Exposed Employees

We are short handed in the office with difficulty hiring and retaining staff plus staff working from home some days, staff out due to non-COVID medical issues. We are a 7 doctor, 2 location practice, with less than 20 employees total. We now have 3 employees who have household exposure to COVID. CDC says they can work if asymptotic with precautions, but other employees and some physicians worry about having these employees in the office. They also worry about the Optics should the employee become COVID+.

Has anyone developed policies regarding this scenario?

My opinion only: the risk of an exposed but asymptomatic employee (especially a youngish and healthy one shedding virus unknowingly) outweighs the benefit of having them there in ambulatory pediatrics.

Have them work from home scanning charts or returning phone calls or telemed or doing phone triage. Yeah, they may only be 70% of their usual effectiveness working from home, but “maximal effectiveness” is not the hill I would die on. Protecting folks from this horrible virus is how working out “first, do no harm” looks in my life, right now :slight_smile:


Hello Dab,

I think we are all in the same boat. Here is my story if it helps you:
I have a small solo office with 1 provider equivalent and 4 full time employees. Last week, one of the employees had exposure in her home to her mother who tested positive but did not tell us. She silently wore a her mask all the time for a couple of days, but then we discovered the exposure when her 5 month old nephew came in for fussiness and tested positive in our office. I felt I had no choice but to close the office for a week (only open for telehealth) and test all employees and doctors. We all tested negative so far except for our exposed employee, so I plan to open back up on Monday. The exposed employee was asked to stay home and observe the 14 day quarantine and have a negative test before returning to work. Since the rates of cases have skyrocketed in our small community, the chances of exposure seem much greater. Decided to open back up at half schedule, only for well visits that require vaccines, and the rest to be addressed through telehealth. This is the letter I sent to all employees:

Hello all,

In anticipation that I can reopen the office on Monday, the following new policies apply until further notice to protect everyone’s health and safety:

-Only healthy visits allowed on the schedule. Every patient scheduled should be screened for exposure the day before their appointment over the phone. If there is evidence of exposure or symptoms, reschedule appointment.

-Screening of ALL employees and every customer (no exceptions) that comes in every day for COVID 19 exposure risk. Complete the COVID - 19 Screening Form for every person that enters the office. If any answer is yes, appointment should be rescheduled and persons encouraged to get tested as soon as possible. After the screening, the person should be asked to use hand sanitizer.

-LIMIT customers to one parent with the patient. Absolutely no additional people over the age of 3 will be allowed to enter the office if they do not have an appointment.

-Try to have all forms completed before the visit as to reduce physical time spent in office. Email or fax forms to patients before the appointment.

-For all sick visits, schedule telehealth for triage by doctor.

-Employees and customers to wear masks at ALL times while in the office. Please provide masks to the ones that come without one and instruct them that both mouth and nose need to be covered. Employees in direct contact with patients should also wear face shields when closer than 6 feet as much as possible.

-Exam rooms should be allowed to air out for an hour between patients. Disinfect all surfaces thoroughly after each patient, including door knobs and chairs.

-No eating in office (NO EXCEPTIONS). Employees should leave the office to eat lunch or snacks, because you cannot wear a mask while eating. When drinking during work hours, use a straw and only partially remove your mask to drink keeping your nose covered.

-Frequent handwashing through the day (at least every hour).

Thank you all for your cooperation and hard work! I am hopeful that with these measures, we will not need to close the office in the future.

Dr. Coppa

I figured half schedule is better than no schedule at all. Up to now, we were doing very well, and had a fairly full schedule. Now it is our turn to have the wave come to us. Reducing exposure to patients and employees is my primary goal. I hope these measures are only needed for a few weeks. For the financial hit, I am hoping the SBA loan will cover us until we can resume normal operations. I see no other path for this problem right now. Hopefully this is helpful to you.