COVID-19 Updates

A Special Message from CEO Ben Breier for Our Frontline Caregivers


At Kindred, we are closely monitoring the situation related to the most recent coronavirus, known as COVID-19. We have formed an incident command structure that is following all new developments so we can provide our employees with the most up-to-date information possible. Our highest priority is protecting our patients, our team members, and our communities from exposure to this virus by a measured, science-based series of interventions.

Read the latest update to all team members from Ben Breier, Kindred's CEO:
COVID-19 Update – November 20, 2020


Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated September 11, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. EST

Please note that, when applicable, we have created separate sections for questions that apply to all team members, as well as those that are specific to Hospital Division team members and Kindred Rehabilitation Services team members. For specific clinical or operational directives, please follow the guidelines as they apply to your respective care setting:

All Team Members

CLINICAL

Q. Are there any special precautions/guidelines for caregivers who are pregnant?
A.
Yes. At this time, any caregivers who are pregnant should not be caring for persons under investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19 or patients confirmed positive for COVID-19. These team members can still work with all other patients.

Q. What preparations are our facilities taking to address staffing in case multiple employees are sick or have to self-isolate?
A. The CDC guidance continues to change related to self-isolation guidelines for healthcare workers in order to minimize situations where there would not be enough staff to care for patients. We continue to monitor CDC and local public health guidance on self-isolation practices for healthcare workers, and we also are working with external staffing agencies to obtain additional contingent staff should the need arise.

Q. Does Kindred currently have any limitation on personal travel within the United States? If I take personal travel and have to self-isolated upon my return, will the company pay me during the self-isolation period?
A. As recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all non-essential travel should be postponed at this time. In addition, all team members should follow official recommendations in their respective states regarding avoiding gatherings, sheltering in place, etc. 

If a team member chooses to take any non-essential travel and is required to self-isolate upon returning home, Kindred will not pay the team member during this self-isolation period (beyond any PTO hours that could be used during the time away from work). 

You can read more about the CDC’s recommendations regarding travel in the U.S. on their website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html

Q. If someone I live with (such as a spouse, partner, roommate, child, relative) is instructed to self-isolate because they may have been exposed to COVID-19 at work, does the team member also need to self-isolate?
A.
If your spouse/partner/roommate/child/relative is instructed to self-isolate due to travel to a pandemic country or potential exposure in the workplace, etc., then that individual should self-isolate. 

There are CDC guidelines for self-isolation to prevent exposure to other family members/co-habitants, which you can find here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html

If the CDC guidelines can be followed, there is no reason for the team member to also self-isolate, though he/she should continue to self-monitor (check temperature regularly, be aware of any developing symptoms, etc.). If the guidelines cannot be followed for whatever reason, the team member should call his or her supervisor to discuss the need to remain at home during the 14-day self-isolation period for the spouse/partner/roommate/child/relative. 

Q. Are there any specific recommendations or directives for team members who are 60 years of age or older?
A.
At this time, there are no additional precautions outside of the CDC guidelines for reducing transmission. This guidance includes ensuring proper hand-washing techniques, social distancing, and avoiding touching of the face, nose and mouth. Below are links with additional details on general precautions for the public:

We recommend no employee come to work if he/she is not feeling well.

Q. I am immunocompromised or have a condition that results in a weakened immune system. What are my options for continuing to work if I am concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 positive patients?
A. Caring for patients with transmissible infections is part of our daily work at Kindred. If you are immunocompromised and would like to request an accommodation to limit your exposure to COVID-19 positive patients, please contact Unum’s ADA team at 1-877-217-5497. Unum will work with you and your physician to gather information that will help the company determine whether a reasonable accommodation can be made. Reasonable accommodations may include reviewing patient assignments to help minimize exposure. During the process, you should work closely with your HR Representative to determine if federal, state or local law requires additional considerations.

Q. As a supervisor, what do I do if a team member indicates that s/he suffers from a condition that results in a weakened immune system and s/he does not wish to continue to work?
A. Team members who are immunocompromised and would like to request an accommodation to limit their exposure to COVID-19 positive patients should call Unum’s ADA team at 1-877-217-5497. Unum will gather information from the team member and his/her physician that will help the company determine whether the employee can be reasonably accommodated. Reasonable accommodations may include reviewing patient assignments to help minimize exposure. During the pendency of the Unum process, the team member should work closely with his/her HR Representative to determine if federal, state, or local law requires additional considerations. 

Q. How long does COVID-19 remain active on surfaces, such as counters, handles, etc.?
A.
Based on what is currently known about COVID-19 and similar coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within about six feet). This type of transmission occurs via respiratory droplets. Transmission of coronaviruses to individuals from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented. That said, current evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.

Q. With many universities moving to online classes across the country, should we temporarily restrict students from completing clinical studies/requirements in our facilities?
A.
Students completing clinical studies/requirements should follow the same process your facility is using for all other visitors and vendors, which likely includes being required to sign-in and answer screening questions. Additionally, we discourage assigning students to isolation patients at this time to help manage personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies.

Q. Are there any approved resources we can use to help educate patients/family members/team members/visitors about COVID-19 and precautions they can take?
A. Yes, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a variety of resources on their website. You can find a variety of fact sheets that you can download and print (many of which are available in English and other languages) on the CDC’s site: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/factsheets.html

Q. For our patients or family members whose primary language is something other than English, are there any general educational materials related to COVID-19 we can share?
A.
Yes. The Betsy Lehman Patient Center for Patient Safety – a patient-centered organization in Massachusetts – published a variety of educational resources related to COVID-19 in more than 30 different languages, including Spanish, Korean, Arabic, German, Creole, Hindi, Italian, and Russian. The fact sheets are being translated by a coalition of over 150 medical students representing 35 institutions, and all materials are reviewed and vetted by faculty members at Harvard Medical School. The full list of resources and languages can be found at https://covid19healthliteracyproject.com/#languages.

Q. Are there any resources we can share with patients who live with large or extended families that may include individuals who are at higher risk for COVID-19?
A.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released guidelines for infection prevention for large or extended families living in the same household, including those with older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The guidelines are available for download in English at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/living-in-close-quarters.pdf and in several other languages on this page.

Q. If our facility is running out of high-demand supplies as a result of precautions related to COVID-19, are we able to purchase off-contract supplies?
A. There is an established escalation process in place through all local Materials Managers. If your facility is running low on supplies, please reach out to your Materials Manager for assistance. If necessary, the Materials Manager will escalate the request to the Support Center Supply Chain Organization.

Q. There are reports of a national concern about the availability of masks; what can we do to ensure we have what we need to provide care for our patients?
A.
Materials Management should report PPE supply status to the facility CCO/CEO on a daily basis. The allocation for each facility will be emailed to Materials Management each Friday. It is essential that the order for this amount be completed every Monday morning to ensure orders are delivered in a timely fashion. Please note the following:

  • Contact precautions ONLY require gowns and gloves.
  • Droplet isolation ONLY requires a standard mask; no gowns or gloves are required unless there is a potential for exposure of blood to bodily fluids.
  • Airborne isolation ONLY requires an N95 or PAPR.
  • If a patient is on multiple types of isolation, combine the recommendations accordingly.
  • Due to COVID-19, based on CDC guidance, Kindred requires all staff to wear a mask (procedure or N95) at all times while at work.

Please secure all N95 and isolation masks for use only when needed and to prevent removal from the facility. In addition, it is important to remember that proper handwashing and avoiding touching of the face, nose and mouth are the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your patients from infections.

Q. Should male clinicians with facial hair wear an N95 mask or a PAPR?
A. If a male team member has more than one day of beard growth, he cannot achieve an adequate seal with the N95 mask, and should not care for a patient in negative pressure isolation requiring N95 unless a PAPR is available for use. If a PAPR is not available, an alternate team member should be assigned to the care of the patient.

Q. What is the recommended alcohol percentage in hand sanitizer to effectively protect against COVID-19?
A. The CDC recommends that if soap and water are not readily available for hand-washing, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands with the sanitizer and rub them together until they feel dry.

Q. Should service animals accompanying a visitor be restricted from entry to our facilities?
A. Yes, out of an abundance of caution, service animals should be restricted from entry to our facilities.

HIPAA AND PATIENT PRIVACY

Q. If one of my team members/patients is in self-isolation or tested positive for COVID-19, what information can be shared with other members of our staff?
A.
If a team member or patient is confirmed to have COVID-19, you should inform your team of the possibility that they were exposed in the workplace if they were in contact with the team member or patient. However, you should NOT disclose the identity of the ill team member or patient as that remains protected health information.

Q. How is Kindred notifying newly admitted patients about COVID-19?
A.
At the time of admission, each patient and family member receives notice as part of their admission packet about COVID-19 and how Kindred is responding to the needs of patients and family members.

Q. If one of my patients is under investigation or tested positive for COVID-19, what information can be shared with the impacted patient and responsible party?
A.
The affected patient should be notified, and the responsible party should be informed that their loved one has been placed on isolation and clinically appropriate testing has been initiated. The name of the affected patient should not be shared with other patients and families.

Q. If a patient at my site has been under investigation or tested positive for COVID-19, what information can be shared with the non-impacted patients at our at site?
A.
You cannot share the names, identities or room numbers of patients who are in quarantines/isolation or who have tested positive for COVID-19. You should tell concerned individuals the following: “Kindred is monitoring all incoming team members and patients for signs/symptoms that may indicate potential exposure. If a patient or team member tests positive for COVID-19, we are prepared to take appropriate action to deliver life-saving care while ensuring we protect our other patients who are critically ill and in a vulnerable state. In addition, out of an abundance of caution, we will monitor patients and team members for symptoms in compliance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.”

Q. If one of my team members is self-isolated or tests positive for COVID-19, what information can be shared with patients and their responsible parties?
A.
If a team member tests positive for COVID-19 or is under self-isolation, the name of the team member should not be shared with staff, patients or families. You should tell concerned individuals the following: “If a patient or team member tests positive for COVID-19, we are prepared to take appropriate action to deliver life-saving care while ensuring we protect our other patients who are critically ill and in a vulnerable state. In addition, out of an abundance of caution, we will monitor patients and team members for symptoms in compliance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.”

Q. What information can Kindred ask a team member regarding his/her health during this situation?
A.
As an employer, Kindred may ask if a team member is experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, tiredness, cough or shortness of breath. We also can inquire about team member travel out of the country and between highly infected areas. If this information is maintained, it will be treated as confidential and only be available on a need-to-know basis.

Q. Can I look at a patient’s electronic medical record (EMR) to see if he/she has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
A.
You may ONLY look at a patient’s EMR if you are currently treating that patient. You MAY NOT look at the EMR of a patient who has not yet been admitted to see if he/she has been tested; the transferring facility will relay that information and site leadership will notify you if there is a risk of exposure. 

Q. What information can be shared with first responders?
A.
A facility may provide first responders with the names of those patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, a facility may (but is not required to) provide local 911 dispatch with a list of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and been discharged home.

Q. Can I post about a COVID-19 patient on social media to protect the public?
A.
NO, you may not post any information on social media related to a patient that is either being tested for COVID-19 or who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Q. What can I do to help ensure my team members are successfully managing their personal and professional lives during this difficult time?
A.
It is important to support best practices and celebrate the hard work of the entire team during this uncertain time. Take time to recognize everyone’s efforts and thank your fellow team members often. In addition, it is vital to continue practicing good hygiene – at home and at work – in accordance with CDC guidelines:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, unless you are wearing appropriate protection.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If you are not working, follow all local and state guidance related to staying home, avoiding gatherings, maintaining social distance and avoiding nonessential travel.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available), then throw the tissue in the trash and wash or sanitize your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS 

Q. Is Kindred electing to participate in the “payroll tax deferral?”
A.
No. An executive order signed by President Trump last month offers employers the option of not withholding Social Security payroll taxes from the paychecks of those earning under $104,000 annually, for the remainder of 2020. It’s not a mandatory program, and employers must choose whether or not to participate on behalf of the entire employee base. Individuals are not allowed to opt in or out on their own.

As currently structured, the program only defers payroll taxes, but does not eliminate them. Any employee whose taxes are deferred will likely have to pay them back before April 30, 2021.

Kindred has reviewed the program and determined that it is not in the best interest of our caregivers and team members because of the potential for increased financial burden once the deferral period ends December 31, 2020, and the deferred taxes become due by April 2021. As a result, Kindred has elected not to participate, and no payroll taxes will be deferred.

Q. What options do I have for taking a distribution from my Kindred 401(k) Plan account at this time?
A.
T. Rowe Price – the plan administrator for the Kindred 401(k) Plan – recently provided an update that the passing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allows a new penalty-free distribution of up to $100,000 during the 2020 calendar year to help qualified individuals meet urgent financial needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qualified individuals include:

  • Anyone diagnosed with the virus.
  • Anyone whose spouse or dependents have been diagnosed with the virus.
  • Those experiencing “adverse financial consequences” from quarantine, furlough, layoffs, reduced work hours, inability to work due to lack of child-care, or the closing or reduced hours of a business owned or operated by the individual on account of COVID-19.

For more information, including assistance determining if you are qualified or to request a distribution, please contact T. Rowe Price at 1-800-922-9945.

Q. I had a questions related to compensation/PTO that I submitted to HR Help, and they provided guidance on my specific situation. Do I need to inform my supervisor of the answer they provided me?
A. Yes. If you receive guidance from HR Help regarding pay, time off, etc., please be sure to share those instructions with your direct supervisor so he/she is aware of your situation.

OTHER/GENERAL

Q. Are there any company resources available for team members experiencing financial distress?
A.
Yes, if you are facing catastrophic financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact your manager/supervisor or local HR representative so they can initiate a HOPE Fund request on your behalf.

The HOPE Fund is Kindred’s 501(c)(3) charitable organization that was established to provide support to team members facing a wide array of catastrophic events, ranging from natural disasters and unexpected medical issues, to homelessness and the loss of immediate family members. You can learn more by visiting the HOPE Fund page.

Q. I want to support my fellow team members who may be facing financial distress related to the pandemic; how can I help?
A.
One way to help support team members who are facing financial distress is to consider contributing to the HOPE Fund. To make a tax-deductible contribution, please complete the payroll deduction form that accepts one-time donations or ongoing payroll deductions. Once complete, please return the form by faxing it to 1-877-737-1924.

Q. Are there resources available for team members to help deal with stress and anxiety?
A.
Yes, there are several resources available for team members to help you and your family members cope with some of the emotional challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • For all team members:
    • The Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which provides free and confidential access to licensed professional counselors who can help you with stress, anxiety, depression and other challenges. EAP services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via phone at 800.854.1446 or online at www.unum.com/lifebalance
  • For team members enrolled in a Kindred medical plan:
    • Teladoc Telemedicine Services, which provides anytime, anywhere access to quality healthcare services by U.S. board-certified physicians via consultation conducted by phone or video. Consultations are available for a variety of non-emergency conditions, as well as behavioral health issues such as stress and depression. For more information about Teladoc, please visit www.teladoc.com or call 1.800.835.2362.
    • Healthy Steps Wellness Program, which offers several activities and coaching programs that can help you during this difficult time. You can access your personal Healthy Steps Wellness account at www.healthystepswellness.com or via www.kindredforme.com.

For more details on these resources, please review the Wellness and Well-Being flyer that was mailed to team members’ homes in mid-April 2020.

Q. Outside of work, what precautions should I be taking when it comes to grocery shopping, ordering takeout, running errands, etc.?
A.
It is important that you follow any orders, guidelines or recommendations issued by state or local officials for your immediate area, including those related to social distancing, avoiding gatherings, and postponing all non-essential travel. In addition, the CDC has recommendations for protecting yourself and others while performing tasks required to accomplish essential household tasks such as buying groceries and medicine, completing banking activities, and ordering takeout or receiving other deliveries. For most of us, this entails maintaining six-feet of social distancing in social encounters, and if not possible, wearing a cloth or paper mask. You can find the full list of CDC guidance on their website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/essential-goods-services.html

Q. As we enter the summer season and begin spending more time outdoors, are there concerns that COVID-19 can be spread via mosquitoes or ticks?
A.
According to the CDC, there is no current data that indicates COVID-19 is spread by mosquitoes or ticks. The primary way the virus spreads is from person-to-person droplets. For more information, please refer to the CDC’s guidance on how COVID-19 spreads.

Q. Can COVID-19 spread through pools, hot tubs, etc.?
A.
The CDC indicates that there is no current evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, etc., especially when proper disinfection of the water takes place. However, the CDC recommends that individuals follow all state, local, territorial, or tribal guidance that determines when and how public pools, hot tubs, and other venues may operate. Additionally, the CDC states individuals should continue to protect themselves and others in these settings by maintaining proper social distance – even when in the water—and wearing cloth face covers when not in the water. For more information about precautions related to pools and hot tubs, please refer to the CDC’s list of considerations for aquatic venues as well as guidance provided by your state, local, territorial, or tribal health officials.

Q. I have another PRN job for a company other than Kindred. Are there any restrictions about continuing to work in Kindred facilities if I have other PRN work where I go to non-Kindred healthcare facilities?
A. There currently are no restrictions for clinicians working at other locations as long as you are following CDC guidelines and taking precautions to limit exposure to COVID-19. During this time, we encourage team members to check with your site staffing manager as we may have additional hours available at some of our facilities.

Q. I am in a role in which I can effectively complete my primary duties while working remotely, and I have made arrangements with my supervisor to do so. Where can I find resources or information for technology assistance?
A. For team members who have made arrangements with their supervisor to work remotely, IS has established a site on Knect with information and technology support resources at: Knect > Support Center  > COVID-19 Remote Workforce FAQs. 

Q. Given the disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, what is the deadline to file taxes for 2020?
A.
The federal government extended this year’s tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020, (instead of the traditional filing deadline of April 15, 2020). Please work with your tax professional for further information or assistance.

Q. Has the government provided any temporary relief for student loan repayment?
A.
Yes, in late March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included temporary relief for individuals with federal student loan payments. These loans were automatically put into “administrative forbearance” until September 30, 2020, which means you are not required to make payments toward your federal student loan debt until October, and no interest will be accrued during the forbearance period.

 


Kindred Rehabilitation Services (KRS)

CLINICAL

Q. What is the guidance on cleaning gait belts used in rehabilitation treatment?
A. There are three options related to ensuring gait belts remain clean and sanitary: 1) each patients utilizes his or her own gait belt that they do not share with anyone else; 2) launder the gait belts between each use; or 3) utilize gait belts that can be wiped down between use (plastic).

 


Hospital Division

CLINICAL

Q. A family has hired a private-duty sitter for a patient at our hospital. Given current restrictions on visitors, how should we handle private-duty sitters going forward?
A. If a private-duty sitter is already in place for a patient today, the sitter can continue his or her duties, but must be screened upon entrance to the facility like all other visitors. Any request for new private-duty sitters who are not already in place today should be based on medical need only. 

 


In addition, below are links with additional recommendations/precautions for the public regarding COVID-19: