NewCourtland held its first, of many to come, video town hall meetings. It was an opportunity to hear from the experts about the importance of the Covid booster. If you did not get the chance to participate, we taped the presentation and provided a link here.
What is NewCourtland doing to increase the safety of staff and residents during the current COVID-19 surge?
NewCourtland is committed to being the safest environment possible for staff and residents during the ongoing pandemic. Together, we can build a wall of protection against COVID-19 using multiple tools to minimize illness and disruptions in service provision. Cases of COVID-19 are rising significantly and will challenge daily operations. We have gotten through prior waves of uncertainty and loss because of your dedication to work together to establish NewCourtland as one of the first fully vaccinated companies. We want to remain fully vaccinated, as this is an essential tool in protecting everyone in our community from severe illness, death, and further trauma. Together, we must pave the way through the current surge. Below is a summary of information to help us all stay informed and safe and provide the most up to date answers to your questions.
VACCINES: NewCourtland STRONGLY encourages all staff to receive a COVID-19 booster as soon as possible. As an incentive to get the booster shoot, all staff that receive their booster shot prior to January 17th, 2022 will receive 5 days of additional PTO time if they experience a COVID-19 breakthrough infection. NewCourtland strives to have all staff boosted by February 1st, 2022. Consistent with other organizations, NewCourtland will consider enforcing a COVID-19 booster dose condition of employment if we are unable to reach the goal of a fully boosted workforce. We will continue to offer COVID-19 booster doses on campus.
MASKS: All NewCourtland staff will upgrade their masks to N95s to decrease transmission at the workplace. These masks will be provided to each employee.
TESTING: Staff across the network who experience exposure or symptoms will have access to COVID-19 testing. Please contact your supervisor or HR should you need assistance scheduling a COVID test.
PTO: Staff that experience COVID-19 infection or exposure to COVID-19 will be eligible for PTO advances for up to 10 calendar days to cover their time for scheduled shifts. Staff who are experiencing hardships related to the multifaceted effects of COVID-19 on daily function are encouraged to speak with their managers about necessary contingency plans.
What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 booster?
People who received a booster dose are in a much better position to manage their symptoms at home instead of in a hospital if they experience a breakthrough infection. A booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provides an additional layer of protection against severe illness at a time when infection risk is very high, and society is strained with a surge in cases. Each dose of the vaccine strengthens the complexity of your immune response in preparation for when you meet up with the COVID-19 virus. During the current surge of cases, it is highly likely that you will cross paths with someone infected with COVID-19. People who receive a booster dose of the vaccine have more tools (like antibodies and T cells) to clear the body of the COVID-19 virus. The boosted immune tools are VERY EFFECTIVE at preventing severe illness from Omicron. Breakthrough infections are less likely in people who have received a booster dose when compared to people who have not been vaccinated or boosted.
What can I do at home to limit my risk of COVID-19 infection and severe illness?
There are many interventions you can put in place at home to decrease risk. These strategies work best when they are used in combination with each other.
Why can I still get infected with COVID-19 if I receive a booster dose of the vaccine?
While boosted people are less likely to develop infection, the risk is not zero. When cases of COVID-19 were low, it was less likely for a fully vaccinated person to meet enough virus to cause a breakthrough infection. There are more people currently infected with COVID-19 in Philadelphia and the country than at any point in the pandemic to date. As community case numbers rise, the small percentage of cases among those who have been vaccinated and boosted grows but still remains a small proportion of total cases. Unfortunately, a small percentage of a big number is still a big number. People who receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are still less likely to develop infection than someone who did not receive any vaccination or after partial vaccination. Most importantly, breakthrough infections are FAR less likely to require hospitalization or result in death.
What should I do if I develop COVID-19 symptoms?
If you start to experience symptoms while you are out of your home, keep your mask on and safely get yourself home as soon as possible. If possible, isolate from other house mates. If you live alone, give someone a call to let them know you are sick. Activate your emergency plan to ensure you have the medicines, food, and caregiving support you may need while sick. Alert your healthcare provider of the situation. They may recommend testing and further treatment.
Next, call your supervisor and inform them of your symptoms. They will provide additional guidance for testing and isolation.
Over the next few days, keep an eye on your symptoms. A journal is useful to track the date and time of your symptoms. You can also write down when you take medication, your response to the medication, and changes in your condition. If you are caring for someone else who is sick, the notes can be very helpful in identifying worsening or improvement in symptoms. The notes can also help you communicate the timeline of events with your healthcare providers.
If your symptoms are worsening, you should bump up your care plan. Worsening symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, a fever that is not improving with medications like Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), inability to hold down fluids for multiple hours, changes in behavior or alertness, and other symptoms that you are uncomfortable managing independently. Several medical practices have increased their capacity for telehealth services which are helpful to assess the situation and modify the care plan. Urgent care centers and hospitals are also an option for severe symptoms.