, equivalent state leave policy, paid time off policy, and/or sick leave policy. To the extent possible, where multiple policies apply the leave may run concurrently under some or all of the relevant policies.

 

UNEMPLOYMENT INFORMATION

 

Employees of UHI may apply for unemployment compensation according to their needs.

 

FEDERAL LOANS HELP

 

Employees of UHI may remain employed at UHI as long as an essential business, UHI remains open.  During that time, though hours may be reduced and also may vary, it is possible, but not promised, that UHI will be able to use monies from any Federal CARES Act to continue to pay employees during the period of reduced business.  There is no guarantee of such monies, but UHI  does guarantee it will apply for available and necessary funds.


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