SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sanford Health will check all employees' temperatures daily to watch for the coronavirus starting Wednesday, April 8.

All employees across the health system will get their temperature checked in a screening process upon arrival to work, wrote Darren Walker, chief human resources officer, and Dr. Allison Suttle, chief medical officer at the Sioux Falls-based health system, in a Tuesday email to supervisors.

The daily screening will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Sanford facilities.

Sanford Health has nearly 49,000 employees, with 44 medical centers and 200 Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society senior care facilities in 26 states. Its hospital and clinic footprint are centered in the upper Midwest, including South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.

Clinics and medical centers may have already implemented such a screen, but starting Wednesday, the check is mandatory for all Sanford facilities with a staff of 10 employees or more.

If an employee doesn't pass a temperature check of 100.4 degrees or higher, they will be asked to return home and call an Employee Health screening phone line for next steps.

Facilities with fewer than 10 employees will keep self-monitoring and call Employee Health if they experience symptoms.

"Sanford Health remains committed to safety as our country and our health system face the spread of COVID-19," Walker and Suttle wrote. "It is in that spirit that we are now implementing an employee temperature screening process as an additional measure to help keep our Sanford Family and patients healthy."

The temperature screening is the latest anti-coronavirus measure implemented by the health system. It had previously announced it was requiring all caregivers and providers to wear masks. On Tuesday it announced protection efforts either put in place or in the works have also included:

  • "Significantly increased" frequency of cleanings throughout the day, and nightly deep cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas
  • Floor tape in registration areas creating six feet of space between patients and visitors for social distancing
  • Plexiglas walls in registration areas between employees and patients and visitors
  • Daily coaching for staff members encouraging them to wash their hands, socially distance and wear masks "where allowed in direct care areas"
  • Sanford no longer requests payments or copays from patients at registration, but will accept them, although debit/credit card payment is encouraged
  • A range of other social distancing measures, including encouragement for patients to check-in online, and expanded virtual care options.