10:39 AM

Attention All Leaders:

Rising Numbers Due to Omicron Variant Require Updated COVID-19 Guidance And We Need Your Help!

covid 7 days

Jan. 4, 2022

Dear Leaders,

Current Situation

With the arrival of the very contagious omicron variant, we have seen our COVID-19 positive cases for our patients and employees increase dramatically over the past few weeks. Currently, there are more than 120 employees out with COVID, and the vast majority are vaccinated.

 In our community, the percent positivity rate has risen to more than 30%, and with recent holiday gatherings, we expect the rising numbers to continue over the coming weeks. (Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram.) You can learn even more by watching this story with our own Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., Medical Director for Pediatric Infectious Diseases, which aired today on CBS This Morning, a national news program.

 Yesterday, our President & CEO Rick W. Merrill, other senior leaders, members of the Command Center, and our health care experts held several meetings to reevaluate how our system can minimize our risks as much as possible and continue to protect our patients, their families and our employees.

 Several decisions were made, and we need your help to communicate and reinforce the latest approved guidance, which applies to the entire health care system.

 Meetings, Gatherings and Remote Working

  • Whenever possible, all meetings should be hosted virtually at least through the month of January (and possibly longer, depending on our numbers). Yes, Zoom and Skype will continue to be our friends!
  • All social gatherings should stop immediately, i.e. birthday parties, baby showers, retirement celebrations, department potlucks, etc. Host a Zoom party instead!
  • Employees should not go out to eat lunch together or share a table together over a meal.
  • We are also noticing that many employees are gathering in Camelot Court and we ask that this stop for the time being.

Leaders, you are strongly encouraged to support and allow remote working for all employees and positions where it makes business and operational sense for them to work from home. You are empowered to make these decisions in tandem with your senior leaders, and you have our full support to do so.

 Masking and Social Distancing

  • Everyone at Cook Children’s should wear a mask at all times, even while working out in the Wellness Zone or walking outside. Exceptions include: 1) when you are eating; or 2) when you are alone in an enclosed area.
  • We need to go back to the basics for safety. Examples include:
  • Maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet);
  • Frequently and thoroughly washing your hands; and
  • Wearing your masks or proper PPE at all times.
  • You can help set an example and be a community role model, too! While you are away from work, please wear an FDA approved mask and follow the safety guidelines above.

 Outside Guests and Visitors to Any Cook Children’s Location

  • If you can meet with a vendor or job candidate virtually, please do so.
  • If you feel it is “business critical” to bring someone to any Cook Children’s location, please abide by the safety protocols listed above.
  •  We have had several recent situations where employees have brought their children to work with them. Please help remind your employees that they should not bring their children, other family members or friends to their work location. We want to keep the number of visitors to a minimum.

 Patient Visitor Policy Remains Unchanged and More

  • We will continue with our current visitation policy for patient families, which allows for two caregivers at the medical center and any two people for other locations.
  • We are continuing to follow the visitor exception policy detailed here.
  • We have no plans at this time to postpone or cancel any surgeries or procedures. 

 Keeping You Updated

We will continue to evaluate and monitor this ongoing and every evolving situation, and keep you updated as we know more. And you can always find the latest updates on our new Cook Children’s Connect Newsroom here.

As we close, there is some good news coming out of South Africa, where the omicron variant was first detected. The latest data suggests the rise and fall of this current wave lasts only weeks rather than months like previous COVID-19 waves. We hope this holds true here in North Texas.

Either way, we’ll get through this peak together just like we did the others.

We plan to send this message to all employees later today, and as you get questions from your employees, please become familiar with the latest FAQ and our processes and procedures on testing, exposures and quarantining detailed here

Thank you for all you are doing to fulfill Our Promise, and for leading your teams so they feel ready and supported to care for our patients, our families and each other.