It’s not unusual for businesses to partner with local health organizations as a way of keeping their workforce healthy. However, those partnerships have become even more crucial since COVID-19 arrived on scene.
“We have been contacted by a lot of companies asking for expertise – for guidance if somebody tests positive, how long before they can return to work, and even extra staff to help with contact tracing,” shares Denise Diaz, Director of Business Health Services at Bon Secours St. Francis.
Our WorkWell Occupational Health Program has been around since the early ‘90s and currently serves hundreds of Upstate businesses. Additionally, the program provides on-site medical and occupational health clinics for about two dozen organizations.
“Our on-site clinics take care of the day-to-day bumps, scratches, etc. to keep people healthy and productive,” shares James Oliver, MD, WorkWell Medical Director. “We can take care of small issues while they’re at work, so they don’t have to take a day off to go make an appointment. They also don’t have to ignore it and get sicker, because they don’t want to take a day off and use their vacation time.”
When COVID-19 began spreading rapidly across the Upstate, these on-site clinics became a valuable resource for companies. Employers were all trying to navigate how to continue their day-to-day business without putting employees at risk.
“We’re getting a lot of COVID-19 related questions,” says Krishna Patel, a nurse practitioner who works at an on-site clinic for Greenville County. “The biggest part of my job has been trying to make sure we tell them what facts are true versus what they’re hearing [elsewhere].”
Dr. Oliver says the biggest challenge has been educating companies about testing and the role it plays in determining when employees can safely return to work.
“People just don’t understand the test is not 100%. It narrows down the field, but it doesn’t eliminate risk. If you’re talking about a company with 1,000 employees, and one person gets a false negative and goes back to work and spreads it among everybody, then they’re shutting down their plant. So, that’s probably the biggest thing I do is explaining that testing is valuable, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You still have to do other things like masking, handwashing, and social distancing to truly prevent spread.”
Many companies have also called on Bon Secours for help performing on-site temperature checks, screenings and education on the correct usage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Mostly, companies are looking for preventative services, so they want to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to health care and of course being safe at work as well,” says Denise.
Our WorkWell Program has always operated with the goal of prevention in mind – offering biometric screenings, employee assistance and work/life services, as well as health promotion programs and wellness challenges. Prevention efforts have become even more crucial as the number of COVID-19 cases rises.
“I’m at the prevention level, so that’s my main focus – to keep them from getting to the point of where they need to go to the ER or ICU. At the end of the day, I want to prevent them from getting the virus and from spreading it,” says Krishna.
Learn more about the occupational health services offered by Bon Secours.
Stay updated on what Bon Secours is doing related to COVID-19.