Sonoma County Health Service Employees Order to Return to Workplace Affected by COVID

Unions say there is no solution to the possibility of remote employment.

“I don’t see why he couldn’t continue working,” said Paul Foster, a Health Services accountant and head of Local 1021. “We were able to close the end of the event in July 2021. Actually, this last year has been a rough one. But we were able to. ”

Under Rivera’s directive, employees were allowed to apply for full-time remote work. Another discussion turned into a bone. Some employees asked their managers to work from home. (Rivera said the number was “10+.”) He acknowledged that all requests were denied.

“For exceptions to the formal requests for medical health care, they (the Human Resources Department of Health Services) would go and follow the usual practices and procedures for County Medical Medical Accommodation,” County County spokesman Matt Brown wrote. in an email. “The county was unable to comment on the condition of those seeking medical care because it was protected information.

Exposure notes are assembled

Prosecutors were also outraged by what they perceived as a lax protection of COVID on Neotomas Avenue, the headquarters of the Health Services Administration.

When they first returned, no one had to wear a mask; that order arrived a few days later. There was no additional system of social exclusion. And the air conditioning unit temporarily stopped circulation several times. Suddenly, someone opened the doors to the outer courtyard of the rest room and opened two interior doors with floor fans to increase airflow.

“There were no county facilities under the command of the mask … however, the mask’s recommendations have always been there,” Rivera said when asked for comments on those complaints. “Our building’s filtration system looked at county hazards (managers) and assessed the additional improvements needed to meet the appropriate air quality standards for smoke and COVID regulations. It was purchased and installed if additional equipment was needed.

However, the COVID exposure notifications were personally returned to work and arrived within a few days – May 16th, June 2nd, June 3rd and last Wednesday.

As of Thursday, eight employees of the Health Service of the Neotomas office were out due to symptoms or exposure to coronavirus. Those who knew they were in a close relationship with an infected colleague were told they should not be quarantined, as confirmed in a staff statement shared with The Press Democrat.

Relatives at risk

Many workers said their situation had changed during the pandemic, and it was not easy for them to return to their local work quickly. For some, this was related to the most vulnerable relatives.

“When we returned to the office, I was left with a family member who works as a caregiver with an elderly patient, and another family member who is immune to many underlying health conditions,” a prosecutor said when asked. the name has not been used for fear of revenge. “I didn’t feel safe when we started receiving exposure notifications.”

For Foster, the abandonment of distance work had an immediate impact on his family.

“I’m sitting in the hospital right now because they called me to the office,” he said Tuesday.

Foster’s father, who turned 84 in May, lived with him during the pandemic. When Health Services staff returned to the office three days a week, Foster said he could no longer make sure his father was eating well and was safe. Her sister in Roseville agreed to take him.

“But he came to Santa Rosa and was under the influence of COVID,” Foster said. “If I didn’t have to work, he would be at home with me.”

Foster’s father was released from hospital on Tuesday.

The morale of Neotomas is low, staff say. And attendance as well. On June 2, Joly sent a message that there were 16 people in the tax department, according to his number – about half of the staff. He sent a message on Tuesday saying there were at least 12 people.

“We have six accountants,” Foster said. “Yesterday, I think I was the only one.”

“An extra thing” for companies

The Health Service is far from being the only workplace that has to carry out risk assessments related to viruses. The county’s epidemiological team is currently investigating 18 reports of 18 possible outbreaks, including in food and retail stores, manufacturing sites and wineries, said Brown, a county spokesman..

Although companies in Sonoma County do not see a severe shortage of workers in the first wave of Omicron in early January, the shortage persists, said Peter Rumble, director general of the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber. This is not entirely due to COVID.

“This is like an extra thing that makes it more challenging,” Rumble said. “It’s just that we can’t fill a few positions. And in addition to the positions I have, we have to work outside of time due to illness.”

It’s all a difficult calculation for business executives: when is it safe to meet in an office, and which jobs are the most beneficial interaction to face? Rumble is generally in favor of opening as much as possible.

“The CDC is telling us that this is endemic now,” he said. “And today’s infection doesn’t mean the same thing as in March 2020. If they tell us the highest medical authority, and they’re saying this is endemic, then we need to start living our lives as if they were endemic. That means taking our vaccines and living with them. we have to keep going. “

Rivera has ruled that the order to return to work is temporary. The assumption is that it will be in effect until July 31, at the end of the fiscal year book balance sheet. After Wednesday’s meeting, Jana Blunt – president of SEIU Local 1021 and a staff member of the Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Electoral Register – has doubts.

“He couldn’t provide the planned date, but our deduction is that there won’t be a time in the future where Ms. Rivera thinks the telework will be suitable for employees again, whether the deciding factor is a delay in work,” Blunt said.

Rivera did not offer a firm timeline in his exchanges with The Press Democrat.

“We can’t have a program without stable infrastructure and funding,” he said. “There are times when temporary measures are needed to address issues of high concern. This is one of those times. ”

You can contact Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or [email protected] @Skinny_Post on Twitter.

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