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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for PCAs and caregivers in the home

Office Closure

Accra offices are currently closed to the public. Please contact us at 952-935-3515 if you need to reach us. We will have staff available to answer your questions from 8am – 4:30pm on Mondays through Thursdays, and Fridays from 8am – 4pm. Also please review the updated information below.

The safety and wellbeing of our clients, caregivers and employees is Accra’s highest priority.

Our response team is actively coordinating with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), closely monitoring this evolving situation and developing specific action plans to address this situation.

Information for PCAs and caregivers in the home

As the Coronavirus situation in Minnesota rapidly evolves, we are making changes to our operational practices to do our part to help prevent person-to-person transmission of the virus, and keep our employees, caregivers and clients safe. Please see the updates below:

Updates | July 14

Mask replenishment

Accra is now distributing masks on a “request” basis. When requested by a client, we will send out three surgical masks and one cloth mask for each caregiver/PCA a client has actively working. Clients can email us at masks@accracare.org or call us at 952-935-3515 with their request.

Face Shields

Accra PCA/Homemaker/245D clients will be receiving a face shield for each active staff person they have working.

A face shield should be dedicated to only one caregiver. They should be immediately cleaned when they are visibly soiled, whenever they are removed such as when leaving the client home, and at least daily (after every shift) prior to putting them back on (See cleaning guidance below).

After cleaning, a face shield should be stored in a paper bag and labeled with the caregiver’s name to prevent accidental sharing between caregivers. Face shields should be closely examined prior to each reuse to ensure the integrity of the foam pad, elastic strap, and clarity of the visor. To clean the face shield:

  1. Carefully wipe the inside and then the outside of the face shield using a clean cloth saturated with neutral detergent solution, rinse if needed.
  2. Carefully wipe the outside of the visor using a clean cloth or wipe saturated with a disinfectant solution; be sure it remains wet for the required contact time. Lysol or a similar product will suffice.
  3. Wipe the outside of visor with clean water to remove residue.
  4. Fully dry (air dry or use clean absorbent towels).

Updates | May 20

Surgical Masks to be issued to Caregivers

Accra has been actively trying to obtain surgical masks and other PPE to provide to caregivers. This week we will begin distributing surgical masks to our clients for them to provide to their caregiver. We have instructed clients to ask their staff providing direct care to use surgical masks when they are working.

Here are guidelines for how to reuse and dispose of surgical masks properly according to CDC guidelines:

  • Surgical masks can be worn for a full shift, then placed in a paper bag labeled with your name and reused by you. Please rotate these bagged masks every 3-5 shifts. This allows the virus, if present, to die on the surface of the mask before reuse.
  • Use these masks until the mask is ripped or too contaminated for reuse; the mask should then be thrown away.
  • Because we cannot guarantee the availability of more surgical masks in a timely way, consistent with MDH recommendations, we are encouraging clients and caregivers to make or obtain cloth masks as an interim solution until more PPE is available.

Expanded Testing Available in Minnesota

There is now a statewide strategy to test all symptomatic people, isolate confirmed cases, and expand public health surveillance tools. Governor Walz hopes to test as many as 20,000 Minnesotans per day, through a new partnership between the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic and the health systems. This increased testing and tracing will help improve control of the pandemic and support the safe re-opening of society. Most clinics and hospitals across the state have the ability to collect samples (specimens) for lab testing.

Call your health care provider before going to the clinic or hospital to be tested. To find a testing location visit: https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/if-sick/testing-locations/index.jsp.

In addition, Minnesota Community Health Clinics are able to offer free testing to those without insurance; you can search for a location at this web address: https://mnachc.org/community-health-centers/find-a-health-center.

Information for caregivers with more than one client

A caregiver serving more than one client can take extra steps to keep yourself and clients safe.

  • One simple thing you can do is make sure you change your clothes when going from one home to the other; this includes shoes.
  • Always wash your clothes after working with your clients, and of course, be sure to your wash hands.
  • If you’ve been able to obtain a cloth mask or face covering, either wash it in between working for clients or use a different one that has been washed. The Accra website lists the correct way to place and remove masks to avoid contamination.
  • Your client(s) should be asking you to screen for symptoms every day. This includes checking your temperature and checking if you have any potential symptoms of COVID. Even if they are not asking you, you can do this independently using this app: https://www.apple.com/covid19.
  • If you do experience symptoms, call your client and inform them right away. As an essential caregiver, you may be able to get tested so reach out to your local clinic to request this. And if you do test positive, please inform the client and Accra. 

CDC Updated Guidance on Covid-19 Symptoms

In late April, the CDC made six additions to its official list of COVID-19 symptoms to help doctors and patients better understand who might be sickened by the novel coronavirus. The newly added symptoms include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. Visit this web address for more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

CDC Updated Guidance on Home Isolation

The CDC has updated its recommendation on when isolation can end for people who have tested positive, or experienced symptoms. Now CDC is recommending remaining in isolation until at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, in addition to meeting other criteria related to fever and other symptoms. For more information, visit web address: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html and topic area “How to discontinue home isolation.”

Previous Updates

  • We highly recommend that all caregivers follow the MDH and CDC guidelines and wear a mask when in public and when they care for clients. According to the CDC, a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. As a result, the CDC had updated its recommendation on masks. Masks or cloth face coverings can help with preventing your germs from infecting others – especially in situations where you may spread the virus without symptoms. Updated CDC guidance here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html.
  • We know that personal protective equipment (PPE) is difficult to obtain at this time, so hand washing, use of hand sanitizer and social distancing are extremely important ways to avoid passing along this virus. If you do not have a mask available, you can also make your own mask. For instructions, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.
  • Accra wants to ensure that you are well informed about the COVID-19 virus and how to prevent person-to-person transmission. Care Academy has a course called “COVID-19 Training: A Guide for Direct Care Workers.” It offers caregivers an overview of COVID-19, strategies on prevention and information on how to support someone who has the virus. The training takes 15-30 minutes, and at the end, a certificate is produced documenting the completion of the course. Accra will reimburse you for the time you spend on the course. The training is available at this link: https://info.careacademy.com/en-us/covid19-certification-class#Understand_COVID-19. A training record was sent to caregivers via email and mail; submit to Human Resources at accratraining@accracare.org.
  • Apple has developed a screening tool to help people take the proper steps to protect their health during the spread of COVID-19. The new COVID-19 website, and COVID-19 app, were created in partnership with the CDC. iPhone users can download the Apple COVID-19 app in the app store. If you do not have an iPhone, visit https://www.apple.com/covid19. Users answer a series of questions around risk factors, recent exposure and symptoms for themselves or another person. In turn, they will receive CDC recommendations on next steps, including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, whether or not a test is recommended, and when to contact a medical provider. This screening tool is designed to be a resource for individuals and does not replace instructions from healthcare providers or guidance from state and local health authorities. Accra believes this could be a helpful way to protect your health and the health of your client.
  • MDH is suspending the fingerprint requirement of the background study for all Direct Support Professionals. This means that applicants will not need to submit their fingerprints at this time. The Department of Human Services will still conduct a background study check that includes:
    — A check of records from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA)
    — A check of records from Minnesota counties and the Minnesota Departments of Health and of Human Services for substantiated abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of a child or vulnerable adult.
    Applicants will need to submit their fingerprints after the end of the Peacetime Emergency. Accra Human Resources will contact those employees and clients when that time comes.
  • Any staff looking for more hours are encouraged to sign up on the Accra Job Board at www.accrajobboard.org. It’s quick and easy. Accra employees can post that they are looking for another client/family to support. If you have any questions, call us toll free at 866-935-3515.
  • With the closing of Minnesota’s schools, emergency childcare may be available to parents or guardians working in the healthcare industry. Letters are available to you if you need employment verification or any assistance. Please contact our office at (952) 935-3515; these letters can be mailed or emailed. For more information on school closings and child care, you can contact the state hotline at 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504.
  • Contact your Accra case manager if you have any questions about the care of your clients.  If you have specific questions about COVID-19, call the MDH general hotline at 651-201-3920.   If you or your client may have symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact your medical provider by phone, inform them of your concerns and then follow their specific instructions.
  • A reminder that you must report to the Human Resources department if you have a positive COVID-19 test result at employeebenefits@accracare.org.
  • We have an employment verification letter for caregivers (stating that they are an essential employee.) This is not a mandatory document to carry, but some caregivers are more comfortable carrying it with them during the time of the Governor’s “Stay at Home” Executive Order. A copy was sent via mail and email to your attention. If you still need a copy, please email us at employeebenefits@accracare.org.
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