TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – In late July, President Biden gave the 31st Act.
This inclusion will open doors to the millions who struggle to get back to their daily routine while grappling with Long Haul COVID-19.
Many of these Americans are trying to find ways to get back to work. Company health packages have been one size fits all for decades. But some business experts are now saying that long haul companies might be the ones forcing companies to do a major overhaul when it comes to benefits.
Over the past 20 years, Tallahassee resident Tony Hartley has spent most of his time overseeing the repair work at Marpan Recycling in Tallahassee.
“I’ve been working since I was 12 years old, so there’s not much I can do other than get up, go to work, come home and look after my family,” said Tony.
But in July 2020, a COVID-19 diagnosis turned Hartley’s life upside down.
“I couldn’t breathe, my oxygen levels were low, and I just wanted to sleep,” Hartley said.
Hartley’s wife called an ambulance. He said his next memory would be waking up days later in the COVID-19 unit at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.
“I don’t think I saw anyone get that bad and actually survive,” said Dr. Shawn Akhavan treating Hartley.
But Hartley survived. He spent a total of 44 intensive days in the hospital.
“I want to go home. That was my whole ordeal from the time I went in there. I want to go home. I want to get out of here,” Hartley said.
Hartley wanted to go back to work too, but his body wasn’t quite finished.
“Can’t walk. Not being able to get out of bed, not being able to take care of yourself, is a very humbling experience, ”said Hartley.
Sitting still is not Hartley’s style.
During his recovery, Hartley’s boss Kim Williams would assign him tasks based on his perseverance.
“He’s very helpful if he just knows where things are and how to fix or build them so he can do a lot on the phone and work from home. Everyone else was working from home, why couldn’t Tony? ”Williams said.
It is this kind of employer flexibility that, according to Darren Brooks of FSU’s Center for HR Management, is essential for companies with long-term employees.
“We have the technology and infrastructure that will allow us to make certain customizations that we couldn’t make a decade ago,” said Brooks.
Hartley returned to Marpan within a month of leaving the hospital.
“As soon as he was where he could return, he did it. And Larry Lassiter and I bought him a portable oxygen device so he could walk a bit tall and move around more easily, ”Williams said.
Hartley bosses, who now affectionately call Tony “Superman,” continue to provide shelter so their “Man of Steel” can continue to heal.
A year later, Hartley is still dealing with memory and stamina problems. His story is just one example of how companies can help their employees deal with Long Covid.
Brooks said that it will be really important for long-haul vans to speak to their bosses and HR to see if they fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act or even the Family Medical Leave Act for help.
Right now, long-haul airmen are lobbying Congress and working to make FMLA a paid service.
Under current law, there is 12 weeks of unpaid work leave if you are entitled to it.
When the pandemic started, the government created the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
This gave paid sick leave for those recovering or caring for someone with COVID-19.
However, this benefit expired at the end of 2020. In April 2021, President Biden unveiled his American Families Plan. The plan provides for paid parental, family and sick leave work. On the same day, the Biden administration also revealed guidance and resources for those dealing with Long COVID.
The links to these resources are as follows:
U.S. Department of Health / Civil Rights Bureau https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/civil-rights-covid19/guidance-long-covid-disability/index.html
US Department of Justice https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/doj-and-hhs-issue-guidance-long-covid-and-disability-rights-under-ada-section-504-and-section
U.S. Department of Education https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus
US Department of Labor https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/topics/coronavirus-covid-19-long-covid
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