By Cherri Lindquist, BSN, RN, CCM, clinical nurse manager of Company Nurse LLC
It’s hard to miss — visit any news site and you’ll see COVID-19 vaccinations are getting into more and more Americans’ arms. According to the CDC, “As of April 22, 2021, one in three people in the United States over the age of 18 years are fully vaccinated and more than half of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.”
So, with more Americans getting vaccinated, what does the future hold for workplace health screenings? At Company Nurse, we think they’re here to stay. Here’s why:
Vaccination Accessibility and Effectiveness
While the vaccine is the first step to normalcy, organizations must take in account that although the vaccine is up to 95% effective, not all recipients will be effectively vaccinated against COVID-19.
And, while vaccine eligibility has expanded, there are those who still can’t receive the vaccine and those who will never be able to receive it due to underlying medical conditions. Outside of trials, children under the age of 16 are not yet able to get vaccinated against COVID-19, an age range that encompasses most students.
With students, teachers, staff, and visitors returning to schools, it’s important to continue screening for symptoms and/or exposures to COVID-19. This can help prevent the virus from spreading among students and others.
Outside of schools, other organizations may have employees that have chosen not to receive the vaccine, for personal or health reasons. So, to help maintain healthy work environments, organizations need to continue to monitor for those who are not effectively vaccinated and those who are not able to be vaccinated.
General Health Screenings
Screenings can expand beyond COVID-19 and be used for other illnesses — like the common cold and flu — to help keep workplaces healthy and protect employees and visitors from being exposed to viruses.
In the past, employees may have been wary of staying home from work due to an illness. Employees may have thought that they would appear to be undedicated and/or unreliable. However, the pandemic has made staying home when sick the responsible action.
With health screenings, users can report symptoms that they may have once brushed off, but actually indicate a need to stay home. Identifying these symptoms quickly allows for early awareness of illnesses. Your organization can then quarantine an ill employee to protect the health of the entire workplace and, as such, the productivity of the workplace.
While many organizations already have a health screening process in place, consider how your organization will evolve its screening process for the future.
At Company Nurse, we recommend incorporating your screenings with your attendance reporting process. With attendance check-ins, employees can instantly notify your HR team and necessary supervisors that they will not be able to report for work. This will help you to better manage your teams’ schedules and to find replacements for absent employees. Employees then have the option to indicate why they are staying home — for physical health, mental health, or a workplace injury — to be directed to the care they need.
Consider the procedures you will follow for different results. For example, what information do you need to be aware of if employees indicate they are feeling physically ill? For example, the symptoms they are experiencing, when they started feeling ill, and whom they came into contact with.
And, once you have these results, decide how you will record them and whom will you notify. Your HR representatives and the employees’ supervisors need this timely information to properly schedule your employees and cover absences.
The right system can also direct employees to the care they need. For physical health concerns, employees can be directed to appropriate providers for in-person care and/or telemedicine. And for employees who would like to address mental health concerns, you’ll want to provide direct access to your Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Perhaps an employee needs care for a workplace injury. In that case, the employee can be directed to a workers’ comp triage nurse to receive direction to covered providers. In turn, your organization can receive the information it needs to proceed with the claim.
Finally, consider how you will protect this information. Per ADA regulations, your organization needs to keep health records separate from HR files. Your organization needs an independent, secure process to help protect both your employees’ information and your organization from liability.
Health screenings are here to stay. Company Nurse can help your organization address all these considerations and more. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!