COVID-19

Alternative Work Assignments Update (November 20, 2020)
The following was agreed to between OSUNO and OSU as of November 18, 2020 and is now in effect.

Alternative Work Assignments

In the event of a declared emergency, natural disaster or pandemic, nurses may be asked to assume alternative work assignments in order to meet patient care needs.  Alternative work assignments should not reduce unit staffing below what is necessary for patient care. In the event alternative work assignments result in a unit being staffed below usual levels, it is understood that all parties will be understanding of the increased workload faced by nurses.

An alternative work assignment is a work agreement between the unit manager/designee and a nurse that may include modifications to a work schedule, work location, and other arrangements that differ from a unit/department’s usual standards and practices. Leadership will make every effort to provide consistent work assignments on a weekly basis and communicate timelines for redeployment as far in advance as possible. Nurse managers will work collaboratively with nurses to ensure they have the requisite skills and training to perform the tasks required in the alternative work assignment.  No nurse shall be required to accept an alternate work assignment without first having or receiving the appropriate skills or training.

Nurses in different practice areas have different skills and abilities and alternative work assignments will vary based on the nurse’s area of practice and expertise. Nurse managers may reallocate nurses into departments or positions that have a need for additional personnel support in which the nurse has the requisite skills and competencies.  Every reasonable effort will be made to minimize impact on the nurses (same hours/shift, schedule, similar practice environment, scope of work is nursing). Nursing leadership will communicate the assignment, length, and rationale.   In the event of a pandemic, nurses who are at high-risk should be accommodated appropriately to mitigate risk. Additionally, nurses who have high-risk family members at home should be accommodated appropriately to mitigate risk.

Alternative work assignments shall be offered in the following order:

  1. Positions needed to maintain operations in the home department should be offered to those by seniority
  2. Volunteers should be sought based on skill set/preference and granted by seniority
  3. Nurses placed in appropriate roles by order of seniority

Alternative work assignments may include:

  • Working in a nursing unit outside of their home unit that has patient care needs
  • Working in other areas of hospital operations where clinical skills could be utilized (i.e. Call Center, supporting Employee Health, etc.)
  • Education (CBLs, specialty-based competencies)
  • Unit based needs (quality audits)

When alternative work assignments end and more than one nurse is performing the same alternative work assignment in the same area, the order of return shall be as follows:

  1. Nurses necessary to return the home unit to usual staffing levels.
  2. Volunteers granted in order of seniority
  3. Nurses returned in order of inverse seniority.

Alternative work assignments performed outside of the nurse’s normal cost center or job function will qualify for the float differential in Article 14, Section 8 of the collective bargaining agreement.


Incentive Pay & Ill Time Update (November 20, 2020)

OSUNO and OSUWMC leadership have come to an agreement to allow nurses who are any form of approved leave in lieu of regular hours to be eligible to receive incentive pay.

This means that if a nurse calls off pursuant to the call-off procedure and is approved for use of benefit time they are eligible for incentive pay.

This agreement is in effect from November 8, 2020 to at least January 2, 2021 and may be extended by mutual agreement.

What the CDC says about working sick: "Encourage sick employees to stay home. Personnel who develop respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) should be instructed not to report to work. Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies."

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/steps-to-prepare.html


Update (November 5, 2020)

OSU has confirmed that PPE supplies are generally good and that they are no longer distributing resterilized N-95 masks (however, they are still stockpiling them just in case).


OSUNO Primetime Vacation Update (May 13, 2020)

Governor’s Stay Safe Order and Out of State Vacation

The most current Governor’s Order allows for out of state travel but requires that anyone who leaves the state for vacation and returns is required to quarantine for fourteen (14) days. OSUNO has confirmed that OSU received this interpretation directly from Columbus Public Health. OSU has shared that they will comply with the Governor’s Order and require nurses who travel out of state to quarantine for fourteen (14) days.

 

OSU’s Position on Quarantine Following Out of State Vacation

In the May 12 Daily Operations email, Dr. Paz stated that any nurse who is subject to quarantine can use vacation or take unpaid time.  Contrary to that, Human Resources stated later that day that nurses would be required to use vacation before being able to use unpaid leave.  OSUNO was not given any advance notice of this, has not bargained over this change, and does not agree to this change. We believe the following applies per contract:

  1. Article 17, Section 2e on page 29 of the contract allows for sick leave usage if the nurse’s presence on the job would jeopardize the health of others, so we believe nurses are allowed to use sick leave for quarantine under the existing contract.
  2. A nurse who is forced to quarantine should be allowed to use sick time. Per article 17, Section 5: if you’re out of sick time you may choose to use vacation or comp time, or take the time unpaid at your discretion.

 

OSUNO’s Position on 2020 Primetime Vacation Season  

Our Board has developed two additional principles governing how we believe nurses should be treated as we move through the summer 2020 vacation season:

  1. Existing, approved vacation requests should be honored and cannot be canceled arbitrarily or unilaterally. There is no provision in our contract or existing practice that allows this.
  2. In the event a unit is short-staffed due to quarantine of staff, the Medical Center should fully and creatively utilize overtime and incentive pay under the contract to make sure units are safely staffed.

 

Working Together to Get Vacation

The OSUNO Board is proud of and grateful to our members who have stepped up to take care of each other and our patients during COVID. We know that nurses need a break even more than usual.  However, because of the Governor’s Order and the circumstances that are affecting us all, we encourage all of our members to work together on each unit in order to make sure that the greatest number of nurses can take the greatest possible amount of vacation time.

 

Vacation Accrual Cap Extended

Every nurse whose service anniversary date falls between March 22, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will have until their 2021 service anniversary date to use any vacation that accrues over the maximum carryover.  However, if a nurse resigns and has accrued vacation over the cap, the maximum payout for vacation remains two hundred forty (240) hours.



OSUNO Files Complaint with OSHA and PERRP Over Lack of PPE and Related Issues
(April 28, 2020)

Click here for a copy of the complaint letter.  The primary issues in the complaint are:

  • Lack of N95s for nurses dealing with COVID patients leading to staff contracting COVID
  • Removing N95s from James Comprehensive Cancer Hospital Clinics
  • Lack of eye protection 
  • Lack of sufficient fit testing

OSUNO Encourages All Nurses to File ADOs Related to COVID

Every day our union hears from nurses who are concerned that the conditions under which the nurse is working are subpar or even unsafe.   It is critically important that nurses file ADOs when these things happen to make sure there is a record and so we can address it. Unfortunately, we know from experience that OSU upper management is likely to pretend there was no problem if it was not documented.  If you or your unit is experiencing any of the following, please file an ADO:

  • Insufficient PPE (either amount or type)
  • Bad nurse to patient ratio
  • No EVS / PCA help
  • Insufficient training / orientation

The ADO form, which has a lot more detail, can be found at osuno.com/ado.  If you file an ADO, please make sure and send a copy to your OSUNO Board member and/or Labor Rep (see osuno.com/board)

 

Nurses Who Contract COVID-19 May Be Eligible for Worker’s Compensation

OSUNO strongly recommends that all employees who contract COVID-19 file worker’s compensation claims.

The Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC) has traditionally not considered communicable diseases such as COVID-19 to be compensable claims. However, if an employee works in a job that poses a special hazard or risk of COVID-19 exposure, and the employee contracts COVID-19 from such exposure, the BWC may allow the exposure claim. First responders, medical workers, and numerous other essential employees working in public spaces are likely in greater risk of being exposed to or contracting COVID-19 than the rest of the population. As such, they may have a compensable claim if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 and demonstrate a causal link between their employment and the illness.

An employee contracting COVID-19 after being exposed to it in the course of employment likely constitutes a physical injury and/or occupational disease. Therefore, that employee’s post-exposure testing and treatment of COVID-19 may be covered by the BWC, although the BWC has not explicitly made that statement.

For more information on Worker’s Comp and COVID, see this BWC FAQ.

Unemployment and High Risk

Unemployment has also seen a big change in regulation related to COVID-19. A nurse who is in a high-risk category and is concerned they will be exposed to COVID-19 by coming to the Medical Center, and who is not able to telework and for whom there are not accommodations may qualify for unemployment. Any nurse in this situation should be prepared to get a provider’s note advising them to self-quarantine and be able to provide documentation of the high-risk condition.

Nurses who have seen a partial or complete reduction in your usual number of weekly paid hours (such as IRP nurses) due to COVID should also consider unemployment based on their individual circumstances.  For more information on Ohio unemployment, visit the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services website.



Redeployment Float Pay Program (April 24, 2020)
 
  • Eligible nurses are*: Redeployed from home department to provide direct patient care on a nursing unit
    • Redeployed to Temperature Screening, Swabbing Stations, COVID Call Center or Employee Health Services (not as a medical accommodation)
  • Effective starting 4/12/20, with no retro prior
  • Same rate as Float Pay per contract $2.50/hour
  • Only applicable through COVID crisis period
 
Ineligible for Float Pay
  • Inpatient units moved to new space with intact unit patients and staff
  • Training/Educational/Orientation work for new inpatient nursing redeployment
  • Reassigned to new unit as an accommodation due to a medical restriction (includes redeployment to units listed as eligible)
 
*for any unforeseen scenarios that relate to this agreement the parties will bargain over them


OSUNO-OSU Agreement Regarding Temporary
Reassignment (March 17)

By mutual agreement of the parties to the following terms are effective immediately (March 17) subject to change by mutual agreement:

  • For all members affected by the reduction in elective procedures/appointments related to COVID-19, we are proposing the following order for alternative work assignments:
    1. Nurses who are at high-risk should be accommodated appropriately to mitigate risk
    2. Nurses who have high-risk people at home should be accommodated appropriately to mitigate risk
    3. Positions needed to maintain operations in the home department should be offered to those by seniority
    4. Volunteers should be sought based on skill set/preference and granted by seniority
    5. Nurses placed in appropriate roles by order of seniority
  • All COVID-19 related cancellation of hours will count towards the 3 MTO occurrences

Note: This language applies to all nurses, including clinic / outpatient / procedural areas that may have reduced work in the immediate future.

Available Resources

OSUWMC N95 and Procedure Mask Reuse Guidance Sheet
CDC Guide to Donning and Doffing PPE
ODH Testing Algorithm (as of March 7)
ODH Testing Procedures (as of March 7)
ODH Health Alert (as of March 7)

Resources Pages
American Federation of Teachers
Ohio Nurses Association
Ohio Department of Health
Center for Disease Control
OSUWMC