Time & Attendance
By Andie Burjek
Mar. 31, 2020
In normal times, accessing health care on the property of an employer is a convenience. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, such access may stoke safety and hygiene concerns. Patients are supposed to avoid getting medical care unless it’s necessary in order to avoid coming into contact with the virus, and even accessing shared surfaces like biometric time clocks can put employees at risk.
According to Mercer, 17 percent of U.S. employers with at least 500 employees offer primary care through onsite or near-site clinics. During the COVID-19 outbreak in which people must social distance, employers may come across unique challenges with their onsite clinics and need to strategically rethink how to manage them
Mercer’s Worksite Clinic Consulting practice created a guide to manage employer-sponsored clinics during the pandemic.
The guide focuses on best practices to mitigate risk for employees and patients, respond to staffing limitations, identify supply chain barriers and “optimize the interest of public health.” The top six steps are:
Just like larger health care systems, all employer health clinics and health workers must be prepared to evaluate and manage risks related to COVID-19. Proper infection-control equipment is a must, and clinic workers must know how to “safely isolate, transport and quarantine potential patients.”
Reducing the number of people requiring face-to-face examinations is necessary and can be accomplished via telehealth phone calls or video appointments.
Clinic staff members may get sick or need to take time off to care for a sick family member. Preparing for staff absenteeism doesn’t necessarily mean employees can’t work just because they can’t visit the clinic. Organizations can “repurpose clinical staff confined to their homes to be part of a virtual care team,” the guide stated. “This team can work together remotely to triage and serve patients via telephone or video visits to forestall the need for an in-person visit.”
Organizations can also support older staff members or those with health conditions by providing them virtual assignments only.
Meanwhile, communication is a key factor in all these steps. Employers should plan to communicate with their staff at least once a day regarding the status of COVID-19 in their community and within their organization, according to the guide. What’s especially important to communicate is how the company is dealing with various issues and challenges brought on by the outbreak.
Some communications best practices for employer clinics include:
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