Cough, cough, wheeze, wheeze ... flu season is in full swing and many states are reaching epidemic levels. But there’s no need to panic. You can protect your veterinary practice from a flu outbreak and decreased productivity. Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer, medical director of Loyola University Health System Occupational Health Services, offers advice for how businesses can respond to the flu.
1. Communicate your policy on attendance when sick. Make sure employees are aware of the practice’s attendance policy and identify a point person for questions. Give examples to illustrate when employees should stay home due to sickness.
2. Prepare for unexpected absences. It’s possible that schools and day cares could close due to illness, forcing parents to leave work to care for their children. Sick employees also should be sent home to avert spreading the infection. This may cause staffing problems. Be sure you have a plan in place to meet staffing needs in such cases.
3. Good housekeeping equals good health. Regular surface cleaning minimizes germ exposure. Eliminate clutter on counters, especially around sinks and food preparation areas, to ease the job of wiping down these often germ-filled areas and promote quick drying.
4. Focus your practice’s culture on health. This includes having a prevention program that offers annual flu shots, informs employees about ways to stay healthy and what to do to avoid infectious illness. Also, find prominent places to hang posters that remind people to wash their hands before meals, after sneezing or coughing, and when moving between tasks.