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Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your commitment to AHN. Our patients and our communities are lucky to have a dedicated and caring team like you.

At all roles and at all levels of the network, we’re being challenged unlike ever before, but rest-assured, you are doing remarkable work.

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Have questions? We have answers.

Take a look at common FAQs for employees. If you have any additional concerns, please reach out to our 24/7 Nurse Line at (412) NURSE-4-U (412) 687-7348. Our care teams are available to answer your questions and prepare you for what’s to come.

Quick guide to FAQs

Safety Concerns

Coronavirus Exposure

Quarantine Procedures

Medical Benefits 

Compensation 

Time Away From Work

My Role

I have questions about my safety.

I spend most of my day with patients. What is my risk of getting COVID-19?

We’re all facing the uncertainty of Coronavirus. As a health care worker, you are under extreme stress right now. As you work around the clock to take care of patients, consider these six tips to help maintain your own physical, mental, and emotional health:

You’re on the front lines taking care of patients, which means you’re at higher risk of contracting Coronavirus. There’s no denying that. As a network, we’ve taken drastic steps to help keep you as safe as possible, and we will continue to implement new protocols as necessary:

  • We’ve set up triage tents outside our facilities to better — and more safely — screen patients.
  • We’ve moved to an evolving visitation policy at all our facilities.
  • We've limited student participation to keep patients, staff, and students safe.
  • We're staying in line with CDC and CMS protocols for screening measures.
  • We’re continuing to push video visits in order to limit the amount of in-person appointments.

You can lower your risk of infection by using the proper PPE and practicing social distancing with your coworkers. Don't forget to wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer as directed.

If you have unprotected close contact with a patient or direct contact with infectious secretions from a patient with COVID-19 — including sputum, serum blood, and respiratory droplets — you should inform your supervisor right away.

Have there been changes to the scrubs or uniform policy?

Yes. As a safety precaution, we’re asking that all employees who wear scrubs or uniforms consider these steps:

  • Wear “street clothes” to and from work.
  • Change into your scrubs or uniform before your shift.
  • Change back into your street clothes after your shift.

All of our hospitals and ambulatory offices have changing areas or bathrooms to use. As a reminder, it’s also policy that AHN-issued scrubs should only be worn in AHN facilities.

I don’t have access to a washer or dryer to launder my scrubs. What are my options?

If you don’t have access to hospital-provided scrubs, your personal scrubs can be safely laundered in commercial laundromats. Please use caution to decrease risk of contamination — place clothing directly into wash bin and wash your hands after touching any surfaces.

I have a high-risk family member and I work with patients. What steps should I take to keep my family member safe?

We know you’re worried about potentially exposing your family member to Coronavirus. But taking these everyday preventive actions can greatly decrease the likelihood of exposure:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • When at work, do your best to avoid touching highly-touched surfaces like elevator buttons, door handles, and handrails. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand if you must touch something and wash your hands after.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes.
  • Routinely disinfect your home — especially highly-touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, remotes, cell phones, and faucets.
  • Continue to practice social distancing — avoid crowds and all non-essential travel.

As a health care worker, consider these additional steps to keep you and your family member safe:

  • Wash your hands as you leave work.
  • Have shoes that you wear just for work and don’t bring them into your home.
  • Have hand sanitizer in your car to use after errands like pumping gas or touching an ATM.
  • Take your scrubs or work clothes off as soon as you get home and wash them.

I’m immunocompromised, or I’m pregnant, and I’m worried about exposure. What should I do?

If you have no COVID-19 symptoms but are immunocompromised or pregnant you should follow standard precautions and use proper PPE. If you’re pregnant, talk to your OB about your health circumstances and any additional precautions to consider. Pregnant employees without complications of their pregnancy can work as usual implementing proper PPE and standard precautions. It is recommended that pregnant employees not participate in procedures that involve aerosolization for COVID-19 and COVID-19 rule out patients.

Are new hires given AHN’s guidelines for staying safe?

Yes. We will tell all new employees about protocol changes, and we’re working to keep our new hire guidelines up-to-date.

What happens if I go into a patient room that was not Droplet Isolation and then changes to Droplet Isolation?

Talk with the charge nurse to find out why the patient was placed into isolation and then report any concerns to your manager. Your manager will follow up with Employee Health or Infection Prevention to find out if exposure may have occurred.

I work in the kitchen. What happens if a tray from a positive COVID-19 patient comes down to the kitchen and I’m required to clean it?

Always use gloves to handle any dirty patient trays. No additional precautions are needed for dishes, glasses, cups, or eating utensils used by Coronavirus patients. The combination of hot water and detergents used in hospital dishwashers will sufficiently decontaminate dishware and eating utensils.

I have questions about Coronavirus exposure.

I work in an AHN facility and I think I have been exposed to Coronavirus, what should I do?

Your health and safety are our top priority. If you feel you’ve been exposed at work, talk to your supervisor. They’ll help you fill out the appropriate form — an RL Solutions Report — and provide you with any additional support you need.

AHN employees with COVID-related symptoms should call Employee Health (412) 888-1200 for evaluation and expedited testing.

Who do I need to notify if I test positive?

Please call the Employee Health COVID-19 hotline at (412) 888-1200 and the HR Service Center (844) 242-HR4U. Each instance will be handled on a case by case basis and people will be informed as necessary.

What happens if I am sent home to self-isolate?

During your isolation, you may be required to maintain a daily temperature and symptom log.

An Employee Health clinician will monitor your status and be available for questions regarding any changes to your condition.

How are employees that were exposed being monitored?

Employee Health is using the CDC Healthcare Worker Exposure Guidelines to determine guidance on employee exposures. Depending on the level of exposure, self-monitoring, or quarantine are recommended.

Are new hires screened for COVID-19 exposure?

Leadership is looking at a new hire screening process to implement across the network; however, at the current time, new hires are brought through the visitor screening process at our larger hospitals.

What happens when I call the Employee Health hotline about COVID-19 symptoms?

The team will collect clinical information from you as part of the standard screening process. If it is determined you meet the CDC guidelines for being at risk, you will be given the following options on the next step(s):

  • Referred for a video visit with a provider or asked to schedule a visit with your PCP.
  • Depending on the results of the video or PCP visit, you may be instructed as to how to proceed with testing.
  • You must have an order to be tested for the coronavirus; testing locations will be provided to you during the video visit or PCP visit.
  • Your results will then determine next steps, which may include quarantine.

Can my manager ask me directly about COVID-19 symptoms if I appear to be ill at work or call in sick?

Yes. Given that COVID-19 is a worldwide pandemic, your manager is allowed to ask you about your symptoms in order to ensure the health and safety of our workforce and patients.

Can I wear my own face mask or other PPE?

Protective surgical loop masks for employees working in clinical areas are available at all AHN hospitals. While these masks are still available, we realize that some employees may also want to bring protective equipment from home (such as N95 masks and shields).

If employees working in clinical areas (including any patient-facing employees) wish to use their own masks and face shields, there is an established process in place for equipment review. The Infection Prevention team at the applicable facility must examine the masks and shields to determine safety/viability. If clinical employees bring masks, shields, or other protective equipment from home, they must call their local Infection Prevention team prior to usage:

Will we be getting N100 reusable masks?

Yes, in addition to the PPE we have been providing, we will also provide industrial-grade reusable N100 masks for our workforce. Because they are reusable, they can help significantly decrease our use of N95 masks. We will acquire the masks over the next several weeks and will distribute in phases. Read more about the masks and distribution plan on AHN Central.

Are N100 masks as good as N95s?

Yes. N95s are rated to filter out 95% of small particles. N100s are rated to filter out 99.97% of small particles and are used in industrial applications.

How will I know if I am to receive one of these masks?

Your supervisor will let you know that you need to be fitted.

Do I need to be fit tested?

Yes. There will be people onsite to help with this process. The masks are much easier to fit then conventional N95s and an educational module has been created.

Where do I put the mask when I am done with my shift?

Your supervisor will have information about where and when to deposit the mask at the end of your shift.

How do I prevent carrying a virus from clinic to clinic or from a clinic to my personal vehicle?

The best way to prevent transporting COVID-19 is to wear the appropriate PPE during suspect and COVID-19 infected patient encounters, proper PPE doffing practices and use of post encounter hand hygiene in the form of hand sanitizer or handwashing for 20 seconds.

Is there protocol (signage) for areas where non-clinicians should not be?

Yes, Isolation signs are posted outside of all COVID-19 patient isolation rooms. These rooms are restricted to essential staff.

If I’m suspected to have COVID-19 and sent home or have tested positive, how long must I be quarantined?

Healthcare providers (HCP) diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19 but not tested must be isolated for a minimum of seven days after symptom onset and after 72 hours of resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and feeling well.

Household contacts of persons with COVID-19 must be quarantined for seven days after their last household exposure. For most, this will be seven days after the person with COVID-19 is released from isolation.

Are we working to develop fast track testing and results for providers and health care staff?

We have made great strides with the ability to receive test results faster now that the number of test kits available has increased and the labs have worked through faster turnaround times.

I have questions about quarantine.

What does it mean to be quarantined?

The CDC has implemented travel restriction procedures and self-quarantine to protect travelers and the public from communicable diseases that constitute a public health threat. The purpose of such a quarantine is to separate and prevent the movement of individuals who do not have the symptoms, but who have been exposed to an infectious disease, in this case, COVID-19.

  • Quarantine requires you to stay home and not visit public places.
  • The self-quarantine period for the COVID-19 is the 14-day incubation period.
  • During this period, you are required to monitor yourself for any potential signs of the disease (coughing, fever, and/or shortness of breath) and monitor your temperature daily.
  • During this period, you should not be spending time with family or friends.

When is quarantine required and/or appropriate?

  • Quarantine is appropriate if you have symptoms, have been screened, and are awaiting test results.
  • A quarantine is no less than 14 days long.
  • Quarantine is not appropriate if you do not have symptoms and have not been exposed (those employees will not be tested for coronavirus)
  • In either case the employee must be cleared to return to work.

How are my work duties, attendance, and pay handled during an approved quarantine period?

If you are quarantined, you will continue to receive compensation and benefits during this period. A leave specialist will advise you and your manager on what to expect while you are on an administrative leave.

What if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 during an approved quarantine period?

When sick with COVID-19, you should continue to quarantine throughout the treatment period until you have recovered and your return to work has been approved.

What information can my manager share with the team if I or one of my colleagues has been quarantined?

Your privacy will be protected. Your manager cannot reveal the reason for an absence. They may share that you or your colleague is working from home or on a leave.

Will I continue to receive pay and benefits during the quarantine period?

You will continue to receive pay and benefits during this period. During this absence, you are not expected to work remotely, although some employees may be approved to work remotely and will be compensated accordingly. A leave specialist will advise you and your manager on what to expect while you are on an administrative leave.

Are employees’ jobs protected during the quarantine period?

Yes, employee jobs are protected during the quarantine period.

If a nurse is in quarantine, showing no symptoms, are they able to work the 24/7 nurse line?

During a period of quarantine, employees and managers should discuss the alternate options to work from home.

What if I develop symptoms of COVID-19 while quarantined?

If you develop symptoms (fever, cough and/or shortness of breath) of COVID-19 while quarantined:

  • AHN employees: you are required to contact AHN Employee Health at (412) 888-1200 to report your symptoms. An employee health nurse will provide specific instructions for further medical follow up.

However, if symptoms require emergent or urgent care, call 911 or call the nearest emergency room to let them know you are on the way. Notification in advance to the emergency room if self-transporting or to the EMS team that you are in quarantine COVID-19 is required.

I have questions about my medical benefits.

Is COVID-19 testing covered by my employee medical plan and what will it cost me?

Yes, the Highmark and AHN employer-sponsored medical plans cover COVID-19 testing at 100 percent when recommended by a medical professional. This means copays, deductibles, and coinsurance do not apply for this test.

  • Note: Office visits and urgent care visits will follow the current schedule of benefits with applicable copays, deductibles and coinsurance.
  • Contact Highmark Member Services at the phone number located on the back of your ID card for additional coverage-related questions.

Do I have a telemedicine or virtual care benefit?

If you participate in the Highmark or AHN employer-sponsored medical plans you have access to virtual care.AHN employees have access to Virtual Visits through MyChart. Simply log into the MyChart website at mychart.ahn.org or app to schedule your virtual visit.

Will telemedicine/virtual visit fees be waived?

Yes, effective March 13, cost-sharing including deductible, coinsurance, and co-payments associated with in-network and contracted telemedicine and AHN MyChart virtual medicine visits will be waived through September 31, 2020. This applies to both EPO and High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP). The waiver will apply to all telemedicine and AHN MyChart virtual visits regardless of whether the visit is related to the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19 (this include General Medicine, Behavioral Health and TeleDermatology visits). Your plan will pay for all waived cost-sharing for telemedicine and AHN MyChart virtual visits.

Will my benefits be cut if my hours are reduced?

As long as your employment status does not change, regardless of a temporary reduction in hours, you will not see a change in your benefit eligibility and/or coverage. Access HRSO > Life Changes > Change to Full or Part-Time Status for more detailed information on plan eligibility.

How will my benefits/PTO, etc. change if I accept an offer of redeployment?

This is a temporary job assignment, there are no changes to compensation or benefits. Employees will remain in their existing programs, not change organizations, etc.

Can I change dependent care my FSA deductions due to not needing child care?

Yes, you may decrease or stop your dependent care flexible spending account (FSA) contribution amount if your daycare facility is closed. Subsequently, you may enroll/increase the amount of your dependent care contribution when child care becomes available. You must notify and complete your change within 30 days of the event you are. Supporting documentation is not required for COVID-19 related events.

Can I change my annual HSA election due to the expansion of eligible expenses?

Yes. HSA contributions can be increased or decreased anytime throughout the year without a qualified change in status event.

I have questions about my compensation.

If I am absent for COVID-19-related reason, do I have to use paid time off benefits?

Until further notice, you’ll continue to be paid up to your current full-time equivalency without using paid time off benefits for the following COVID-19 related scenarios:

  • You are quarantined.
  • You are advised to self-quarantine by your health care provider as a result of exposure to COVID-19.
  • You are experiencing symptoms and seeking diagnosis.
  • You are caring for an individual who is quarantined or has been advised to self-quarantine.

If I am absent for any other reason (vacation, other illness, bereavement, etc.), do I have to use my paid time off benefits?

Employees taking time for personal reasons must use applicable paid time off benefits. This includes (but is not limited to), time off for vacation or an illness other than COVID.

Will I be paid if my office is closed?

If your work hours are reduced due to temporary closure of your work location, or lack of work, you’ll continue to be paid up to your current full-time equivalency without using paid time off benefits until further notice.

Are employees able to access their Extended Illness Bank (EIB) or Sick Time if they need to be off or are sent home based on lower volume/census?

No, at this time, the current practice for using your EIB or Sick Bank, if available, continues. EIB is used for an approved medical leave of absence.

Are employees allowed to go into the negative on paid time off benefits even for a short period of time?

No, at this time, the current practice for using paid time off benefits continues.  Refer to HR Services Online > Time Away from work > Time Off Options for more information.

If an employee is casual and gets called off due to low staffing needed, will they be at risk to lose their casual status if they do not meet the minimum required hours?

If the employee is called off due to low census, there should be no impact to their casual status.

Will I still get paid my regular weekly salary if I am exempt and working remotely?

Yes, if you are working from home, you will receive your regular weekly salary.

Will I still get paid for the hours I work remotely if I am hourly?

Yes, you will get paid for the actual hours worked.

If I’m redeployed to another area who manages my time card?

Your current manager will continue to manage your time in your temporary assignment.

I have questions about time away from work.

If I am absent for COVID-19 related reason, do I have to use PTO?

Until further notice, you’ll continue to be paid up to your current full-time equivalency without using paid time off benefits for the following COVID-19 related scenarios:

  • You are quarantined.
  • You are advised to self-quarantine by your health care provider as a result of exposure to COVID-19.
  • You are experiencing symptoms and seeking diagnosis.
  • You are caring for an individual who is quarantined or has been advised to self-quarantine.

Given the country-wide delaying of funerals and memorial services, should an employee have a loved one pass away that at some time in the future a service is held for, will they be able to take delayed bereavement time?

An employee who wishes to use one of their eligible bereavement days to attend a memorial service at a later date due to COVID-19, may do so. They may, however, be required to provide supporting documentation and get HR approval.

Will the PTO maximum balance be increased due to unused paid time away from work?

We are continuously reviewing our pay/benefit practices as the way we do work is changing. At this time, the current practice for paid time off carry over continues. Refer to HR Services Online > Time Away from Work > Time Off Options for more information.

I have questions about my role.

Could I be redeployed if my hours are being cut in my current role? Would I have to accept the new role?

Our expectation is that employees and their managers will partner to identify alternative work assignments for all employees as may be needed so that we can continue to care for our patients and customers. This may include alternate shifts, duties and/or locations. If an employee declines to report to their regular assignment/shift or alternate work assignments, including different shifts, duties and/or location, the employee must use available paid time off benefits for the reduced hours. If no paid time off benefits are available, the time will be unpaid.

Do I have to renew my certification and/or license during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Professional Licenses: any current employees whose professional license is set to expire or has expired since February 29:

  • To the extent that your applicable licensing organization has provided extensions to your license, we will honor any such extension if you comply with the directions and instructions provided below:
    • Current employees whose licenses have been extended must upload such documentation to their worker documents in Workday
    • Employees should maintain copies of such documentation and provide it upon request by management and/or Human Resources
  • All new hires must ensure that their professional license, and any applicable extensions, are provided upon hire and uploaded into workday
    • Certifications: CPR (CPR/AED, BLS), NRP & NRP Instructor, ACLS & ACLS Instructor, PALS & PALS Instructor
  • Current employees and new hires whose certifications expired after February 29, shall be provide 60 day extension for renewal. This allowance may be extended based on the evolving COVID-19 declaration of emergency.

What if I keep my ID in my locker and do not have it when entering a check point?

It is required for you to have your ID on you at all times while working.

If you have access to an AHN computer or device, visit AHNCentral for more Frequently Asked Questions.

Disclaimer:

Please note: these FAQs and our guidance will continue to evolve as the situation changes, including but not limited to, our current decision to compensate employees who are not performing work due to being subject to quarantine.

Contact us

If you have any additional concerns, please reach out to our 24/7 Nurse Line at (412) NURSE-4-U (412) 687-7348. Our care teams are available to answer your questions and prepare you for what’s to come.

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