What should I do if I am sick?
Regular benefits eligible employees have leave that is available to them to cover absences. Employees should follow standard request and approval procedures. Employees are asked to not come to work when they are sick and rather to stay home and use appropriate leave. If an employee appears to be exhibiting symptoms associated with coronavirus while at work, a manager may let the employee know they are excused from work and should seek care from a healthcare provider. The employee will be expected to use appropriate leave to cover the time away and may be expected to provide a release from a healthcare provider to return to work.
Will FMLA cover me if I become ill with the Coronavirus?
If you are eligible for FMLA based on the federal regulations and you have tested positive for COVID 19, then yes FMLA will be available to you.
If you have only been exposed to the virus, FMLA is not applicable. However, you may still need to be quarantined and applicable leave could be an option subject to standard request and approval procedures.
Will FMLA cover me if an immediate member of my family contracts coronavirus?
Yes, FMLA allows an eligible employee to take FMLA leave if either the employee or an immediate family member, defined as spouse, child or parent, contracts the disease.
What if I have been exposed, but I am not showing any symptoms?
Employees who believe they have been exposed, but are not showing symptoms may be required to self-quarantine. Managers have the discretion to determine if an employee’s duties and responsibilities can reasonably be performed from an employee’s home location, and when they can, the manager may elect to offer the employee the option to telework. If the duties and responsibilities cannot be performed from afar, the manager should advise the employee that they will be required to take appropriate leave to cover any absence. Employees must follow telework and flextime policies except that a manager can waive the requirement to complete an agreement and may use email to confirm approval to telework.
What if I have been exposed, and I am showing symptoms?
Employees who believe they have been exposed and are showing symptoms should seek care from a health care provider and may be required to self-quarantine. Managers have the discretion to determine if an employee’s duties and responsibilities can reasonably be performed from an employee’s home location, and when they can, the manager may elect to offer the employee the option to telework. If the duties and responsibilities cannot be performed from afar or the manager does not wish to consider telework, the manager should advise the employee that they will be required to take appropriate leave to cover any absence. The manager should let the employee know they will be required to provide a release from a physician or healthcare provider prior to returning to work. AU Health System employees are required to clear through Employee Health if they have been absent for three (3) or more days.
What guidance is available for home quarantine and isolation?
The CDC has guidance on this topic found at the website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/
If my job involves travel and I’m concerned about potential risks, what should I do? What if I am a manager of an employee who is scheduled to travel for work?
Managers and employees should discuss future business travel plans and review the most recent CDC guidelines for high risk classified areas. Managers will have the authority to rescind prior travel approval. All should exercise good judgment in evaluating travel.
What if I am planning to travel or have traveled out of state or out of the country? What if I have coworkers who have traveled or will be traveling out of state or out of the country?
The employee should notify their manager if they have traveled and been exposed or potentially exposed to the virus. Employees may be required to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution. If diagnosed or infected, the employee will be required to self-quarantine. The manager should let the employee know they will be required to provide a release from a physician or healthcare provider prior to returning to work.
Anyone planning to travel, either domestically or internationally, over spring break is encouraged to stay up to date with current travel alerts from the CDC. Currently, CDC recommends travelers should avoid nonessential travel to any country under a Warning Level 3 or higher.
As a reminder, anyone traveling to a country under a CDC Warning Level 3 or higher must not return to any USG campus or facility for 14 days following their return.
Can a manager consider telework or flex schedules for employees?
Yes, a manager has the discretion to determine if it would be reasonable for an employee to work from home, an alternate location, or, modify their work schedule. If the manager makes such a determination, he/she should work with the individual employee on modifying the employee’s business hours and/or scheduling the telework. It is important for managers to use this discretion wisely and appropriately. Not all positions are conducive to teleworking or flexible schedules. Teleworking should be limited to situations in which an employee is subject to quarantine. While now is a time that we encourage managers to be flexible, decisions around telework & flexible schedules must be reasonable. Managers should consult with their immediate supervisor as necessary. Employees must follow telework and flextime policies except that a manager can waive the requirement to complete an agreement and may use email to confirm approval to telework.
For Patient Care Providers
What can I expect if I become febrile while at work and have lower respiratory symptoms and have NOT recently traveled to a high-risk area or been exposed within last 14 days?
You will be asked to wear a surgical mask. Your care team will also wear masks, eye shield/goggles.
Your health care needs will be assessed, and you will be questioned about your symptoms, recent travel and potential exposure in an isolated room. Physicians and nurses will provide the necessary care for your situation, but you will only be hospitalized or require quarantine if they feel you may have contracted COVID-19.
Do I need an N-95 mask?
In most cases, team members, patients and visitors who are not in high-risk areas or in direct contact with high-risk patients will not benefit from wearing an N-95 mask.
Will I be covered by Worker’s Compensation if I have been identified to provide direct patient care or interaction with patients or others who have the disease, and I become infected in the course of performing my duties?
If an employee contracts the disease in the course of their employment, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation. In particular, this may be an option if the employees’ work requires them to be exposed to persons who are infected. If an employee incidentally contracts the disease from a co-worker, there likely will be no workers’ compensation liability.
Please contact Employee Health immediately if you are an employee of the health system and please contact DOAS immediately if you are an employee of the University. Employee Health can be contacted by calling 706-721-3418. DOAS may be reached by calling 404-656-9484.
Am I at high risk for COVID-19?
Our clinical team is working diligently to ensure that the patients are receiving the highest quality care in accordance with the procedures and protocols established by the CDC and the Georgia Department of Health. We are also working directly with employees who are responsible for patient care. Please do not hesitate to contact Employee Health, Human Resources or your manager if you have COVID-19 symptoms and you’ve possibly been exposed to the virus.
What can I do to avoid COVID 19?
Follow the CDC guidelines. Focus on handwashing, cough and sneeze etiquette and cleanliness of your areas.
Since Augusta University is an international community, what precautions are being taken by Human Resources as new employees arrive from abroad?
Human Resources welcomes all new employees and asks the same questions of all regarding recent travel by employees and/or members of their family to determine if self-quarantine is recommended or warranted.
Are precautionary measures being considered/undertaken when planning for Visiting Lecturers, Applicants, Grand Rounds speakers, etc.?
While no specific organizational response has been communicated, it may be recommended to inquire about the guest(s) recent travel to an area affected by widespread community transmission of COVID-19 to determine if a postponement may be recommended or warranted.
Are there plans to modify work stations/areas to reduce contact with other employees as a precautionary measure?
Each manager will review and make any necessary changes to work areas. If an employee is concerned about his/her work station/area, he/she should consult with their manager.
What can managers across the organization do to help Augusta University be prepared for Coronavirus?
Like any emergency situation, managers should have a standing assessment of their team to know which employees are considered essential to continuation of services and which employees may be in a reserve category. All employees of the Augusta University Health System and any of its related entities are considered essential given our patient care mission and our 24/7 operation. For the university, some employees are essential because their duties need to be performed regardless of an emergency or other urgent event, whereas others may have been designated as reserved by their manager. Managers should have this information already and should consult with their immediate supervisor if such a determination has not been made for the department. An employee in a reserved status may be called upon to assist other areas if the need arises.
Are there things I can do now to prepare myself and my family in the event of an outbreak in my community?
Everyone has a role to play in getting ready and staying healthy. We will continue to need staff here in our health system to continue the excellent care we provide to our patients. There are actions you can take now to prepare yourself, your family and our community. Follow public health official recommendations for community actions designed to help keep people healthy, reduce exposures to COVID-19 and slow the spread of the disease. The CDC encourages household members to prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community. We encourage employees to
- Create a household plan of action
- Practice good personal health habits and plan for home-based actions
- Be prepared if your child’s school or childcare facility is temporarily dismissed
- Plan for potential changes within your work unit or department. Additional details are available at the CDC website.
Remember, if you work in the health system, you are considered essential personnel and will be expected to meet your regular work schedule. Please work directly with your manager on any scheduling needs.
What are the current travel plans/restrictions for business and advice related to personal travel?
Due to the fluid nature of this pandemic, employees should strongly consider limiting personal travel at this time. In the health system, we will need all direct patient care providers and ancillary staff to assist in caring for our patients. If you voluntarily choose to travel to highly impacted areas, you will be subject to a mandatory quarantine for 14 days for the health and safety of our patient population. Your manager will need to know of your travel plans, and the manager will need to communicate when and where you will be traveling to Employee Health, as well as your planned return to work date, for tracking and follow-up purposes.
It is recommended that employees delay travel plans to countries categorized as Level II or higher under the guidance of the CDC. In addition, it is recommended that employees critically review any travel plans that could result in exposure. The situation is currently very fluid and travel restrictions today could be different by the time one travels and is returning home; thus, employees should plan for possible changes.
Managers and employees should discuss future business travel plans and review the most recent CDC guidelines for high risk classified areas. Business travel should be cancelled unless approved by your director, who will be required to secure approval from his/or her VP based on essential business needs. Managers will have the authority to rescind prior travel approval. All employees should exercise good judgment in evaluating travel.
Everyone should keep up to date on the CDC guidelines around travel.
If I travel outside of the U.S., when can I return to work?
Employees returning from countries with known outbreak categorized by the CDC as Level II or higher must quarantine for a period of 14 days before returning to work. Employees will need to use paid time off, sick or annual leave during the quarantine period and be cleared by Employee Health before returning to work. For university employees, per the USG, the normal cascading rules for leave will apply. For health system employees, the normal cascading rules for leave will also apply.