“Burnt out and stressed”: COVID-19 is afraid to stir up suspicion in the camp in Bethlehem

Worker at a Bethlehem The distribution center for medical-surgical care fears that the employees could spread COVID-19 and at least one worker who said she had the disease claims that top management should take more aggressive measures to prevent possible exposure.

A McKesson worker believes that she was tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed to another worker in mid-March, who was later diagnosed with coronavirus disease. The worker claimed that the company did not take the right precautions to prevent exposure in the approximately 500,000-square-foot building at 3769 Commerce Center Boulevard in Bethlehem.

Three other workers were interviewed by lehighvalleylive.com They believe that more employees were exposed to the one case that the company later confirmed in a meeting.

Her concerns and the reaction of senior management illustrate a scenario that has occurred in other camps in the Lehigh Valley in recent weeks that have remained operational during the pandemic.

“We had no idea, they (top management) never told us,” said an inventory worker about a possible exposure. “They weren’t transparent at all.”

Another worker in the same department agreed and said he was also in the dark.

“I think there are things they don’t say. Sure,” he said.

Lehighvalleylive.com granted anonymity to these workers because they said they feared that they would affect the pronunciation at work.

The company has rejected repeated requests from lehighvalleylive.com Provide information about the number of workers who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Out of respect for the privacy of our employees and their families during this difficult time, we will not make any further comments on a particular employee’s personal health issues,” said Sunny Rodriguez, senior manager for corporate public relations at McKesson.

She rejected workers’ claims that the distribution center had not taken adequate health and safety precautions. McKesson is determined to support his staff at the forefront, she said.

Kristen Wenrich, health director of Bethlehem, said the city’s health bureau contacted McKesson after complaints from employees to strengthen strategies to curb the spread of COVID-19. The company had taken several measures that complied with the federal guidelines.

According to the workers interviewed, five shifts are in operation in the warehouse and more than 100 employees can gather when certain shifts overlap. In break rooms, only two people are supposed to eat per table, but the employees push several chairs together to make contacts in larger groups. The extensive warehouse employs more than 300 people. It was opened last August on the former land of Bethlehem Steel Corp. opened on the border with Hellertown.

A key employee at the McKesson Distribution Center warehouse department said that on March 13, rumors surfaced that an employee may have tested positive for COVID-19. The worker claimed that a positive diagnosis was confirmed by senior management at the meeting on March 26. The estimated 20 staff at the meeting were given the positive test and said that the warehouse had been renovated and everything was fine, he said.

After the meeting, it was as usual, the worker said. However, he could not concentrate. The news didn’t go well with him and some of his staff, he said.

“We went back in to discuss something else – they downplayed it. They kept saying: “Nobody came into contact with it. Nobody was infected. Those around you have already been contacted, ”he said.

A regional manager who hosted a second meeting on March 31 also said that those who came into contact with the infected employee had already been notified, according to another employee. When asked by employees whether someone else in the warehouse tested positive for COVID-19, the regional manager told the group that the company was not free to say so, the employee said.

Hand disinfectants and gloves are available in all departments and masks were distributed by the company on March 6, employees said. After the meeting on March 31, senior management began sticking a directional tape across the camp to better promote social distancing. Signs were placed in the toilets instructing staff that only three people were allowed access at a time.

Earlier this month, employees were informed by email, SMS, or phone call that the facility had been closed due to thorough cleaning. Everyone was instructed by senior management not to come to work this Friday, but additional workers would be needed on Saturday April 4th. Workers would be paid for the eight hours of lost time and an additional $ 100 if employees returned on Saturday.

Rodriguez confirmed that the distribution center was closed on April 3 due to extensive cleaning and disinfection of the facility. She called the action a “precaution” because McKesson continues to take steps to keep its employees healthy. The facility returned to normal hours of operation on April 6, Rodriguez said.

In addition to providing better access to disinfectants, disinfectant wipes and masks, management reminded employees to wash or disinfect their hands before touching their faces. There is an ongoing practice of social distancing. Disinfectant cleaning during the day with multiple cleanings in high-traffic areas; and employees are asked to measure their temperatures before they get to work, Rodriguez said.

The employees said that top management asked them to measure their own temperatures an hour before the shift began, but there is no way to know if the person is honest. It’s on the honor system, an employee said last week.

Rebecca Wang, assistant professor of marketing at the College of Business at Lehigh University, is studying e-commerce and stressed that warehouse managers should think about ways to practice social distancing as much as possible. She said you should ask yourself questions, how is there a way to change the workflow or postpone the work schedules of employees? Is it possible to change where inventory is stored or packaged?

“And, of course, managers should set crystal-clear guidelines for typical protections where no details are too small,” she said, citing covers and gloves as an example, with body temperature checked daily and thoroughly, washing hands with soap.

Before the corona virus broke out, McKesson employees said they were already working overtime and long shifts to keep up with demand. Now employees can work more than 50 to 60 hours a week to meet the increased need for medical care following the pandemic, the employees said.

“We were burned out before this outbreak,” said an inventory worker. “Now we’re burned out and stressed out.”

“We keep hearing different things during the shift,” said the senior inventory worker. “In my shift, almost half of the people are already gone – other shifts are more than half left. They are now like a skeleton crew.”

“Half of us freaked out and half of us said,” Yes, we are probably already sick, “said another inventory worker.

The warehouse is considered essential as the company supplies health supplies and medicines. Governor Tom Wolf ordered all non-life support companies in Pennsylvania on March 19 to close their doors and to extend this order indefinitely in the past few weeks.

“We are all focused on the health and well-being of our families, and we want to do everything we can to continue to support the frontline and pressurized healthcare community in treating the increasing number of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 “Said Rodriguez of McKesson.

She described employees as a critical role in ensuring that healthcare and the patients who need it in this critical time are provided with medical care and medication, and added that the employee has additional medical benefits, emergency leave, and additional compensation get pandemic.

Employees say that those who work in the warehouse received a one-time bonus of $ 1,000 last month. While the money is good, they say that workers are still afraid to get to work and wonder if the paycheck is worth risking their health.

An employee who had been in the replenishment department since August and a father of three children said that their employment did not outweigh the health risks. He said he was at the meeting where senior management confirmed a case of COVID-19 in the camp. I asked, ‘Did you all shut down? Is there anything to worry about? “He recalled.” I felt very uncomfortable. “

When the employee returned to his work area, he said that he could not get rid of the uncomfortable feeling. He started questioning superiors and was asked to “get tough” and “if you don’t like it, stop it,” he said.

This employee said he called the human resources department on March 27 to complain. A written complaint followed, in which the employee said he was concerned about his health and felt that the camp was unsafe and endangered life. Since then, he has been granted an emergency PTO.

“At this point, I decide that I will not return and I will take care of it as soon as possible,” he said. “I am not endangering my health.”

The McKesson workers they spoke to lehigvalleylive.com These complaints were also filed online with the United States’s Occupational Safety and Health Agency. An OSHA representative did not immediately return an information request.

Dennis Hower, President of Teamsters Local 773, told lehighvalleylive.com that his union doesn’t represent McKesson employees. In general, he said, union workers who work in camps are asked to take individual, reasonable precautions to further protect themselves. This includes wiping areas with disinfectant wipes, constantly washing hands and wearing a mask. The Hower union distributed 10,000 masks to all of the workers it represented.

Social distance – especially in the break rooms – is a must, he said. Temperature testing before the start of the shift might be a good idea, but it can negate the purpose of social distancing if too many employees wait for turns, he said.

Hower also encourages employees to develop creative ideas that go outside the box. A particularly smart worker, he found, supplemented the existing measures by suggesting to his company that he use a large insect spray and fill it with an artificial disinfectant spray.

“This is an unprecedented area, which means that all hands are on deck,” said Hower. “It’s about taking personal responsibility. There is no doubt that this is a scary thing – this virus is very contagious and deadly.”

Hower recognizes that not every break room can limit the number of people who move around in it. Sometimes it took several workers to carry something heavy from a shelf where the workers weren’t three feet apart.

“But these should be exceptions – not the rules,” he said.

One of her college research studies, Lehighs Wang said, concluded that patrons preferred robotic services over human services during a pandemic. That said, tech-savvy companies need to further optimize their workflow by replacing some standardizable processes with artificial intelligence to reduce the workload and the burden on people, she said.

“In addition to being able to take care of employees, A.I.’s strategy may even be preferred by customers,” added Wang.

McKesson employees are not alone in their fear of becoming infected with the novel corona virus during warehouse work.

At the larger, 1.2 million-square-meter Walmart e-commerce distribution center at 3215 Commerce Center Blvd. In Bethlehem earlier this month, workers said at least nine people tested positive for COVID-19. Several there accused the retail giant not take reasonable steps to protect them from the novel virus.

Walmart operates another e-commerce fulfillment center near the McKesson distribution center at 2785 Commerce Center Blvd. in the Lehigh Valley VII industrial park. It remains open and lehighvalleylive.com knows no cases in this facility.

Pamela Sroka-Holzmann can be reached at pholzmann@lehighvalleylive.com. If anything about this story requires attention, please email it. Follow her on Twitter @ Pamholzmann. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

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 Published this amazing Article On 2020-04-19 12:14:25 at www.lehighvalleylive.com.

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