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Covid-19 (Coronavirus): For information related to COVID-19, visit vcuhealth.org/covid-19. For information specific to children and families, visit Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

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New workplace guide aims to help local businesses find answers fast to reopen, and stay open, safely

Experts in infection prevention, government and business have developed a new resource guide that connects business leaders with answers to most frequently asked questions to operate their business safely during COVID-19.

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Safety is everybody’s priority, but understanding the requirements for business owners to reopen safely, and stay open during COVID-19, takes time. Experts from VCU Health System and the Health Innovation Consortium teamed up with Henrico County and Richmond City Health Districts to create “Healthy Workplace,” an online resource guide that connect business leaders with the right information quickly to comply with Virginia’s workplace safety standards.

Melinda Hancock, chief financial and administrative officer at VCU Health System, explains the benefits of “Healthy Workplace” for business leaders.

Who is the “Healthy Workplace” initiative for?

It is for business owners, but other institutions like schools, houses of worship or civic organizations can also gain valuable insight. Many of these businesses need to meet the new Emergency Temporary Standards that the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) released to improve workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new standards require businesses to have an infectious disease preparedness and response plan in place by Sept. 25.

How is this resource different from existing resources?

Our tool is a complement to already existing, robust resources from the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We designed our “Healthy Workplace” resource around business leaders’ most frequently asked questions around reopening and safety, and provides direct links to the specific guidance from trusted, local experts. In other words — we added the bookmarks to existing, more robust resources, pointing local businesses to the most relevant information quickly.

We also cover guidelines specific to Virginia businesses and explain key infection prevention topics that business owners may not be as familiar with, such as COVID-19 testing definitions.

What are you hoping to accomplish?

We hope this tool saves business owners time and increases their confidence in reopening and staying open safely as they develop and execute their plans.

As a health system, we deeply care about the health and well-being of our communities. That means personal health, but also economic health. Businesses fuel our communities. Infection prevention involves everybody, and businesses play a vital role. If we can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help local businesses navigate the pandemic’s impact on their operations, we all benefit.

Who came together to create this resource?

Healthy Workplace” is a collaboration between the infection prevention experts from VCU Health, the Henrico County and Richmond City offices of the Virginia Department of Health, and the Health Innovation Consortium, a collective of health care advocates established by VCU Health System.

We agreed early on that we did not want to recreate any content, but help business leaders find existing content more quickly. It can be intimidating to navigate hundreds of resources when you are looking for the answer to a specific question.

As a health system, our business has stayed open throughout the pandemic, and we have been on the frontlines of infection prevention for months. We wanted to share our expertise and experience with other local leaders so they could reopen with confidence.

How do you think this tool will evolve, looking ahead at flu season and a potential resurgence of COVID-19? 

We know that infection prevention guidelines for businesses will evolve as we learn more about COVID-19. The rate of new infections and hospitalizations will also influence local and state guidelines on what businesses can and can’t do.

Our goal for “Healthy Workplace” is to always connect business owners to the most relevant-to-them information quickly. While the specific guidelines may change, the need for reliable answers in a timely manner does not. We will continue to update the site as more information becomes available.