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Monument Health employee dinged on attendance for staying home with COVD-19 symptoms

After being exposed by another employee, one worker said the health organization counted her isolation absence as an occurrence, unexpected time off.
Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 11:28 AM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Monument Health, one of the largest employers in Western South Dakota, is preparing its employees for surging COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.

The hospital is reporting 44 physicians and caregivers tested positive last week, with 167 caregivers being monitored for exposure.

Sharon LeFevre, a patient call center employee at Monument Health, said her COVID-19 exposure through work counted as an occurrence against her attendance record.

“I found out that I was getting an occurrence and that I was being punished. I had symptoms. I didn’t want to go back and expose anyone in my workplace,” said LeFevre.

After being exposed August 22 at work, LeFevre says she was told by the health organization to isolate at home pending her coronavirus test results.

On Monday, LeFevre tested negative for COVID-19, getting her results two days after exposure.

Three days after experiencing symptoms, she says the employee health doctor cleared her to return to work and didn’t want to retest her for COVID-19.

“The employee health doctor told me you can go back to work, we’re not going to retest you.”

Natalie Morris asks, “As you were feeling symptoms?”

“He knew I was experiencing symptoms,” LeFevre clarified.

With lingering symptoms and a 100.1 temperature, LeFevre says she returned to work Wednesday with an absence plated on her record, four days after her initial exposure.

“The public is unsuspecting. They’re going into the hospital and going into numerous facilities because they’re trusting Monument Health to keep them safe. But employees are afraid to report or underreport, there’s potentially higher exposure for the public,” said LeFevre.

Monument Health Chief Medical Officer, Brad Archer, capitalizing the words “STAY HOME” in a staff-wide email last week.

LeFevre said she wants to see a change where staff can speak up about symptoms without the fear of losing their job.

“They say they care about their employees and their community. Then show us,” said the LeFevre.

Monument Health released a statement yesterday, saying in part, “Monument Health directs all physicians and caregivers to stay home if they’re sick - this has always been the case, long before COVID-19... We understand that things happen that cause caregivers to be occasionally late or miss work due to unforeseen circumstances. Our attendance and punctuality policy provides ample flexibility for unexpected situations.”

In a statement, Robin Zebroski, Monument Health's Vice President of Strategic Marketing and...
In a statement, Robin Zebroski, Monument Health's Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications, said the 44 healthcare workers who tested positive this week "represents less than 1% of our workforce. This is not a critical situation at this time; however, we're doing all that we can to protect the health of our teams so that we can care for our communities."(KOTA)
Based on the recent influxes, Brad Archer, the chief medical officer, said the hospital needs...
Based on the recent influxes, Brad Archer, the chief medical officer, said the hospital needs to be prepared for a surge in cases in the next coming weeks.(KOTA)

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