Program checks Kent Co. workers’ health as business resumes

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some of West Michigan’s top business leaders are heading up an effort to make sure employees returning to work are healthy — and tracking the spread of the coronavirus to avoid a bigger problem.

“We’ve learned to coexist with a lot of things in our past. We’re going to have to figure out how to coexist with this, too,” said Doug DeVos, Amway co-chair and a member of the public-private Kent County Back to Work Safely collaborative.

More than 150 local employers, including Amway, Meijer, Kent County and the city of Grand Rapids are part of Back To Work Safely.

Their plan does not involve testing for coronavirus. Instead, it’s a screening process to help employers and their workers gain the confidence they need to go back to work.

Under it, at each employee entrance, workers complete an online screening questionnaire about their health and possible exposure to COVID-19. If they pass, their temperature is checked. If that checks out, they can go back to work. The process takes less than 30 seconds.

The information collected is fed into a database.

‘We really want to stress (the information is archived) without identifying the name of any employee. We keep their personal information private,” said Dr. Norman Beauchamp Jr., the executive vice president for health sciences at Michigan State University.

Experts at the MSU College of Human Medicine are in charge of crunching the numbers and share what they have learned with both the employer and the Kent County Health Department.

“Which will use the data to monitor for potential outbreaks and hot spots,” Beauchamp explained.

That’s just one of the challenges being addressed as West Michigan slowly gets back to work amid continuing pandemic concerns. The other is making sure employers have a source for masks and other personal protection equipment. The Right Place Inc., the regional economic development agency, has developed a Personal Protection Equipment Directory to make that happen.

“West Michigan manufacturers that are producing personal protection equipment right here in West Michigan” are in that directory, said Tim Mroz, senior vice president for strategic initiatives at The Right Place.

The directory is aimed at manufacturers that aren’t big enough to access the global supply chain or small enough to buy off the shelf at a local retailers.

“If you have 50 employees, 100 employees and you need 3,000 units of masks or you need 5,000 gloves, those are really hard to buy right now,” Mroz said.

Kent County Back to Work Safely is currently exclusive to Kent County employers who register. Plans are in the works to expand it to other areas of West Michigan.

TRACKING CORONAVIRUS

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