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Coronavirus Updates for Staff

Thank you all for your understanding and patience as we work through this unprecedented event. We strive to keep you as up to date as possible with all changes that PHS is making in response to the constant changes that are happening in our communities. We recognize that staff may have personal circumstances that keep them for working in the office. As described further, where possible, your manager will work with you to make work from home arrangements. Where that is not feasible, please be assured that you will not go without pay. We will work with individuals to ensure that everyone remains whole throughout these unforeseen circumstances. We know that many schools and childcare programs have already begun closures and expect that many of our employees will be impacted. For those of you not impacted, please report for work as you normally would so that we can do our very, very best to take care of our customers while we implement contingency plans and work from home arrangements.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, your manager, or Sara Burley. As well, we will host virtual town hall meetings starting later this week to facilitate communication and answer questions. In advance, thank you for supporting our patients, families, and one another. We are a village.

PHS will remain alert to changes in our local communities and across the country.  We encourage you to stay informed as well to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe and healthy.  Visit the CDC or WHO for more information.

Be well, and wash your hands.


What we are asking of you

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.  If a tissue is not available coughing or sneezing into the crook of your arm is recommended.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Try to keep a distance of 6 feet away from people who are coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for at least 20 seconds (sing the Happy Birthday song twice).
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and often used or shared surfaces (conference room tables, keyboards, phones, door handles, copier keypads, etc.) with regular household cleaning spray or wipe.  Cleaning supplies will be provided.
  • Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) according to protocol.
  • Report any recent or upcoming travel by air or cruise, for you personally or a household member. Stay up to date on travel guidelines here:
  • All employees are required to self-report upon a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, or close exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosed person.
  • If you are a person at higher risk (elderly adults, immune-compromised individuals, or people with serious chronic medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease), PHS will work with you on accommodations and precautions. Please consult your supervisor.
  • Be prepared to secure your building, including arming the security system, when working outside of normal business hours of 8:00 – 5:00. Instructions for arming the security system are posted at all keypads in the Roseville office.

Work Environment

We know this will be an evolving situation; we are collaborating with community partners and experts and will continue to update all of you.  Please be assured that we will do everything we can to take care of one another. PHS is establishing alternative work schedules and work from home arrangements where and when possible.

PHS will ask employees to self-quarantine, and not allow employees to report for work in the office or in a patient home, if the employee:

    • Is returning from travel to a “Level 3 Travel Health Notice” country or other high risk travel according to CDC guidelines, or
    • Has been exposed to a person with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis

We will work with employees on an individual basis to determine if working from home is feasible during the quarantine period and assuming the employee is well. If the employee is not able to work from home, PHS will work with the individual to ensure that the employee does not go without pay during the quarantine period.

PHS is instituting measures to limit contact and exposure, including:

    • All non-essential work related travel, such as conferences, is canceled.
    • All meetings or training, whether with internal or external people, will be conducted virtually. Should a meeting require face-to-face interaction, use conference spaces that will allow for ample spacing between participants.
    • Visitors to offices will be largely limited. Doors will be locked with signage posted instructing visitors to contact front desk staff. Curb-side pick up will be used for all customer pick ups.
    • In Roseville, simulation lab instruction and education classes are canceled and will be conducted virtually if possible, with the exception of Home Care Nursing (HCN) orientation, portions of HCN Annual Competencies, and education that is essential to patient care with outside agencies.
    • Extra cleaning measures have already been instituted by our janitorial staff.  If you have any requests, please don’t hesitate to contact the staff or submit a Facilities Help Ticket by email.
    • “Proof of delivery” signatures no longer required when an employee makes a delivery to a patient home or when a customer picks up a delivery from our office.

Employee risk assessment protocols

In order to best protect our fellow coworkers and patients, we are puting into place an assessment that will be completed by managers and/or designated employees in each department. This assessment will allow for tracking of symptoms and consistent application of state and CDC recommendations in terms of availability to work.

Access the form here

The COVID risk protocol chart will gives guidance on how to proceed in each unqiue circumnstance. See image for details when working through next steps with each employee.

Additional Resources




Working in the Office

For those of you who are working in the office, please continue to maintain your personal work spaces with the sanitizing products available, cleaning minimally at the start of each shift. As well, continue to maintain personal distance from others of at least 6 feet as much as possible. Everyone is also welcome to dress casually every day consistent with our “Casual Friday” dress code policy.

Cloth masks for office employees. If you are interested in using a cloth mask while in the office, please complete the following form. Please note, masks must be washed daily in hot water with regular detergent and dried fully on a high temperature setting. This will be the responsibility of the employee.

Cloth mask form

Working from Home

PHS has implemented work from home arrangements to the furthest extent possible to reduce exposure while ensuring that we can continue to provide care and service to our customers.  This means that some departments need to have a staff available in the office to answer incoming calls, support internal customers, and be available to make home visits. We are also extending first priority to our employees that are either personally at “high risk” or have a household member that is at “high risk” according to CDC guidelines for COVID-19.

We expect WFH arrangements to be temporary and understand that ideal productivity may be impacted based on a scaled back home set-up. Requests for second monitors or additional equipment for home use may be considered if WFH arrangements are extended, but they are not requests we can fulfill at this time. We ask that you do not remove PHS-issued IT equipment from your office workstations. Please also be aware that we are working with a limited number of Citrix licenses and ask that you exit Citrix when not in use.

When working at home, do your best to work as effectively and efficiently as possible and to minimize distractions. You should be as accessible and responsive as you would be in the office. To ensure security, lock your computer when it is unattended. As well, if you are using a personal computer, do not download files from Office 365.

PHS has a limited number of phone lines that can be used at any one time. If you are redirecting calls via twinning or forwarding, please greet the caller and ask to call them back. By doing this, we will free up the phone lines open to reach the office.

Additional resources that may be helpful to you include the “Work from Home” section of the Employee Handbook (M-Files 159) and the Information Security Policy (M-Files 5198).

Tips for WFH from IT:

  • Do not leave your home computer unattended when connected to work resources. You must lock or log off from your home system if you step away from it.
  • Do not download files from Office 365 to your home computer. Replying to emails and working on files within the web browser is acceptable.

Emergency Child Care

States have recently announced that emergency childcare would be available for healthcare workers who required it to perform their jobs. As a vital healthcare provider, Pediatric Home Service and its partner company employees falls into this category.

We have prepared a letter that confirms your employment with PHS for use in obtaining emergency childcare if it becomes necessary. You can find it here: Emergency Childcare Letter for Employees

Employees Returning from Travel

We understand that many employees are concerned about coworkers who have traveled coming back to work without some type of quarantine before they return to work. We are deeply concerned about the safety of our employees and our patient population and are diligently monitoring up to date information coming from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the Minnesota Department of Health, and will follow the agencies’ guidelines for quarantine. At this time, we are not placing people on quarantine simply because they traveled. We will respond to those who have had direct contact with a confirmed case or someone who has a test pending. Anyone who has a fever, cough, and chest pain should be staying home and contacting their doctor by phone.

People who have no symptoms and no known contact with an infected person will be allowed to work. If our families have requests to restrict traveling employees from their home, they are within their rights and we will honor their request. If you are worried that a coworker without symptoms or contact with a confirmed case might infect you, please consider requesting PTO from your immediate supervisor.

Essential employees letter for travel

As more and more cities are handed down the shelter in place order. We have created a letter that our staff can use when they need to be out and about for work-related activities. Please download this PDF, enter your name and save the document for yourself. Either emailing it to yourself or printing out a hard copy to keep in your vehicle.

Essential Employee Letter

Communication plans with families and referrals

Here is a summary of the pieces we have pulled together and are already published, or that will be published in the coming week.

    • Website:  Currently live
      • Is being updated to include page is being updated to include the steps we’re taking to limit social interaction.
      • Also updating banner on the home page with a link to the coronavirus page.
    • Online ordering banner (PHS Roseville and Milwaukee):  Starting early this week, a message will display describing the visitor restrictions and curbside pick up.
    • On hold message:  Starting early this week, we will use the recorded message to describe our efforts and protocols related to coronavirus.
    • Social Media:
      • Facebook:  We are currently running boosted posts on PHS, TCG and RSVP Facebook pages to describe our efforts and protocols related to coronavirus, with a new post going live on Monday related to limiting interactions.
      • Twitter – will be sharing bite sizes sentences about the measures that we’re taking that link back to the website.
    • Email blasts:  We have email templates built for the communications to health care professionals and patients.
    • Printed letter:  Tailored to each location, letters to health care professionals and consumers describe our efforts to minimize supply disruption, our efforts to minimize exposure of our staff, and our protocol should a PHS employee that has direct contact with patients or families test positive for COVID-19.
    • Exterior signage:  New signs, with respective branding, will be displayed at the front door of each location explaining the locked doors and instructions to gain access for supply pick-up.


Free COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

PHS has opted-in to cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing at 100% for anyone enrolled in one of the PHS healthcare plans. However, any necessary treatment would be covered according to existing terms and conditions of the plan. For those not on our health plan, most other health plans are providing similar benefits.
Effective March 14, 2020 for the next 30-days, BCBS is also providing to its members at no cost (low cost for those who are not enrolled) the “dr+ on demand” telemedicine screening for COVID-19. We have been informed that employees could experience extended wait times. “98Point6” is another telemedicine assessment option for employees enrolled in our health plan. Temporarily, PHS is waiving the $5 fee.

Pandemic Pay Program

PHS wishes to support our employees with a new program designed in response to the broad reach of COVID-19. The pandemic pay program provides up to 120 hours of pay when the employee is unable to work:
    • In the office or remotely,
    • During normal business hours or at any other time,
    • With or without accommodation,
    • With or without children at home,
and the employee is impacted by COVID-19 due to any of the following circumstances:
    • Confirmed diagnosis,
    • Under quarantine,
    • Providing care to own child due to school or child care closure.

Updates to PTO

The program also includes enhancements to our PTO policies to help employees utilize and preserve their PTO, including:
    • Eliminate the current 40-hour/pay period minimum of paid hours for accrual of PTO for office employees. It is already eliminated for our field staff. PTO would accrue solely based on the number of hours paid.
    • Include disability hours in the calculation for accrual of PTO. Employees will now accrue PTO during periods of disability when not being paid by PHS (disability benefist are paid directly by the insurance carrier to the employee).
    • Eliminate the 90-day waiting period before an employee may use their accrued PTO.
    • Allow to draw on a negative balance up to 40 hours in pandemic situations.
As you can imagine, the details of the program are quite intricate and illustrated here in both a table and flowchart format (depending on how your brain works). We will also include these on the staff webpage.
If you are impacted by COVID-19 and unable to work, please speak with your manager or HR to trigger this benefit. Just like all things, this program is designed based on the information we have today. We will absolutely continue to consider the unique circumstances each of us are facing as we understand more about the long term impacts of coronavirus and the efforts to slow its spread.

Pandemic Pay Policy Table

pandemic pay policy flowchart

Pandemic Pay Policy Flowchart

Virus Information

Officially it is a virus called coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which was first reported from Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019.  Technically, it is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).  Information and recommendations change almost daily with COVID-19. This virus is very contagious and is spreading rapidly. The measures that PHS and other companies are taking are intended to slow the spread. It is important to the community at large that we do our best to reduce the likelihood of passing on the virus to others. These are PHS’ current recommendations; we will continue to update you as they evolve.


The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are symptomatic.  Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

It may be possible that person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community and precautions are recommended.


Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease.  The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath

If you are experiencing mild symptoms you may consider the self-assessment listed below and/or a telemedicine assessment.  If in doubt or if you are experiencing more severe symptoms, consult with a healthcare professional or take emergency action if appropriate. If you are questioning your own health status the following free assessment and recommendations from “Dr on Demand” listed below is a good place to start.  Employees enrolled in the PHS health plan also have the “98Point6” telemedicine option for a more personalized assessment.  Most other employees should have an alternate telemedicine option available through their own health plan.  These and other resources are available in UltiPro in the Employee News section on the home page.  Of course, calling or making an appointment with your medical provider is always advisable.

COVID-19 Self-Assessment


Early information shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:

    • Older adults
    • People with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease
    • Immune-compromised individuals

For further information and resources pertaining to coronavirus:

Additional Resources