Under the Weather? Take the Proper Precautions and Protect Others

KentuckyOne Health

As we venture further into cold and flu season here in Kentucky, we must be cognizant of not only the health of our patients, but of our own health as well. This includes not only taking measures to prevent illness, such as getting adequate sleep and practicing excellent hand hygiene, but also taking the proper precautions when we find ourselves under the weather to prevent the transmission of disease to others.

Recent studies have shown that as much as 90 percent of the working American population states they have come to work when ill, even if they suspected or knew they were contagious to others. When an ill employee presents to work, both colleagues and patients are placed at risk.

Think about it – we share restrooms, elevators, offices or nurses stations and even dining areas. When a person who is contagious is in the work environment, all of these locations are exposed and potentially contaminated. Every person who comes in contact with the ill individual or with these areas is then at risk for developing the illness themselves.

At KentuckyOne Health, we value the health and well-being of each and every employee, and are dedicated to ensuring that you are provided the safest work environment possible. In the spirit of this dedication, the following guidelines for employees who are ill and work attendance are recommended: 

  • If an employee has a febrile illness, with a temperature greater than 100.5, the employee should not report to work for 24 hours after they cease to have a fever without the use of anti-pyretic medications (Ibuprofen, Tylenol, etc.)
  • In addition, if an employee is ill with vomiting or diarrhea, they should not report to work until they have been free of the aforementioned for 24 full hours.
  • Employees who find themselves becoming ill after reporting to work should be sent home if presenting with febrile illness or with vomiting or diarrhea. Not only does this practice prevent contamination of the workplace, but also allows the ill employee adequate time for recovery before returning to work.

During cold and flu season, we often encounter illnesses that are not associated with a febrile state or with coughs and respiratory symptoms that remain long after the fever has subsided. In these cases:

  • It is important that employees are instructed on proper respiratory hygiene, including covering their coughs with the inner aspect of their elbows and wearing a mask when interacting with patients, when preparing any type of food or drink, or when in close contact with staff.
  • It is important to advise against covering a cough with the hand, as this can lead to increased surface transmission of organisms.
  • Finally, all employees should be frequently reminded of the need for excellent hand hygiene and resources to complete adequate hand hygiene should be readily available.

By practicing these guidelines, we can ensure that our patients and employees are protected throughout the season.

Employees in the Louisville market can be referred to the Clinic@Work at 502.479.4169 for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of their illness. If there are any questions regarding these recommendations, please do not hesitate to contact your local employee health office.