Check here for all updates and resources related to the coronavirus.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Stay Home if You are Sick:We want to remind everyone of the extreme importance of staying home if you are feeling sick. This not only applies if you feel too sick to work, but also includes mild symptoms like body aches, sore throat, or a cough.

 

With allergy season upon us, it can be easy to overlook mild symptoms, and we know that everyone wants to contribute during this challenging time. But we cannot stress the importance of this enough: stay home if you are feeling sick or have any symptoms. Be vigilant and closely monitor your health so that you do not put our staff and patients at risk of exposure.

 

Respecting Privacy: Also, as always, please keep the privacy of others at the front of your mind. Disclosing the health information of others, including other staff, is never appropriate, and in the current climate it is especially important to maintain privacy. The Infection Control team will contact you if you were identified as having close contact with a staff member that has tested positive for COVID-19

 

IMPORTANT UPDATES

 

Clarification on New Patients: Below are a few clarifying points for how to schedule new and existing patients:

  • Patients that are completely new to the Unity system (no existing chart in eCW) may only be seen through a telehealth appointment for their initial visit.
    • After their first telehealth appointment, they may be directed to or seek in-person care if needed.
  • A Unity patient at ANY site is a Unity patient at EVERY site. If a patient has a chart in eCW, they can be seen at any of our sites.

We trust your judgment! We know that broad guidance can’t specifically address every unique situation you may face in your health centers. In those situations, health center leadership should use their judgment to make decisions that serve the best interest of the patient while balancing the needs of staff safety. Fighting the virus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kudos: Special thanks to our tent teams including Access Control, PRCs, MAs, nurses, dental staff, and providers in the successful launch of our outdoor evaluation tents! Your flexibility and willingness to pitch in has been essential to allowing us to treat patients in a safe, efficient environment.

 

Frequent Flyers: Here are a few quick links to up-to-date forms and guidance being used in our health centers most often:

Mental Health Moment: Exposure to nonstop news about COVID-19 can exacerbate anxiety and fear. This weekend set a goal for how much news about the topic you and your family will consume - and stick to it! For example: “I will consult 2-3 credible sources for no more than 30 minutes per day” or “I commit to a full day and night without news exposure.” You’ll feel better and stay informed.

 

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • Due to temporary limitations of metro and bus services, we realize that some staff may experience difficulty getting to and from work. If you are in need of transportation, please reach out to your Health Center Director for further assistance.
  • Both CareFirst and Kaiser are providing COVID19 testing and telemedicine visits for all members and their enrolled dependents at no cost. The insurance carriers are covering these costs at 100% for our CareFirst and Kaiser members.
  • Congrats to Ms. Glenis Perez, Case Manager at Upper Cardozo, the winner of yesterday’s mind meld challenge! Check out more resources and games on the EEE Total Rewards Daily Detox site.
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share our latest COVID-19 information with others in the community.

 

QUICK LINKS

 Thursday, April 2, 2020

thank you image

Not only are we thankful for your hard work, patience, and perseverance; your city is thankful for you too. 

Not only are we thankful for your hard work, patience, and perseverance; your city is thankful for you too. We know that each day brings new obstacles, but as you face these challenges, know that each of you are appreciated by your Unity family and your community at large. Photo taken in Columbia Heights.

 

IMPORTANT UPDATES

  • Supplies Update: Today we received a shipment of assorted personal protective equipment (PPE) materials from the city DC Health. These supplies are being distributed across our centers. While the acquisition of PPE is fantastic news, we must remain cautious and continue following guidelines for optimized use of PPE. Please continue to be good stewards of the supplies and closely monitor the amount of PPE at your sites so we can keep our staff safe for the duration of this emergency.
  • Telehealth Update: Thank you to everyone that has been contributing to our telehealth efforts! We are nearly two weeks into this initiative, and our telehealth numbers are steadily growing. Click here to access a grid on how we are scheduling patients as we continue to ramp up telehealth. Help us build our telehealth presence by being a Telehealth Warrior!

 Telehealth warrior

 

  • Infection Control Update: The Unity Infection Control team has been essential in tracking Unity’s response to COVID-19 and maintaining a safe work environment. Please continue to call the IC team at (202) 715-6592 to report all suspected COVID-19 patients and staff with exposure or symptoms and track that data through the COVID-19 Data Entry and Tracking Form.
  • Also, in compliance with our guidance on Infection Control, please make every effort to implement physical distancing at your health centers. This includes incorporating physical distancing precautions in patient care areas as well as non-patient care areas, such as lunchrooms, breakrooms, and other meeting spaces
  • We’ve been really encouraged by the increased communication at and across our health centers, but as in-person huddles have officially moved off the menu, it's time to get creative! Virtual huddles are an excellent option for physically distant communication; we encourage staff to explore meeting options that align with physical distancing requirements and best fit your sites’ needs.Stand together-by sitting apart
  • Spanish translations of Patient Discharge Instructions are now available in the Clinical Resource Library! Stay tuned – they’ll be available in eCW order sets soon. 

  • Homeless Outreach: As our Healthcare for the Homeless at Unity teams continue their diligent work to treat and contain the coronavirus in their patient population, we want to remind all health center staff of proper protocol to follow at this time. Contact the DHS Hotline for COVID Isolation at (202) 671-3076 for any homeless patients that screen positive for COVID-19. DHS will arrange for transportation to a facility where the patients will be tested, quarantined, and monitored until results return.  
  • Reduced Metro Access: Due to temporary limitations of metro and bus services, we realize that some staff may experience difficulty getting to and from work. If you are in need of transportation, please reach out to your Health Center Director for further assistance.
  • Medical Insurance Coverage for Staff: Both CareFirst and Kaiser are providing COVID19 testing for all members and their enrolled dependents. CareFirst and Kaiser also offer telemedicine visits for members so you can access your PCP from the comfort of your home. COVID19 testing and telemedicine services are of no cost to our CareFirst and Kaiser members. The insurance carriers are covering these costs at 100%. Remember, mental health visits are also eligible through telemedicine, so don’t hesitate to schedule a visit for you or your covered dependents during this time. Should you have questions or need assistance, contact your Total Rewards Team at (202) 741-5615 or email Benefits2@unityhealthcare.org 
  • Outdoor Rapid Evaluation Update: As of early next week, we should have 3 additional Unity sites – Parkside, Brentwood, and Minnesota Avenue – set up for outdoor rapid evaluations! Stay tuned for more information.  
  • Mental Health Moment: For staff caring for young children, this can be an especially difficult time. Kids look to adults for answers to difficult questions, and a little bit of basic information can go a long way to alleviating their fears and anxieties. Click here to download a coloring book that contains kid-friendly, factual information about the coronavirus to help you provide answers to tough questions AND keep the kiddos busy for a few minutes.

 

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • During this time, your wellness is a priority! The EEE Total Rewards Team has developed a wellness resource to help staff decompress, recoup, and reconnect during these challenging times. This resource is available 24/7 by visiting www.unityhealthcare.org/employeewellness. Looking for more? Click here for a curated list of meditations, sleep stories, music, and more from the Calm app. 
  • Click here to view a list of approved Maryland daycare providers for essential workers. 
  • Share our social media posts with the public! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share our latest COVID-19 information with others in the community. 

QUICK LINKS

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Hero Image - Copy

IMPORTANT UPDATES

  • Telehealth Successes: Yesterday, March 31, was the first day that the number of telehealth visits exceeded face-to-face visits at Unity! In just the past week, the number of telemedicine- audio visits tripled, and the number of telemedicine-video more than doubled. Great work to our health center and PSC teams, and keep it up! Telehealth continues to be our preferred method for seeing patients currently, and it is vitally important to continue to build on this outstanding effort.
  • We are anticipating news coverage regarding an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 that received care through Unity in the early stages of illness. We pray for a speedy recovery as we reflect on the important role of community health centers in the global effort to contain and treat this virus.
  • Self-Attestation: Please remember, all staff working at health centers are required to self-attest to their health daily. This includes staff that may only have indirect encounters with patients or infectious materials. If you are worried that you might have a fever but don’t have a thermometer at home, please let a clinical leader at your health center know and they can assist you. Taking steps to ensure sick staff are staying out of our health centers is a critically important part of maintaining a safe working environment.  
  • Infection Control and PPE Optimization: Thank you to staff at the centers that are working to implement our guidance regarding Infection Control and Optimization of PPE. Please remember, per this guidance, we are not currently monitoring temperatures during screenings on employees, patients, or visitors in the community health centers to avoid risk of exposure and to maintain the privacy of patients, visitors, and staff. If a patient screens positive and needs to be evaluated, their temperature and further history will be taken during their evaluation. We are working to obtain non-contact infrared thermometers, and will provide additional information as it becomes available.
  • Special thank you to our IT Department! Your hustle and responsiveness have helped equip our providers and other staff with the resources they need to work effectively and safely in a variety of settings.  
  • Be sure to review our updated Testing Criteria and Prioritizations guidance, which will help Unity maintain a safe working environment while ensuring those at highest risk are rapidly identified and appropriately tested. 
  • Mental Health Moment: We all know about hand washing, but have you ever heard of Thought Stopping? Thought stopping is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique you can test out during times of anxiety. When you notice yourself having the same negative thought over and over, you literally say the word "Stop" out loud and consciously replace that thought with another, more positive thought. Give it a try the next time you feel stuck in a negative or stressful thought! Contributed by Jennifer Pauk.

Thoughts Stopping Strategies - Copy

 

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • For all suspected COVID-19 patients and staff with exposure or symptoms, please continue to call the Unity Infection Control Team at (202) 715-6592 and complete the COVID-19 Data Entry and Tracking form. For any homeless patient who screens positive, please contact the DHS Hotline for COVID Isolation at (202) 671-3076. DHS will arrange for transportation to a facility where the patients will be tested, quarantined, and monitored until results return.
  • Share our social media posts with the public! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share our latest COVID-19 information with others in the community.
  • Click here to view a list of approved Maryland daycare providers for essential workers.

QUICK LINKS

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

IMPORTANT UPDATES

“Promoting healthier communities through compassion and comprehensive care, regardless of ability to pay.” The importance of our mission at this time cannot be overstated, and neither can our gratitude to the staff out in the field making our mission a reality! It is an honor to be a part of the Unity family as we pull together to care for the District’s most vulnerable patients.

Special thank you to our Healthcare for the Homeless team! Your commitment to screening, identifying, and placing people experiencing homelessness in DC during this time of amplified vulnerability is a true asset to our community.

  • Outdoor rapid evaluations went live at Upper Cardozo today! Sincere thanks to all of the staff that made this effort possible. It’s through your hard work and dedication that we’re able to create a safe and efficient screening environment. Outdoor evaluations are continuing at Anacostia as well, and Minnesota Avenue is up next!  
  • We are leveraging technology in exciting ways to meet the new challenges posed by COVID-19. In order to ensure continued privacy and security of sensitive information, we have implemented additional levels of security to eCW, including eCW Patient Security Access Codes (P.S.A.C.). Click here to read a full explanation of this feature, and please note that you may see new pop-ups appear when you pull up patient charts as a result of this new effort.  
  • As we continue to respond to the demands of the coronavirus, many of our health centers will be modifying their hours of operation. Below are the hours of operation as of 6 p.m. on March 31, but please note, these times are subject to change as our response to the coronavirus continues to evolve.

Updated health centers 3-31-20

  • Yesterday, we released new guidance regarding Infection Control and Optimization of PPE. All staff are encouraged to read the guidance in full, but here are a few key reminders!
    • Employees working in a health center will self-attest to the status of their health daily. Connect with your supervisor to make sure you’ve got access to your site’s attestation form!
    • Try your best to implement physical distancing precautions in your work environment. Avoid large meetings and huddles. Try to connect virtually whenever possible and maintain 6 feet of distance from coworkers even if you’re working near someone!

Stand-Standing Together Image

  • PPE Conservation and Status Update: Thank you to all staff for your diligent work to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE). As the worldwide demand for PPE continues to impact healthcare providers, Unity is working tirelessly to follow leads and increase our stock of supplies. While our current PPE stock is low, we expect to receive more supplies this week and will continue to keep you posted as we have more developments. Again, thank you all for being judicious with your use of PPE to ensure we maintain a safe environment for all of our staff and patients!  
  • Click here to review updated Testing Criteria and Prioritizations. These precautions will help us ensure those at highest risk are rapidly identified and appropriately tested. As our situation constantly changes, we want to issue a reminder that our patient screening form currently remains unchanged. Thank you for your continued flexibility as we continually balance new information with our experience here at Unity.  
  • We are continuing to monitor and care for confirmed cases of the coronavirus in DC Jails. Unity staff are doing outstanding work and going above and beyond to screen, contain, and treat patients in this unconventional care environment. We are committed to continue working with the DOC to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and continue delivering consistent, quality care to this patient population.
  • REMINDER: There is a Unity Pulse Live webinar for managers and supervisors tomorrow from 12:30 – 1 p.m. This webinar will serve to provide information and answer questions regarding the coronavirus. Email questions to communications@unityhealthcare.org before 10 a.m. We’ll do our best to address as many as possible! All question submissions will remain anonymous.  

Box Breathing

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • Patient Discharge Instructions (including some Amharic materials added today!), Return to Work Letters, and Provider Scripts for delivering COVID-19 test results have been added to the Clinical Resource Library. Please continue to email Nicole Davis (nvdavis@unityhealthcare.org) with suggestions for additional resources.  
  • For all suspected COVID-19 patients and staff with exposure or symptoms, please continue to call the Unity Infection Control Nurse at (202) 715-6592 and complete the COVID-19 Data Entry and Tracking form. For any homeless patient who screens positive, please contact the DHS Hotline for COVID Isolation at (202) 671-3076. DHS will arrange for transportation to a facility where the patients will be tested, quarantined, and monitored until results return. 
  • Share our social media posts with the public! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share our latest COVID-19 information with others in the community.  

Monday, March 30, 2020

IMPORTANT UPDATES

  • We are currently in a national emergency and Unity is a critical part of providing healthcare for DC. We are not operating under normal circumstances and we need everyone to come to work to serve our patients. We appreciate everyone being flexible and nimble. Over the next two months, we expect everyone to work as scheduled and to understand that schedules and/or locations may change based on the needs of the organization.
  • We expect everyone to work as assigned. This pandemic is impacting all of us. If you need an accommodation and cannot participate in COVID-19 evaluations, please follow appropriate procedures to provide medical documentation to EEE. With the updated Infection Control Guidance dated March 30, the health centers (outside of the COVID Evaluation sites) are lower risk environments and staff are expected to participate in providing care. 
  • New guidance regarding Infection Control and Optimization of PPE were released today. Below are select highlights, but all staff, especially those working in our health centers, should read this document in full.
    • Starting April 1, all Unity employees will self-attest to the status of their health daily.
      • Sick and symptomatic employees SHOULD NOT come to work. Sick employees should notify their direct supervisor and Infection Control at (202) 715-6592. Employees who report to work while sick or do not self-attest will be sent home.
      • If employees become sick at work, they should immediately notify their direct supervisor and Infection Control and return home.
    • All patients and visitors will be continue to be screened before entry into our facilities using the current version of the screening form at all sites. We will continue to only allow one accompanying visitor per patient.
    • Effective immediately, all health care personnel (persons who have direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious material) working in patient care areas should wear a surgical mask. We recommend using one mask daily during this time.
    • Pursuant to CDC and DC Health recommendations, please implement physical distancing in work areas wherever possible, including the health centers.
      • Try to keep employee work areas more than 6 feet apart, and encourage employees to wipe down their stations prior to and after use.
      • Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Utilize technology such as Zoom webinars, Microsoft Teams, etc., to connect with people and huddle.
  • Waiting areas and patient care areas should also be configured to promote physical distancing and limit exposure. 
  • Outdoor rapid evaluations are launching at Upper Cardozo this week! Thank you to all of the staff involved in the execution of this initiative. Your flexibility and dedication are key to our success!
  • A big thank you to our ATSU-SOMA medical students at Unity for creating a living document with up-to-date and curated literature from scholarly publications about the coronavirus. The document can be viewed on the Clinical Resource Library, and will be updated as new research emerges.
  • Mental Health Moment: During this difficult time of change and uncertainty, it can be natural to experience feelings grief, loss, and anxiety. Don’t minimize your loss by comparing your struggle to the struggles of others. Take time and space to recognize your feelings and physical reactions as you adjust to this changing environment. Click here to read more on this subject from contributor Jason Wallis.
  • In recognition of National Doctor’s Day, some of our Unity doctors have taken time to reflect on what it means to be a Unity provider and what motivates them during their daily work. Now more than ever, it’s important to remember why we do what we do and who we’re doing it for! Click here to watch a compilation video of Unity providers. THANK YOU to our Doctors for your service! 

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • Elected officials in DC, Maryland, and Virginia have issued Stay at Home orders. As you know, essential employees are permitted to travel to and from work. If you are traveling for work, make sure you're carrying your Essential Healthcare Worker Letter of Travel. If you haven't already received this document, you can get it from your supervisor.  
  • Patient Discharge Instructions, Return to Work Letters, and Provider Scripts for delivering COVID-19 test results have been added to the Clinical Resource Library. Please continue to email Nicole Davis (nvdavis@unityhealthcare.org) with suggestions for additional resources to include on the Microsoft Sharepoint site.  
  • For all suspected COVID-19 patients, please continue to call the Unity Infection Control Nurse at (202) 715-6592 and complete the COVID-19 Data Entry and Tracking form. For any homeless patient who screens positive, please contact the DHS Hotline for COVID Isolation at (202) 671-3076. DHS will arrange for transportation to a facility where the patients will be tested, quarantined, and monitored until results return.

  • Share our social media posts with the public! Unity has been using our social media channels to keep our patients and partners up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 information. Click these links to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and share our posts with others in the community.
  • If you are looking for community resources for patients, visit unityhealthcare.org/coronavirus. The list will be continuously updated as we get more information. Make sure you've got the latest internal information by revisiting Coronavirus Daily Digest emails on the Unity website at unityhealthcare.org/coronavirus/updates.
     

Friday, March 27, 2020

IMPORTANT UPDATES

  • We are incredibly fortunate to have the tools and staff available to offer telehealth appointments. Telehealth lets us align our work with the Quadruple Aim during this complicated time by increasing access for patients, prioritizing patient experience and staff well-being, and supporting the organization’s health during a time of economic uncertainty. Telehealth is currently our preferred method for seeing patients. It is vitally important to make an effort to evaluate as many patients as possible, through telehealth, including new and sick and patients.
  • We are committed to the safety and well-being or our staff and patients, and we are relying on all of you to commit to the safety of others by continuing to monitor your health and staying out of the health centers if you are symptomatic or feeling unwell. Please note, it is CRITICAL that you stay home if you are sick or experiencing symptoms. If you come to work while you are displaying symptoms, you will be sent home. While we appreciate everyone’s dedication during this time, coming into work while you are sick puts others, including patients and staff, at risk. If you are sick or experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat, notify your supervisor and call the Infection Control Nurse at (202) 715-6592 immediately.
  • Special thanks to Kissa Robinson, Bianca Thompson, and the rest of our DOC staff for their ongoing diligence in case tracing and management in a challenging and changing environment. We appreciate you!
  • As Unity continues to do everything we can to screen all of our patients and visitors, we wanted to clarify our screening, evaluation, and testing processes as they currently exist.

Screening Evaluation Process

  • Outdoor rapid evaluation of patients continued today at Anacostia. Kudos to our Facilities and Environmental Services teams for their quick and efficient work setting up our outdoor evaluation tents and keeping our work environments clean and safe for our patients and providers! Upper Cardozo is up next on our list for outdoor evaluation stations.  
  • As we continue to respond to the demands of the coronavirus, many of our health centers will be modifying their hours of operation. As a reminder, NO Unity community health centers will be open this Sunday, March 29. Our Department of Corrections and Homeless Services facilities operate on unique schedules, and their hours will remain the same through this weekend.
  • Share our social media posts with the public! Unity has been using our social media channels to keep our patients and partners up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 information. Click these links to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and share our posts with others in the community.

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • For all suspected COVID-19 patients and staff with exposure or symptoms, please continue to call the Unity Infection Control Nurse at (202) 715-6592 and complete the COVID-19 Data Entry and Tracking form. For any homeless patient who screens positive, please contact the DHS Hotline for COVID Isolation at (202) 671-3076. DHS will arrange for transportation to a facility where the patients will be tested, quarantined, and monitored until results return.  
  • If you have questions about telemedicine, please access the Telemedicine Teams site, our most up to date repository on telemedicine, as well as the new version of eCW for home access.  
  • Patient Discharge Instructions, Return to Work Letters, and Provider Scripts for delivering COVID-19 test results have been added to the Clinical Resource Library. Please continue to email Nicole Davis (nvdavis@unityhealthcare.org) with suggestions for additional resources to include on the Microsoft Sharepoint site.

  • Microsoft Teams is a quick and easy way to connect with your staff in an instant, and it only takes a minute to download. Click here for an introduction to Microsoft Teams. Click here to download the application.
  • If you are looking for community resources for patients, visit unityhealthcare.org/coronavirus. The list will be continuously updated as we get more information. Make sure you've got the latest information by revisiting Coronavirus Daily Digest emails on the Unity website at unityhealthcare.org/coronavirus/updates

Thursday, March 26, 2020

IMPORTANT UPDATES  

  • Tent Evaluation Rollout: Outdoor rapid evaluations of patients with respiratory symptoms began today at Anacostia! Thank you to Dr. Jennette Hathorn for her expertise and leadership in getting this initiative up and running. Upper Cardozo is up next!
  • We are continuing to replenish supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at our health centers. Orders for more surgical masks and N95 respirators have been ordered and will be shipping soon. Special thank you to Kent Campbell for his hard work in gathering these supplies and finding leads to continue to sure up our PPE inventory.
    • Click here to review recommendations from DC Health on the conservation of PPE.  
  • Telehealth Update: Everyone plays an important role in the success of this program! Providers can now schedule telemedicine visits and change telemedicine visit status in eCW. Our PRC and PSC staff are using their scheduling and registration expertise and extensive training to ensure Unity providers are being properly reimbursed for these visits, and our MAs are performing the important task of getting consent from patients to transition visits to audio and video. Thank you all for your hard work and innovation!
  • We have added Patient Discharge Instructions, Return to Work Letters, and Provider Scripts for delivering COVID-19 test results to the Clinical Resource Library, and hope to add these to the eCW COVID-19 order set in the near future. Please continue to email Nicole Davis (nvdavis@unityhealthcare.org) with suggestions for additional resources to include on the Microsoft Sharepoint site.  
  • For any homeless patient who screens positive, please contact the DHS Hotline for COVID Isolation at (202) 671-3076. DHS will arrange for transportation to a facility where the patients will be tested, quarantined, and monitored until results return.  
  • Instant Message with Your Team: Did you know that Microsoft Teams (available through Office 365) allows you to instant message your teammates? You can create group chats or have one-on-one conversations instantly on your computer or your phone. Microsoft Teams is a quick and easy way to connect with your staff in an instant, and it only takes a minute to download. Click here for an introduction to Microsoft Teams. Click here to download the application. 
  • Last evening at the Board meeting, Chairman Fed Cooke conveyed to Vince and the leadership team a desire to express the Board’s deep appreciation for the great work Unity staff is doing in the midst of COVID-19. An official resolution of support was passed with particular recognition for health care personnel who are treating our patients during this challenging time.
  • As we continue to respond to the demands of the coronavirus, many of our health centers will be modifying their hours of operation. Below are the hours of operation as of 6 p.m. on March 26, but please note, these times are subject to change as our response to the coronavirus continues to evolve.

Health Centers Status 3-26-2020

  • Share our social media posts with the public! Unity has been using our social media channels to keep our patients and partners up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 information. Click these links to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and share our posts with others in the community.

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

IMPORTANT UPDATES

We’re halfway through the week!

Wednesday Reminder: Have you identified a suspected case of COVID-19 or possible employee exposure? Call Unity’s Infection Control for Coronavirus number at (202) 715-6592.

  • Outdoor rapid evaluation of patients with respiratory symptoms will be starting this week. Thank you to our pilot teams at Anacostia for conducting walk throughs today, and for their flexibility as we continue to refine this process to quickly identify sick patients and direct them to designated wait areas to reduce the risk of exposure for our staff and patients.
  • Supplies at the health centers are being replenished. We’ve identified encouraging leads to assist in the restocking of supplies. Please continue to be judicious and responsible in your use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Additionally, we are investigating ways to get additional and enhanced testing capability, including point of care testing.
  • As we continue to respond to the demands of the coronavirus, many of our health centers will be modifying their hours of operation. Below are the hours of operation as of 6 p.m. on March 25, but please note, these times are subject to change as our response to the coronavirus continues to evolve.

HealthCenterStatusGraphic (2) (1)

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

IMPORTANT UPDATES  

  • Remember, telehealth is now available! Patients will now have access to their Unity provider via video or telephone calls. This is an incredible asset as we continue to offer medical and behavioral health services for our patients, while supporting the financial health of our organization as we navigate the challenges of COVID-19.  
  • As mentioned in the March 23 Daily Digest email, we are in the process of setting up outdoor rapid screening environments at our COVID-19 evaluation sites. This set-up will help us quickly identify sick patients and direct them to designated wait areas. Outdoor screening environments will improve ventilation and reduce the risk of exposure for our staff and patients. Anacostia and Upper Cardozo Health Centers will pilot these new screening environments this week.
  • Beginning Wednesday, March 25, several sites will have modified hours of operation, as seen below, to help reduce the use of critical supplies and preserve the demands of our workforce. These hours may be updated as our response continues to evolve. 

Infographic health centers

  • We are committed to the safety of all of our staff. For staff who are elderly, pregnant, or have high risk medical conditions including asthma, we strongly recommend these employees work with their supervisor to limit direct or prolonged contact with COVID-19 patients and that all efforts be made for them to telework when possible. If telework is not possible, these staff could be assigned to a well clinic site, with safety precautions such as wearing a mask and using excellent hand hygiene.
  • As a reminder, if you have a suspected case of COVID-19 or possible employee exposure, please call our infection control number at (202) 715-6592.
  • Update on WIC services: While WIC offices are no longer seeing clients in person, WIC staff will be on-site at Anacostia, East of the River, and Upper Cardozo to continue with WIC operations. The Parkside WIC phone has been redirected to the Upper Cardozo WIC office.
  • Clarification on daycare services for healthcare workers: We have been made aware that the daycare services are not free but will be offered at a reduce cost. If you completed the survey, you will be contacted shortly.

 

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • We have a new visitor policy: Only one visitor per patient will be allowed at appointments. This new policy is another measure to help keep our patients and staff healthy.  
  • If you are looking for community resources for patients, visit unityhealthcare.org/coronavirus. The list will be continuously updated as we get more information.
  • We have a new visitor policy: Only one visitor per patient will be allowed at appointments. This new policy is another measure to help keep our patients and staff healthy.  

Monday, March 23, 2020

We hope you all enjoyed the lunch that was provided today at the health centers. We appreciate all the work you’re doing as we navigate through this time. Lunch for Unity staff at DOC is coming later this week.

Need Childcare? DCPCA has coordinated free childcare in partnership with community partners for healthcare workers. If you are in need of childcare, please complete this form by 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 24.

PLEASE NOTE: It is mandatory to notify your manager if you’re experiencing symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness breath, recently traveled or have been exposed to a confirmed case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) immediately to help ensure the safety of our staff and patients.

IMPORTANT UPDATES

  • Telehealth is here! Our telehealth program is officially up and running. This program is critical as we continue to meet our patients’ needs and sustain our organization during this time. Dr. Andy Robie and administrative leadership will be providing further guidance to staff. Everyone at our health centers can play a vital role in making this initiative a success. 
  • Our designated COVID-19 evaluation sites – Minnesota Avenue, Parkside, and Upper Cardozo – did a great job evaluating patients last week. As the situation continues to evolve, we appreciate everyone’s flexibility and teamwork while we work to meet the needs of our patients and community.
  • We are exploring options for rapid screening and evaluation of patients prior to entering our COVID-19 evaluation sites to help us identify sick patients more efficiently. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.
  • It is mandatory to notify your manager if you are sick, have recently traveled, or have been exposed to a confirmed case of the coronavirus, immediately to help ensure the safety of our staff and patients. You must also notify Unity’s Infection Control for Coronavirus Nurse at (202) 715-6592 if you are showing symptoms of fever (measured temperature >38.0 degrees Celsius or subjective fever), respiratory illness, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat.
  • We have updated guidance on employee exposure and testing in accordance with DC Health. Any staff member can be tested at Unity if there has been prolonged, direct contact with a confirmed positive patient. Providers, nurses, or MAs who have symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath may also be evaluated and tested. Hannah George, Team Lead for Infection Control for Coronavirus will lead the charge on following up on employee exposure to ensure staff receive evaluation and guidance.
  • Thank you for your diligent use of PPE. We are doing everything we can to get additional supplies, but our supplies of surgical masks, gowns, and face shields remain limited. We are recommending providers and EVS alter workflows to preserve PPE by remaining doffed for multiple patients evaluated or multiple rooms cleaned. Click here for guidance from CDC. For staff who have chosen to wear surgical masks outside of direct patient care, these are in short supply, please use the same mask throughout the day so we can preserve our supply for sick patients which is the best way to reduce spread.
    • To further preserve our vital supplies, please DO NOT double up on masks or face shields, as it does not reduce the risk of exposure and will limit the availability of supplies for our staff.

  • Effective March 23, WIC is no longer seeing clients in person. WIC will complete new and subsequent certifications over the phone and will send WIC vouchers by mail. Anyone with a scheduled check pickup or medical update appointment will receive their WIC checks by mail. Participants are encouraged to call the WIC clinics to verify their address for mailing. Contact Paige Zaitlin at PZaitlin@UnityHealthCare.org for more information.

  • If you are looking for community resources for patients, visit www.unityhealthcare.org/coronavirus. The list will be continuously updated as we get more information. 

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • We have a new visitor policy: Only one visitor per patient will be allowed at appointments. This new policy is another measure to help keep our patients and staff healthy.  

Friday, March 20, 2020

We made it through the week! As a token of appreciation for all the great work happening across our health centers, lunch will be provided to health center staff on Monday! Enjoy!

Need Childcare? DCPCA has coordinated free childcare in partnership with community partners for healthcare workers. If you are in need of childcare, please complete this form by 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 24.

Special Thanks: Shout out to the dental staff for stepping up and assisting with screenings at the health centers during this time when we needed to reschedule dental visits!

IMPORTANT UPDATES

  • Thank you to the providers piloting telehealth visits with our patients! Going forward, telehealth audio and telehealth video will be offered, and telehealth audio visits with appropriate documentation will be eligible for billing. More information will be shared early next week as we continue to pilot this option!
  • Our nursing leadership team has been working hard to get supplies into health centers.
  • We’ve received notification of updated guidance for cleaning exam rooms between patients being evaluated for the coronavirus. The new guidance will help reduce the use of PPE for staff and allow rooms to be turned quickly between patients.
  • Please note our updated visitor policy: Only one visitor per patient will be allowed at appointments. This new policy is another measure to help keep our patients and staff healthy.
  • As we head into the weekend, for all suspected COVID-19 patients, please continue to call the Unity Infection Control Nurse at (202) 715-6592. To enhance our data collection and protect our staff and communities, we are rolling out this new COVID-19 Data Entry and Tracking form. Effective today, it is no longer necessary to contact DC Health for every suspected COVID-19 patient, unless there are questions about disposition, if transportation is needed from the health center, or if assistance is needed finding accommodations for patients who are not able to self-quarantine (such as homeless patients). We are modifying the COVID-19 patient screening form and evaluation tools to include this information, which we will send early next week.
  • We take your safety seriously! Hannah George will serve as team lead for COVID-19 Infection Control. She will lead the charge on following up on employee exposure to ensure staff receives the evaluation and guidance they need.

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • It is mandatory to notify your manager if you’re experiencing symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness breath, recently traveled or have been exposed to a confirmed case of the coronavirus (COVID-19) immediately to help ensure the safety of our staff and patients.
  • Click here to review the full Employee Contributions Helping Others (ECHO) universal leave donation policy.
    • Click here to donate leave.
    • Click here to request leave.
    • Here’s a helpful chart comparing the symptoms between the coronavirus, influenza, and seasonal allergies. The Communications department has distributed printed color copies to Health Center Directors at all Unity sites.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

LATEST UPDATES 

  • We offer sincere thanks to our Environmental Services team for keeping our sites clean and safe for patients and providers. You may have noticed that while cleaning, our EVS team has been wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This is in alignment with the latest guidelines to protect our EVS staff as they work to create safe working environments for frontline staff.
  • We’ve added a new COVID-19 Order Set in eCW, with links to great patient education resources in multiple languages. In the coming days, we will add more options in the lab and medication/prescription fields. Thank you to the HIT team for their work on this!
  • Please note that there is a new visitor policy, effective immediately. For the safety of our patients and staff, only one person may accompany a patient at their appointment.
  • On March 18, DC Health released guidance for hospitals in regards to limiting elective services. We have verified that recommendations were not intended to apply to our daily operations. Unity’s network of community health centers is widely recognized to be a critical part of the public health infrastructure in DC. Our goal is to continue to be accessible to patients in our community for their health care needs – chronic, urgent, and preventive – during this difficult time while offering alternative care delivery models to decompress our health centers and protect vulnerable patients. To that end, we are excited to launch a telemedicine pilot tomorrow with a small group of patients, with plans to roll out more broadly next week. We also learned the great news today that telephone services will likely be covered as well! More details and guidance to follow soon.

 

TELEWORK POLICY

Effective Monday, March 23, non-essential staff will begin to work remotely until further notice. All business functions will continue as usual to meet the needs of the organization, our health centers, and patients. Systems have been set up so that staff can continue to be contacted via the normal channels i.e. phone and email. As a reminder, if you need assistance from a member of the EEE team, contact (202) 715-6569. For IT support, call (202) 299-1700 or email ITSupport@unityhealthcare.org.

 

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

We’re almost at the end of the week! Thank you to everyone who is stepping and helping Unity face these new challenges head on. By continuing to follow policies and guidelines related to the coronavirus, we can all play a part in reducing the spread of the virus.

Did you see yesterday’s tips for reducing stress and anxiety? If not, check them out here! All of our Coronavirus Daily Digest emails are also available online at unityhealthcare.org/coronavirus/updates.

As a reminder, due to patient privacy and HIPAA concerns, please do not share any information related to patient interactions on social media or other public outlets.

IMPORTANT UPDATES

  • As a reminder, patients going through the patient scheduling center or the triage nurses can be routed to our COVID-19 evaluation sites. Other health centers will continue to screen, evaluate, and test as needed for walk-in patients. Click here to access the latest Patient Screening Form. 
  • Additional test kits have arrived and deliveries have been scheduled on an ongoing basis. Please note that masks, thermoscanners, and forehead thermometer probes are on back order. Sites will be notified once these supplies are available.
  • We are preparing to move forward with Unity providers offering telemedicine visits to patients. We are currently conducting a pilot with a few providers so we can support our sickest patients while reducing exposure to the coronavirus with plans to expand more broadly. More guidance can be expected by the end of the week.

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • &Pizza, Rasa, and SweetGreen have special offers for healthcare workers, including free pizza, free delivery and more! Click here for a full list of food resources and perks.
  • Staff that are exhibiting symptoms or may have been exposed to the coronavirus should contact their medical provider for evaluation and possible testing. We recommend employees that are feeling sick contact their supervisor and stay home from work. Guidelines for employee exposure are available in the Coronavirus Emergency Response Plan.
  • Here’s a helpful chart comparing the symptoms between the coronavirus, influenza, and seasonal allergies. Please alert the Communications department if you would like color copies printed and distributed at your site!  
  • Here’s an updated list of locations for DCPS students to receive free meals.
  • Keep yourself healthy by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoiding handshakes. Offer an elbow to say hello instead! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

As we continue to learn more about the coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s vitally important to share updates in real-time. Please take a moment to read the Coronavirus Daily Digest via email or get the latest information on our preparedness and response to the coronavirus online at unityhealthcare.org/coronavirus/updates. Ask your team if they’ve read the latest update. The more we stay up-to-date on the latest reliable information, the better we can work as a team to protect ourselves and our patients.

With the ever-changing environment we want to continue to ask you to take care of yourself. To help manage stress and anxiety, try avoiding information overload and limiting "exposure" to coronavirus information in the hours before bedtime. Click here to get more tips! Special thank you to Jennifer Pauk, Director of Behavioral Health, for putting these tips together.

NOTE FROM THE CEO

Executive management are in the process of constructing a comprehensive telework plan for non-essential staff that will allow us to continue to support the staff in our health centers.

As we complete our telework plan, please continue to take precautions to practice social distancing and limit exposure in alignment with CDC guidelines. Avoid crowds over 10 people when possible, and limit your time in shared public spaces.

Also, we heard your questions and concerns surrounding leave. The Employee Engagement and Experience team will implement a new leave donation program called Employee Contributions Helping Others (ECHO) to assist our employees during a time of need.

This voluntary program will allow employees to donate hours to a universal leave bank to be used by other employees when they are in need of additional leave. The executive leadership team will be the first group to donate to the bank so hours are immediately available for use. We are finalizing the ECHO policy and will make it available to all staff tomorrow.

Additionally, in order to respond to the ongoing unprecedented emergency, starting today any new requests for scheduled personal or vacation leave will not be approved through the end of April. Any current scheduled leave will be honored. However, if this request included out-of-region travel (DC, MD, VA) you must inform your supervisor or manager immediately. 

If you need to take leave related to COVID-19 for yourself or a family member, please coordinate with your supervisor and use the following codes in ADP: COVID19 Personal, COVID19 Sick, and COVID 19 Vacation. This will ensure that the sick bank will be charged accordingly.

We thank you for understanding and accommodating these requests at this time and we will continually revisit this as the situation evolves.

IMPORTANT UPDATES

  • Our designated Coronavirus (COVID-19) Evaluation Sites will officially begin tomorrow! What does this mean? Minnesota Avenue, Parkside, and Upper Cardozo Health Centers will serve as the primary evaluation sites for patients identified through the patient scheduling center screening process.
    • Sites will call and screen previously scheduled patients. Sick patients will be redirected to an appropriate site.
    • For those working outside of our designated COVID-19 evaluation sites, please remember that patients may walk in, and it’s critical to remain on top of screenings, as some may meet testing criteria. Click here to access the latest Patient Screening Form. 
  • Reminder for Testing Kit Collection: Please refer to the latest guidance from LabCorp on collecting specimens. You only need to conduct a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab using the swab with the orange top. Additional testing kits are expected to arrive at our sites today, and regular shipments are expected to continue.
  • All non-emergent dental procedures will be suspended for the next three weeks per the American Dental Association recommendations. Emergency dental services and screenings will be available at DOC. Community patients with dental emergencies will be seen at our Upper Cardozo and Parkside health centers.
  • CenteringPregnancy visits are suspended until April 20. Regular prenatal visits will continue as patient/provider visits. It is highly recommended that other group visits be rescheduled or postponed as soon as possible.
  • A. T. Still University students will not be practicing in Unity health centers for the next six weeks. Other external students should follow the guidelines set forth by their institution.
  • Environmental services will continue to provide terminal cleaning at the health centers this week. Support is being contracted to assist them with additional deep cleaning as the needs continue to increase.

Staff that are exhibiting symptoms or may have been exposed to Coronavirus should contact their medical provider for evaluation and possible testing. We recommend employees that are feeling sick contact their supervisor and stay home from work. Guidelines for employee exposure are available in the Coronavirus Emergency Response Plan

REMINDERS AND RESOURCES

  • Due to patient privacy and HIPAA concerns, please do not share any information related to patient interactions on social media or other public outlets.
  • Here’s a helpful chart comparing the symptoms between the coronavirus, influenza, and seasonal allergies. Please alert the Communications department if you would like color copies printed and distributed at your site!  
  • Here’s an updated list of locations for DCPS students to receive free meals.

Monday, March 16, 2020

 

As we adjust to the changing environment regarding the coronavirus, we want to say THANK YOU! While we expect rapid updates as we continue to learn more, we applaud your leadership and eagerness to keep our patients and community safe.

 

Today, we want to share a special Thank You to our Department of Corrections and Healthcare for the Homeless leadership - Vali Zabiheian, Dr. Eleni O’Donovan, Dr. Janelle Goetcheus, Dr. Anne Cardile, and Dr. Catherine Crosland - and their teams for working tirelessly through the weekend to develop plans to care for our most vulnerable populations.

 

Our primary goal is to continue to see as many patients in need of care as possible and evaluate those experiencing moderate symptoms. This will require continued flexibility and collaboration from staff to ensure we are maintaining a safe environment while serving our patients.

 

NOTE FROM THE CEO:

During this challenging time, not only should we be cautious about our own self-care, following closely all CDC guidelines for personal hygiene, etc., but we should also make every effort to limit fear and panic. To ensure clear and consistent messages are being relayed to our workforce, the only staff authorized to send emails to the ALL STAFF email group are the Communications Department and members of the Executive Management Team. If you have information to share please do so first with your supervisor, who can then raise the matter addressed to the appropriate person.

 

During this time, it is vital not to add to the understandable uneasiness in our communities. This includes sharing medical information with unauthorized parties that may violate HIPPA or expose Unity to unnecessary liability.

 

IMPORTANT UPDATES:

  • Unity guidance on the coronavirus has been integrated into our Coronavirus Emergency Response Policy, which is now available. Please take the time to review the policy. Also included are self-quarantine guidelines for staff and personnel. Current guidance asks individuals to self-quarantine if they are experiencing a fever, have travelled to a location where community transmission of the coronavirus is occurring, or have had direct contact with someone with a confirmed case of the coronavirus.
  • Click here to review the most up-to-date patient screening form for use on all patients calling or entering our health centers and other locations.
  • Please keep in mind that brief interactions (2-3 minutes), providing masks to patients with symptoms, and hand hygiene are very important to preventing transmission.
  • Due to capacity and size of our smaller sites, we have temporarily closed Columbia Road Health Services and are limiting visits to scheduled patients for Southwest and Stanton Road Health Centers. Some of the homeless outreach sites have closed, but several will be open to serve those who are experiencing homelessness. Many shelters will be open 24/7 starting today.
  • We are planning to have three sites (Minnesota Avenue, Parkside, and Upper Cardozo) serve as our primary locations for coronavirus evaluations. Patients displaying respiratory illness or symptoms screened through the patient scheduling center will be routed to these sites. More information is forthcoming.
  • We are working hard to get additional supplies, such as masks and other Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), for our frontline staff and patients in need. Please continue to prioritize the use of supplies for those presenting the highest clinical suspicion for the coronavirus.
  • We are exploring alternative care options for our patients, including telehealth and rapid screening environments. We are grateful to Dr. Andy Robie; Daniel Baker, NP; and Jen Hathorne for stepping up to explore these options!
  • As the situation with the coronavirus continues to develop in our region, Unity leadership is working to respond to the needs of our staff. A comprehensive telework and leave policy will be shared with all staff on Tuesday, March 17.

 

REMINDERS:

  • Self-care is vital! If you are not feeling well, please stay home, call your medical provider, and notify your supervisor. Also, if you have been exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus, notify your supervisor immediately.
  • Due to patient privacy and HIPAA concerns, please do not share any information related to patient interactions or Unity operations on social media or other public outlets.

 

RESOURCES:

  • Here’s a helpful chart on comparing the symptoms between the coronavirus, influenza, and seasonal allergies. Please alert the Communications Department if you would like color copies printed and distributed at your site!
  • Here’s an updated list of locations for DCPS students to receive free meals.


Friday, March 13, 2020

We are incredibly thankful for everyone’s hard work this past week as we adapt to the rapidly evolving nature of the coronavirus. As we continue to learn more, an internal Coronavirus Daily Digest will be shared to inform all Unity staff of any status updates and processes being developed as we respond to the coronavirus. Our first priority is to be here for our patients to meet their health needs. As such, we are encouraging our patients to stay home if they have mild symptoms and/or do not need medical attention. As health professionals, our daily work is currently focused on doing what we can to #FlattenTheCurve.

 

Additionally, we’re doing everything we can to create a safe working environment for our dedicated staff!

 

We’ve included this presentation about the coronavirus for you to review to learn about the current situation in the US. All updates and resources shared in our Coronavirus Daily Digest emails will also be available on the Unity website at unityhealthcare.org/coronavirus/updates beginning Monday, March 16.

 

Important Updates

  • While we’re still learning about coronavirus, the most common symptom is fever, followed by coughing and shortness of breath.
  • We’ve started testing for coronavirus at our sites! Due to the number of kits available, tests will be prioritized for patients based on high clinical suspicion.
  • We have added a one-liner “COVID-19 screen negative” or “COVID-19 screen positive” to eCW and are asking staff who screen patients to choose one of these options in the eCW “Reason for Visit” drop-down list. Click here to review the latest Patient Screening Form (as of 3/13/2020). 
  • Due to the closure of DC public schools, school-based staff will be notified of reassignments on Monday, March 16.
  • Due to the limited space available in the waiting rooms at our Stanton Road and Columbia Road Health Services health centers, we will temporarily close to patients, effective Monday, March 16.
  • As of Monday, March 16, Southwest Health Center will be open during regular business hours, but will be working to restrict sick patients and walk-ins.
  • As we care for our patients, we also want to care for our teammates. Please be mindful to reduce exposure for your colleagues who are older or those who have health conditions that make them more vulnerable to infection.
  • We have elevated cleaning procedures at our sites to assist in limiting the spread of infection.
  • We are relaxing the dress policy for providers during this time. Providers may wear scrubs for ease of cleaning and reduce exposure.

Reminders

Keep yourself healthy with these hand hygiene tips!

 

Resources to Download

Comparison Chart of Symptoms