As positive COVID-19 cases in Alachua County hit 122 and the Florida total climbed past 12,000, UF Health Shands has notified personnel that all hands on deck are needed and that no employee should plan to use sick leave or vacation days to travel and work out of state.
“Given anticipated staffing needs as well as the 14-day self-isolation requirements related to travel from certain states we cannot support employees using leave/vacation time to work or volunteer out of state.”
--UF Health Shands CEO Ed Jimenez
In a notice sent out on April 2, UF Health Shands CEO Ed Jimenez announced, "All of our faculty and staff are considered essential personnel and will be expected to report to work when needed, and some may need to be redeployed to other areas in a surge situation.
“We continue to monitor the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Alachua County and across Florida daily to ensure proper preparations,” the notice reads.
“We have been working diligently throughout our health system to finalize our surge plans to deal with a significant number of patients with COVID-19 at some point in the near future.
The notice recognized that while surges in cases are happening in places such as New York City that it is, “critically important that we have adequate staffing levels to care for our patients as we prepare our health system to respond to unprecedented pressures and demands. Additionally, some members of our workforce may become ill and unable to work, and we need to plan accordingly.”
Currently, FEMA has deployed nurses to New York from other parts of the U.S. including nurses from Gainesville who, upon returning, will need to self-quarantine for two weeks before they can work local hospitals.
“Given anticipated staffing needs as well as the 14-day self-isolation requirements related to travel from certain states,” Jimenez states, “We cannot support employees using leave/vacation time to work or volunteer out of state.”
Nurses already working in New York on the frontlines before the notice went out say they received permission from their employer to go and that they plan to help out at local hospitals upon return using what they are learning while fighting the pandemic at its epicenter.
The notice reminds employees that it is company policy “that outside activities be disclosed.”
“We appreciate the admirable intentions of some wanting to assist others in times of significant challenges but we all made a commitment to be here for our patients when they need us,” states the notice signed by Jimenez and Interim Dean of UF College of Medicine Joseph A. Tyndall, M.D.
“We appreciate your understanding and support during this difficult time.”