Wellpath COVID-19/Coronavirus Resource Center
Thank you for joining Wellpath for the COVID-19 Partner Webinar on Thursday, March 25, 2021. Click here to access the presentation slides. Click below to watch a video of the webinar.
OROVILLE — The Butte County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday it has begun administering doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to inmates at the Butte County Jail. Butte County Public Health provided the Sheriff’s Office with enough doses of the vaccine to administer it to 100 inmates. According to a BCSO press release, the Sheriff’s Office is continuing to work with the…
Across the nation and here in Illinois decisions are being made over who gets the vaccine and when. In this process there has been some public outrage over inmate inoculations. While this is understandable on one level, it is, in fact, counterproductive. Inoculating inmates, health professionals and correctional officers are an important step in containing COVID and in saving…
MESSAGE FROM THE CEO
A Message from Jorge Dominicis, CEO of Wellpath
Thank you for visiting the Wellpath COVID-19/Coronavirus Resource Center. We created this site to give you the information you need to navigate the uncertain and ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The management of correctional facilities and hospitals is difficult in the best of times. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has added a new layer of challenges for all of us who devote our lives to providing healthcare to vulnerable incarcerated men, women, and juveniles. We hope you will find some answers here.
But a webpage alone will not solve your problems. It is the partnership of dedicated professionals from your administration and the Wellpath clinical and leadership teams to cut through the noise and better understand how COVID-19 affects your facilities. In that spirit, I urge you to stay in close contact with your Wellpath Health Services Administrator (HSA) and/or Regional Operations Leaders. They are your liaison to all of us at Wellpath. Together we are doing everything we can to address your challenges with creativity and professionalism.
Wellpath will continue working closely with you to serve the healthcare needs of our patient populations. Our challenges will continue to be unique, as the nature of COVID-19 reveals itself daily. None of us has the luxury of waiting for answers. We must all respond to the known and unknown with precision, professionalism, and best practices with the best information we have.
We are updating this site as information from credible sources emerge, and we will continue to send COVID-19 updates as needed. If you have valuable information to share with your colleagues in other locations, let us help you spread it. Please help us keep the lines of communication open. Please be assured that you are our priority.
To hope and healing,
Chief Executive Officer, Wellpath
PREPAREDNESS & ACTION PLANNING
Today’s COVID-19 environment is unique in many ways, but it is a healthcare challenge our team is meeting head-on. Wellpath is tracking the evolving state of the pandemic and continually deploying initiatives and recommendations by the government, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are also working closely with local health departments on this emerging, rapidly evolving public health threat.
Wellpath understands how critical our role is for keeping staff and patients safe. Our primary focus during this time is to:
- Vaccinate when available and possible (in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines)
- Prevent the spread of the disease
- Cohort patients as one group for each day’s intake
- Promptly identify and isolate patients with possible COVID-19
- Care for patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19
- Initiate COVID-19 emergency procedures in the event of an escalating outbreak
- Monitor and manage potential staff exposures
- Communicate effectively within the facility and local public health authorities
To that end, we have taken the following key actions:
Wellpath COVID-19/Coronavirus Executive Task Force
Our executive-led COVID-19 Task Force is comprised of multi-disciplinary site leaders from across the organization. The Task Force meets multiple times a week to ensure our sites have the information and resources they need to manage the situation.
Emergency Preparedness Checklist
Our COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness Checklist has been implemented at all our sites. It includes staffing contingency plans, ongoing monitoring, reporting and tracking of potential and confirmed cases, medical supply management, and supplemental intake screening procedures.
Wellpath Clinical Leader Calls
Our Associate Chief Clinical Officer leads large conference calls with our clinical and operations leaders to share information, provide guidance, and field questions. Key participants include clinical, nursing, procurement and human resources professionals.
KEEPING OUR STAFF INFORMED
Wellpath keeps our clinical team informed as information becomes available on key areas including:
- Development of vaccines and vaccine administration
- Developments in test specimen collection
- Developments on PPE use and reuse
- Guidance on maximizing PPE orders
- How to decrease risk if respirators are no longer available
- COVID-19 testing procedures
- COVID-19 intake screening instructions
- How COVID-19 might impact patient suicide risk
IMPORTANT TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION & CONSIDERATION
To keep you updated, below is an overview of what we are finding to be the most commonly discussed topics. If you would like any additional information about these topics, please contact your Wellpath HSA.
- VACCINATION: COVID-19 vaccinations are supplied to the facilities by and at the direction of the local and state Departments of Health (DOH). Wellpath is unable to secure or provide a supply of vaccination for administration to custody, healthcare staff, or patients but is working closely with the DOH to obtain the vaccine and administer to everyone who qualifies. Vaccination is strongly encouraged for all who qualify and have an opportunity to be vaccinated. The CDC has recommended that employees who are fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine after an exposure, but patients in correctional facilities who have had an exposure should still be quarantined regardless of vaccination status at this time.
- IN-PERSON VISITATION: Most facilities have suspended in-person visitation. To the extent that you have not, Wellpath strongly encourages each facility to consider eliminating in-person visitation, as well as “weekender,” and work release programs during periods of community spread and local outbreaks. Video visitation, if available, is an effective substitute during this time of social distancing. The local community and facility situation should be considered before re-opening in-person visitation and “weekender” or work release programs.
- COMPASSIONATE RELEASE: Many of our partners across the country continue to evaluate compassionate release as a way to make room for quarantine and isolation areas within facilities. To aid these evaluations, Wellpath can help by recommending clinically appropriate candidates for compassionate release. We recognize that these decisions are yours, and are based on many factors, including appropriateness for release and adequate outside access to housing, medical care and other social support systems.
- TELEHEALTH: Wellpath currently has 2,100 credentialed staff, including Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physicians Assistants, Psychologists, and Mental Health Clinicians. In addition to credentialed providers, we have more than 6,000 nurses. To increase social distancing for high-risk staff and slow the spread of the virus, we are expanding our use of telehealth. Wellpath currently conducts more than 100,000 telehealth encounters each year. We expect that number to increase dramatically. Early in 2020, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced, effective immediately, that it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against healthcare providers who use everyday communications technologies, such as Zoom, FaceTime or Skype, during the declared nationwide public health emergency in response to the worldwide pandemic. This applies to widely available communications apps, such as FaceTime or Skype, when used in good faith for any telehealth treatment or diagnostic purpose, regardless of whether the telehealth service is directly related to COVID-19.
- MEDICATION SUPPLY: The nationwide medication supply chain has adequate reserves and monitoring is in place with a focus on limiting the stockpiling of medication. The (CDC) position statement has reassured us that it is safe to ship boxes of medications. Wellpath Recovery Solutions Pharmacies, as well as our correctional pharmacy partners have been actively monitoring their pharmacy inventories to prevent medication shortages. We have continued to work with our medical staff, providing pandemic guidelines for prescribing. We have discussed Essential Medication guidelines with our medical staff that focus on ensuring the availability of scheduled medication for the treatment of chronic illnesses.
- MEDICATION SUPPLY (continued): Medical staff have been encouraged to review the use of “as needed”/intermittent medications for non-chronic conditions on patient profiles looking for opportunities to decrease polypharmacy and the patient’s overall pill burden. As part of our contingency planning, we have evaluated the medication administration process as it is a nursing resource intensive activity, with exposure risks to patients and staff.
- ELECTIVE MEDICAL, DENTAL and OFFSITE PROCEDURES: In keeping with the government’s March 18, 2020 announcement, Wellpath has postponed all elective medical and dental procedures. Additionally, we are reviewing requests for offsite specialty care so that, where appropriate, we can convert some requests to onsite care, virtual visits from providers, and specialty electronic consults. We will temporarily defer other non-urgent offsite requests where appropriate. Where offsite specialty care cannot be deferred Wellpath is working with the community specialty clinics to minimize potential exposure and spread of COVID to the patient, transporting staff, and health care staff both at the specialty clinic and in the facility. This includes the use of PPE, and possibly COVID testing before and/or after the off-site visit, and/or quarantine of the patient after the visit.
- WORKING TOGETHER TO STOP THE SPREAD: Together we care for large numbers of people in close quarters, and we are doing all that we can to keep our patients and employees healthy. This includes taking aggressive actions to prevent the coronavirus from entering the facility, reminding our staff members to sanitize common areas multiple times a day, practicing proper hand hygiene, and staying home if they are not feeling well.
- PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE): Our staff uses Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) based on CDC criteria and best practices when available/possible.
- MASKING: Wellpath’s suggested masking guidance, until further guidance is provided and until further notice, is as follows:
- All new intakes should be issued surgical masks and quarantined for 14-days before moving to general population.
- All corrections staff and Wellpath staff should wear masks in all situations where others are present.
- All Wellpath staff who are working directly with patients should wear N-95 or KN-95 respirators.
- All patients at high-risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19 should wear N-95 or KN-95 respirators.
- All inmates/detainees should wear masks in all situations where others are present.
- CONTINGENCY PLANNING: Wellpath has developed facility-specific contingency plans in the event we experience Covid-19 related staffing shortages and other challenges. Most of our partner facilities have developed similar plans to deal with staffing shortages and the need to quarantine or otherwise manage infected inmates. To help us better manage this together, we would suggest that our local teams share and discuss these plans to ensure alignment of resources. We also ask that our team provide the combined plan to Wellpath leadership. If we identify gaps, we will address them before the situation requires action.
THE BASICS ABOUT COVID-19/CORONAVIRUS
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness in people. COVID-19 is one of seven types of known human coronaviruses. It is believed to be spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
What are the symptoms?
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
This list does not include all possible symptoms.
Those at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include those who:
- Are 65+ years and older
- Live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- Have chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- Have serious heart conditions
- Are immunocompromised (Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications)
- Have severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
- Have diabetes
- Have chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- Have liver disease
Pregnant patients should be monitored for severe viral illness.
Please visit this link for more information about high-risk individuals.
Should I get tested?
Most people have mild illness and can recover at home. Please follow local directives to determine if testing is medically indicated.
How do we treat it?
There are three vaccines that have been approved by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization. Click here for complete information about all of the vaccines.
How do we prevent it?
Wear a facemask
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover or mask when in public settings and when around people who do not live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain
- The face covering/mask is not a substitute for social distancing
- The face covering/mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected
- You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick
Keep your hands clean
- Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after being in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; properly dispose tissues
- Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth
- Wear a facemask
TIP: As a timer while washing hands or using hand sanitizer, hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Avoid contact with others – at least 6 feet distance
- Wear a facemask
- Close contact generally does not include brief interactions, such as walking past a person, according to OSHA.
- Use Personal Protective Equipment appropriate to the task
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
- Use EPA-registered disinfectants >>
- Use gloves if handling dirty laundry, including towels, from an infected person. Discard gloves after each use.
- Exercise hand hygiene >>
- CDC guidance on how to clean and disinfect properly >>