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Update to Caregivers – 3.31.20

We are utilizing our email communication to give you updates on how to keep yourself safe and what is going on at Personal Care during this Covid-19 pandemic. This challenge means that in any given day, policies, procedures, and information may change multiple times. Our plan is to send you email updates on Mondays and Fridays. If we need to add a mid-week email we will do so.

First and foremost, thank you for being as calm and helpful as you have been. In the midst of school and daycare closings, 99% of you have continued to work your schedule and go to work. Your commitment means security and safety for our clients, and our goal is to keep both you and them as safe as we possibly can.

Here are some updates, with the most recent ones first, and reminders below.

Protective Personal Equipment (PPE), which means gloves, masks, and gowns are in short supply. Until last Friday, March 20, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), asked that we refrain from issuing masks, because of the shortage for acute practitioners, such as hospital and emergency first responders. Last Friday the CDC suggested that Health Care Practitioners working on hospitals wear masks. They did not indicate whether this included private-duty homecare employees. On that day we began mobilizing volunteers to make masks. It takes 20-30 minutes to complete each mask. Volunteers are working hard on sourcing materials and getting more masks made daily.

These masks have been delivered to employees working at King’s Bridge, Canterbury Court, and Saint Anne’s Terrace. We have delivered the masks as they have come available. This week these will be delivered to employees working in private residences. They are delivered in a paper bag, per CDC guidelines. The bag includes a few gloves, and a letter verifying you as an essential employee, should you be asked to prove this, and the cleaning instructions for the masks. If you know anyone who sews and might want to help with this effort please let us know and we will get in touch with them with supplies and directions. If you have already received a mask we welcome feedback about the fit and comfort.

We have approximately 95 N95 masks at the office. We have been purchasing these 10 at a time, often requiring us to be at a store at 6am when they open. Our goal is to have enough for each of you to have one of these, and ultimately two washable masks. Our plan is to distribute the N95 mask when we have enough to give one to everyone. Sanitizing your masks and understanding contamination is important.

We received a large shipment of gloves Friday which took ten hours to source. Gloves are in high demand and many clients who normally supply their own gloves are unable to do this at this time. We are asking that you be mindful of the shortages and your glove use.

One of the biggest challenges is the lack of access to testing. As essential employees in health care each one of us should have access to testing now and when we feel we need it. It is simply not available unless you are demonstrating acute symptoms. Governor Kemp recently reminded us that testing is NOT available for people who want it unless you are experiencing the following symptoms:
• A high fever accompanied with respiratory distress
• The need to be hospitalized due to respiratory distress
• A member of the high risk group that is exhibiting symptoms
• A person that the CDC or Department of Health has determined requires testing

We have reached out to the private labs that are in Atlanta to inquire about access to testing. Private labs still require a physician’s order to test, and you still must exhibit symptoms. One of our buildings is working with a private lab and if this arrangement proves successful we will try to access this opportunity too. If you hear of testing that is available please let us know.

As this is also the height of the pollen season in our beautiful city, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain if you have allergies, a sinus infection, or the virus. The biggest identifier for the virus is the spiked fever and the cough at the back of the throat, along with difficulty breathing. This is not the time to go to work sick. If you do not feel well we would rather you call and consult with us about how you are feeling before you go in to work if you are feeling unwell.

As a reminder proper handwashing technique is crucial in infection control management. Wash your hands after touching anything in public for a minimum of 20 seconds. Wash your hands when you arrive at work. Do not set your phone down in public areas, and consider disinfecting it throughout the day.

Another communication is being sent out with reminders about physical distancing and infection control measures. Launder your uniforms frequently and if possible remove your shoes before you enter your home.

Again, we thank you for your commitment to the work we do and the ways in which you have reassured your clients during this uncertain time. Each week Danielle is on a call with the CDC and Department of Health regarding best practices and procedures. This information is changing frequently as we learn more about Covid-19. Additionally she is on a call with other home care providers to discuss what measures they are taking to protect staff and employees.

Some of you have contacted us with creative suggestions and it is appreciated. We encourage you to let us know if you have questions, concerns, or feedback. Danielle is available by phone or email at dagrabol@personalcare.net