COVID INFORMATION
Updated: January 2022

  • MASK MANDATE: In accordance with current CDC infection control guidelines, HHC staff are required to wear to a mask at all times during each patient visit.

    • Mask should be donned prior to entering the residence and kept on until after exiting the residence.

    • KN95 masks are recommended / preferred and provided to staff upon hire & request.

    • KN95 & goggles are required PPE when providing care to a COVID-positive patient.

  • VACCINE RECOMMENDATION: Helms Home Care strongly encourages all [medically able] agency staff to receive the COVID vaccine / booster. There is no requirement or mandate for staff vaccination.

  

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: Do I have to get vaccinated?

A: No. Helms Home Care strongly recommends and believes in the efficacy of the COVID vaccine. We feel strongly that our nurses being vaccinated is in the best interest of our staff and our patients, however there is currently no vaccine requirement to work at HHC.

Q: Can patients ask me if I am vaccinated?

A: You have no obligation to answer any personal or polarizing question posed to you by a patient. Whether they ask who you voted for, what you believe in, or whether you are vaccinated or not, your best response is to decline to answer. Below are examples of a generic response and COVID-specific response to politely and professionally decline these questions. You are in the home to provide care, not to have a debate.

 

"I'm really not supposed to discuss anything that could be considered a polarizing topic. Even if we might have the same views and agree with each other, I don't want to get in trouble with my job so it's probably best not to have this discussion.

"I'm not allowed to share my personal health information with you, but if you have concerns about the nurses that are coming to your home, you can call the agency and request vaccinated nurses only."

 

Q: What happens if I'm not vaccinated?

A: You will be restricted from providing care to patients of select pharmacies that have implemented a vaccine requirement. These restrictions will be communicated when the referral is sent out, and / or on a one-by-one basis when a pharmacy opts to implement a requirement. Only vaccinated RNs should offer coverage / availability for referrals with a vaccine requirement.

 

Q: Who will know if I am vaccinated or not?

A: HHC respects your privacy. Your PHI is securely stored in your private employee medical record. Your vaccination record is only shared with a pharmacy vendor when you have provided care to their patient and they require and / or request proof of your vaccination.

 

Additionally, vaccinated RNs will be identified to our Care Coordination staff as "fully-active," which means they are approved to provide care to patients of all vendors, including vendors with a vaccine requirement. RNs that have not submitted proof of vaccination are not identified as "fully-active" and therefore restricted from seeing patients of those vendors.

Q: Which pharmacies are implementing / enforcing a vaccine mandate?

A: At this time, Optum (Briova/Diplomat/Thrive), Kabafusion, CVS / Coram, IV Solutions Rx and Amerimed pharmacies have implemented vaccination requirements for nurses providing direct patient care. 

Q: What should I tell my patients?

A: Nothing. Patients should not be unnecessarily alarmed or burdened by this information. If / when a patient must be re-assigned, we will ensure a smooth transition with the patient's care at the forefront of our efforts. 

 

Q: Will there be any exceptions?

A: Thus far, most of the vendors implementing a vaccine requirement are not open to exceptions or exemptions unless specific circumstances warrant the need. In the event an exception is made, testing requirements for the unvaccinated RN are required and communicated to that RN on a case-by-case basis. 

Q: How long do I have wear the required PPE for a COVID+ patient?

A: A COVID+ individual is estimated to be contagious for approximately 5 days post-onset of symptoms or 5 days post test results (if no symptoms present). Additionally, the patient must be symptom free for a minimum of 48 hours, so required PPE (KN95 mask and goggles) for COVID-positive patients should be worn by the nurse for a minimum of:

  • 5 days post-onset of patient symptoms, or

  • 5 day post positive patient test result, and

  • 48 hours post patient symptoms (without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines)

Q: When can I start seeing patient again after being COVID+?

A: You must isolate / quarantine for a minimum 5 days post-test and onset of symptoms. Additionally, you must be symptom-free for a minimum of 48 hours, so you can return to seeing patients after a minimum of:

  • 5 days post-onset of symptoms, and

  • 5 days post-positive test result, and

  • 48 hours post-symptoms (without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines)

If returning to patient care within 10 days of your positive test, a KN95 mask must be worn at all times while in the patient's residence, through Day 10, with Day 0 being the day of testing.

I HAVE TESTED POSITIVE

When a clinical staff member tests positive for COVID, he/she shall immediately:

  1. Complete and submit a COVID Report form, and

  2. Isolate at home for a minimum of 5 days post-test.

    • Day 0 is the day the COVID test was taken.

 

Then: 

  • If asymptomatic during the 5-day isolation period, the nurse may return to servicing patients on Day 6 while wearing a KN95 mask throughout the duration of all clinical visits, through Day 10.

  • If symptoms are present during the 5-day isolation period, the nurse may not return to providing patient care until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours; this cannot be prior to Day 6. Upon return, the nurse must wear a KN95 mask throughout the duration of all clinical visits, through Day 10.

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE
I am UNVaccinated

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE is defined as having un-masked close contact (within 6 feet for 5 or more minutes) with a COVID-positive individual.

Clinical staff following agency policy (Mask Mandate) should have no incidents in which potential exposure occurs while providing care as an agency nurse. Potential exposure for clinical staff should only occur in a personal setting/environment

When an agency nurse has a potential exposure event, he/she shall complete and submit a COVID Report form, then:

Unvaccinated, asymptomatic staff are restricted from serving patients for a minimum of 5 days, with Day 0 being the day of exposure. ​​​

  • On Day 5, a negative COVID test (rapid or PCR) can be obtained, and the unvaccinated staff member can return to servicing patients while wearing a KN95 mask, through Day 10 post-exposure.

  • If a negative COVID test is not obtained, the staff member is restricted from servicing patients for a minimum of 10 days post-exposure.

 

Continued Exposure: when exposure is daily / continuous due to a COVID-positive individual in the nurse’s household, the unvaccinated nurse is restricted from servicing patients for a minimum of 10 days post-test of the family member, with the day of testing being Day 0, and a minimum 10 days post-symptoms of the household member.

​​

 

Symptomatic: Should COVID-related symptoms present at any time during the 10-day post-exposure period, clinical staff must obtain a/another negative COVID test and may not serve patients until they are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 48 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants).

  • If an exposed, symptomatic clinical staff member does not obtain a negative COVID test, they may not serve patients until they are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 5 days.

 

 

Convenient at home rapid tests can be purchased from Wal-mart or Amazon and are equivalent to the rapid tests available at Urgent Care & Minute Clinic. 

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE
I am Vaccinated

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE is defined as having un-masked close contact (within 6 feet for 5 or more minutes) with a COVID-positive individual.

Clinical staff following agency policy (Mask Mandate) should have no incidents in which potential exposure occurs while providing care as an agency nurse. Potential exposure for clinical staff should only occur in a personal setting/environment

When an agency nurse has a potential exposure event, he/she shall complete and submit a COVID Report form, then:

Vaccinated, asymptomatic staff are allowed to continue servicing patients, without interruption, while wearing a KN95 mask, for a minimum of 10 days, with Day 0 being the day of exposure. ​​​

  • The Agency encourages a COVID test 5-7 days after the exposure occurred as an added measure of safety and assurance

  • Staff with high-risk patients scheduled and/or expressed concern for patients scheduled may choose to have those patients covered / re-assigned during the 5 to 7-day period until a negative COVID test can be obtained.

 

Continued Exposure: when exposure is daily / continuous due to a COVIDpositive individual in the nurse’s household, the vaccinated nurse must test 5-7 days following the positive test of the household member, and wear a KN95 mask when servicing patients, for a minimum of 10 days post-test of the family member and a minimum 10 days post-symptoms of the household member.

​​

 

Symptomatic: Should COVID-related symptoms present at any time during the 10-day post-exposure period, clinical staff must obtain a/another negative COVID test and may not serve patients until they are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 48 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants).

  • If an exposed, symptomatic clinical staff member does not obtain a negative COVID test, they may not serve patients until they are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 5 days.

 

 

Convenient at home rapid tests can be purchased from Wal-mart or Amazon and are equivalent to the rapid tests available at Urgent Care & Minute Clinic.