Below are guidelines and resources for our staff and clients/families to follow and use, to reduce or eliminate our exposure to COVID-19 and other contagious viruses.
1) SELF-MONITORING DAILY CHECKLIST
Employees (caregivers) must perform a self-health check before reporting to work and report all symptoms and variances immediately before proceeding to work (see section 2 below). Clients and family members will also perform a self-check and report all symptoms and variances immediately (see section 2 below). If employees or client/family members exhibit symptoms in the past 48 hours which cannot be explained by a known, noncontagious condition, immediately call ot of work/services following our Call Out policies. HR staff will follow up with employees and a nursing manager will follow up with all client families.
The following are the symptoms to report:
- Fever (100.4) or Chills
- Shortness of Breath
- Difficulty Breathing
- Muscle or Body Aches
- New Loss of Taste or Smell
- Sore Throat
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Congestion or Runny Nose
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these emergency warning signs for COVID-19:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake.
- Bluish lips, face, or unpigmented skin (gums, around the eyes, nail beds
2) REPORTING SICKNESS OR EXPOSURE (OR POTENTIAL EXPOSURE)
Employees and clients/family members should notify us immediately if you exhibit symptoms, have been exposed to, are being tested for, or have a diagnosis of a contagious viral infection; also, notify your healthcare provider for further instructions.
If employees or clients/family members exhibit symptoms prior to our staff working at the home, then call out of work/services. We are available to you 24 hours a day/7 days a week through office hours or On Call services. Office hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 :30 p.m. with staff here to assist; On-Call scheduling and managers are available outside of business hours. If symptoms start while on shift, then immediately contact us.
Clients/families – please report directly to the scheduling representative during business hours, or to On Call if after business hours.
Employees – please report directly to the HR Office during business hours, or to On Call if after business hours.
Employees will complete a screening of the client/household when they arrive at work and report concerns immediately. Also, report if you become aware of an employee of another agency who is working in the same home that has tested positive for COVID-19, influenza, or other viral infections or is undergoing testing.HHH keeps other agencies informed of potential exposure of contagious viral illnesses of our staff as well.
3) EVERYDAY PROTECTIVE MEASURES
FACE COVERING AND OTHER PROTECTIVE MEASURES –
Masking is no longer mandatory in all client homes/schools/transportation.
Facemasks will be required in the following specific situations:
- employee exposure (10 Days),
- positive COVID 19 test (10 days),
- respiratory symptoms with negative COVID test.
- some homes where clients/families are highly immunocompromised.
Employees will be asked to exercise their own discretion regarding masking, and always have the option even when it is not “required”.
When masking please follow these instructions:
- Mask needs to cover your mouth and nose.
- Use a fresh mask each shift, whenever mask is soiled or damaged, or when patient care situation dictates.
- Wear a mask and a shield when performing aerosol generating procedures such as: open suctioning, cough assist/chest PT, BIPAP, CPAP, nebulizer, high flow oxygen, trach changes, or trach mist.
Facemasks are not required when:
- Alone in a room
- Eating or drinking (if 6 feet of physical distance or a physical barrier are maintained)
- It is necessary for mouth to be seen (e.g., communicating with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing) and a clear, plastic facemask cannot be used [use an alternative (e.g., face shield) instead]
- An employee cannot wear due to a medical necessity, medical condition, or disability for which there is an approved accommodation for.
We have provided a supply of surgical masks to every home health client in addition to the PPE (personal protective equipment) kit. Please let us know as more are needed.
Physical distancing is a factor when it comes to safety with air-borne transmission of viruses. Take into account the space when assessing the need to maintain physical distance, considering a 3–6-foot distance .
Remember, the best way to prevent the spread of infections is to follow the same protocols for any respiratory virus (colds, flu, and stomach bugs).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Limit your exposure to large groups of people and practice physical distancing.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (then throw it away), or with your sleeve – not your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces at least daily.
4) PROTECT YOU & YOUR FAMILY from all Contagious Respiratory Illnesses
During the Flu season (typically starts in September and ends around the end of March each year) we all must be particularly mindful of contagious respiratory illnesses such as the cold, flu, and COVID-19.
Vaccines remain the top recommendation for preventing contagious viral infections. Staff should submit proof of vaccination against contagious, seasonal virus’ to the HR Office, just as soon as you have them done.
The flu, COVID-19, and the common cold are all spread similarly through:
- Respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
These viruses can be spread from person-to-person. It is possible that you may be infectious before showing symptoms. Persons are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic/the sickest.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from viral illnesses. Please consult with your health care provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.
5) RESOURCES AND EDUCATION
Infection prevention resources:
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
StrengthenME program – for a limited period, the State of Maine and Work Force EAP have partnered to provide healthcare and frontline workers with free mental health resources to help you cope with the challenges that you face daily. If you’re feeling burned out or stress is taking a toll on you, they can help:
- Individual Work/Life Coaching hotline – one-on-one confidential coaching with a licensed professional to assist with stress and to explore wellness options. Call 1-800-769-9818. Up to six, 50-minute sessions, conducted via Zoom. When you call, mention you are a healthcare worker calling for StrengthenME counseling.
Website access at: https://www.workforceeap.com/Solutions/Strengthen-ME to the following:
* Wellness Workshops - Join 30-minute Wellness Workshops that focus on mental and emotional wellness using practical tips and mindfulness.
* Wellness Breaks - If you’re short on time, try 10-minute Wellness Breaks for a quick mid-day reset - no registration required!
* Trainings – Join 50-60 minute trainings on a range of topics, from Stress Management and Sustaining Compassion to De-Escalation Techniques and Professional Communication. No Registration required! Contact hour certificates available upon request.
*Wellness and Connection Group Support – connect with your peers for small, closed groups of 6-10 members focusing on stress management and emotional health with the help of a licensed mental health clinician facilitator; 50-minute session take place bi-weekly for 3 months via Zoom.
All staff (includes office staff) general StrengthenME resources - This initiative seeks to help any Mainer with free, confidential, and anonymous resources if experiencing pandemic-related stress. Check out the tools, support, and community connections that promote wellness, resilience, and recovery. The resources can help people develop coping strategies and self-care practices before emotional challenges escalate into more serious mental health problems.
OTHER BEHAVIORAL HEALTH RESOURCES
- All Mainers can take advantage of the Statewide Crisis Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call, or text 888-568-1112. It is free, confidential, & staffed by trained crisis clinicians. Seek help immediately if you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed by depression or anxiety or talking about suicide, feelings of hopelessness or unbearable pain, or about being a burden.
- Maines 211 Service - Dial 211, text your zip code to 898-211, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://211maine.org/ to connect you to a wide range of services in your area.