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FAQs

FAQs

What are the Current Masking Guidelines?

Newly updated national mask guidelines were released on 5/1/20, based on the expert consensus of the Kaiser Permanente Inter-Regional Infectious Disease leaders. The guidelines continue to be based on droplet precautions. The coronavirus is generally transmitted when someone touches surfaces onto which infected people have dispersed their droplets through their touch, coughs, or sneezes. The guidelines contain 5 mask categories: N95 Masks or PAPR/CAPR; Surgical Masks; Isolation/Procedure Masks; KP-issued “Cover Your Cough Masks; and Personal Masks from home (for patients and visitors).  For more details, see the attached chart.

Antibody Testing – What’s the Latest?

Access to reliable antibody tests regarding immune status and making these tests available to a large number of Americans is a high priority for Kaiser Permanente and the nation. Many companies are working to develop and provide antibody tests and are moving through the Federal Drug Administrative (FDA) review process.  Several have already been approved by the FDA through its expedited emergency review process.

Production of approved tests is increasing rapidly and availability should improve over the coming weeks.  However, there are still questions about the accuracy and validity of the antibody tests, how they should be used and how results should be interpreted. Because these tests are in the early stages of review, there is a reasonable concern regarding false positive test results and misinterpretation of information by the general public. Inaccurate diagnoses during a pandemic can impair prevention efforts and delay appropriate treatment for sick patients.

We will continue to follow the guidance of Federal and State medical and public health experts, in addition to our own infectious disease medical experts. We are making every effort to develop the capacity to provide the tests to members, where appropriate, as soon as fully vetted and approved tests are available. (Updated 4/27/20)

Can pets get COVID-19?

Based on limited information, the CDC says the coronavirus can spread from people to animals in some situations, but it’s unlikely. They are aware of a small number of pets, including cats and dogs, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. As for the other direction (animals spreading COVID-19 to people), the risk is considered to be low. What to do?  Treat pets as you would other human family members – no interaction with people or animals outside the household. If a household member becomes sick, isolate them from everyone else, including pets. Source: CDC.

What are the recommended masking guidelines away from work?

The Centers for Disease Control recommend wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. CDC also advises using cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus by people who may unknowingly have the virus. Most Southern California counties require cloth face masks when in public.

What is KP doing to help frontline employees cope with pressures brought by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Kaiser Permanente recognizes many of the people of KP are facing significant, unprecedented challenges at work while managing sudden and traumatic changes in daily and family lives. Therefore, we are implementing temporary benefits and pay programs to assist them in caring for themselves and their families.

These temporary COVID-19-related benefits were developed in consultation with labor leaders and will be available to physicians and employees actively working in patient care environments. Part-time employees and per diem employees who work at least 20 hours per week are also eligible. Benefits include:

  • Additional paid time off if you need to be away from work because you have tested positive for COVID-19
  • Childcare grants for your school-age children or dependent disabled adult children while you are at work.
  • Short-term housing near our medical centers and specialty hubs for certain situations.

For details, eligibility, and other information visit My HR or Here4You. Physicians will access these benefits through Permanente Human Resources Shared Services.

How do I protect myself and my family?

  • Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick by staying home as much as possible and maintaining 6’ distance between yourself and other people.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover and time you must leave home.
  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, remote controls, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

What is KP doing to make sure staff have proper PPE and supplies to take care of our members and protect the employees themselves?

Since the start of our planning to respond to the coronavirus outbreak our Buy-to-Pay team has undertaken a gigantic task of sourcing very scare materials to meet the demands of a totally unheard-of disease that we have no immunity against. In addition to our normal supply chain sources, they have undertaken steps to find and establish new relationships with clinically-approved new sources of supplies; and chartered aircraft to go to Europe and Asia to restock our materials. We also have engaged in some ingenious tactics to PPE supplies from unconventional sources. This includes donations from various private sources, and even P-card shopping at hardware stores to find goggles and face masks. We were very pleased to learn that Southern California Region will receive 770 new ventilators within the next few weeks as part of a massive enterprise-wide purchase of this equipment.

Recently, UHW donated 700 masks to KP and we know our SEIU UHW partner is actively working with other businesses they are part of to encourage and help them immediately switch from whatever they normally manufacture to producing the critical PPE we all need. We applaud and are so grateful for what this means for our nation and health care teams on the frontlines here at KP and across the nation.

If one of our co-workers tests positive, will we be informed?

Just like for any highly infectious exposure that occurs in the workplace, any and all individuals on the care team that might have been exposed will be notified. Depending on the level of exposure – the appropriate actions will be taken – which could range from self-monitoring for symptoms to being sent home for a period of time and put on paid administrative.

Will Kaiser Permanente test employees and physicians for coronavirus?

We are taking precautions to protect our people and patients. For example, we’ve implemented a Secured Entry/Greeter programs which limits access to our medical facilities and direct people who may have COVID-19 symptoms to an isolated area for follow-up. Temperature taking of visitors, staff, and physicians entering our facilities helps to identify those with coronavirus symptoms.

COVID-19 testing is only available by a doctor’s order. If a health care worker or first responder is showing COVID-19 symptoms, they will be tested following consultation and approval by their physician.

If you are concerned that you or a family member are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, please call the appointment and advice line for further instructions before coming in, as you need an appointment to get tested. Members who have flu-like symptoms and are 18 or older can also complete an e-visit to get online care, advice, coronavirus screening, and treatment for symptoms if necessary.

What should I do if I have symptoms? How should I get care?

Employees who experience symptoms at home should first call the advice number on the back of their Kaiser Permanente membership card for instructions, and then notify their manager in accordance with existing sick policies and procedures. If an employee becomes ill with these symptoms while at work, the employee should separate themselves from other coworkers or patients, and report it to their manager immediately.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus that can spread between people in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). It is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Coronavirus may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Is KP prepared for increase in patients due to a medical surge?

Yes. We have been developing additional methods of providing care should the surge exceed our bed capacity. We are able to transfer patients to alternative hospitals like USNS Mercy, the new LA Surge Hospital, and numerous temporary field hospitals. Further, we have converted more than 90% of our primary care appointments to virtual care. This has readied supplementary resources to meet the expected growth in needed care. Kaiser Permanente has confronted highly infectious diseases over the years, and we are confident we can safely and expertly treat coronavirus patients while maintaining the safety of our employees and physicians.