COVID INFORMATION

Updated: august 2021

  • 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. 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 no longer be allowed to provide care to patients of select pharmacies. This means that some patients currently under your care will have to be reassigned to other nurses.

 

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 request proof of your vaccination.

 

Additionally, you will be identified to our Care Coordination staff as a "fully-active" RN, which means you 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, nothing has been officially decided or passed down to us, but we have a few vendors currently in communication with our DONs about the possibility with considerations from other vendors in the air.

 

Q: What should I tell my patients?

A: Nothing. We do not have enough information at this time, so patients should not be unnecessarily alarmed or burdened by this information. We are hopeful that a minimal number of patients will be effected. Once we are certain which patients will have to be re-assigned, we will ensure a smooth transition with the patient's care at the forefront of our efforts. Since the re-assignment is a result of a pharmacy policy, it is most likely that the pharmacy will want / need to communicate with the patient first.

 

Q: Will there be any exceptions?

A: Honestly, we don't know. We know some of you have valid medical exceptions for not being vaccinated. We know some patients live in remote areas where a vaccinated nurse may not be an option. We know some patients don't care about your vaccination status and just want the nurse they have had for so long and are used to. We know some patients have special needs and a change in nursing would be traumatic. We will advocate for our patients in anyway that we can, but ultimately the decision is not ours.

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 10 days post-onset of symptoms or post test results (if no symptoms present). Additionally, the patient must be symptom free for a minimum of 72 hours, so required PPE (KN95 mask and goggles) for COVID-positive patients should be worn by the nurse for a minimum of:

  • 10 days post-onset of patient symptoms, or

  • 10 day post positive patient test result, and

  • 72 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 10 days post-onset of symptoms or post test results (if no symptoms present). Additionally, you must be symptom free for a minimum of 72 hours, so you can return to seeing patients after a minimum of:

  • 10 days post-onset of symptoms, or

  • 10 day post positive test result, and

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

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.

As  a vaccinated nurse who has been potentially exposed, you should:

  1. Inform the Agency of when the potential exposure occurred and provide a list of all patient visits scheduled in the next 72 hrs, then:

  • Continue servicing patients while wearing a KN95 mask

  • Get tested 72-120 hrs after exposure as an added measure of safety and assurance

 

 

Vaccinated staff with high-risk patients scheduled or expressed concern for patients scheduled may choose to have those patients covered during the 72-hour period until a negative COVID test can be obtained.

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. 

Regardless of testing and any of the above parameters being met, clinical staff with known COVID-related symptoms (regardless of exposure status) may not serve patients until they are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 48-72 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants).

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.

As  an unvaccinated nurse who has been potentially exposed, you should:

  1. Inform the Agency of when the potential exposure occurred and provide a list of all patient visits scheduled in the next 72 hrs, then:

  • Discontinue patient care for a minimum of 72 hrs post-exposure

    • If patients can be rescheduled, then do so; otherwise make sure a Care Coordination team member is aware to reach out for coverage.

  • Get tested 72-120 hrs after exposure

  • Once a negative COVID test is obtained, you may return to patient care

 

 

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. 

Regardless of testing and any of the above parameters being met, clinical staff with known COVID-related symptoms (regardless of exposure status) may not serve patients until they are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 48-72 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants).