7/31/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Reinvent IDHS, Restore Illinois Update

Friday, July 31, 2020

Dear colleagues:

In the past weeks, I have shared work being done across IDHS to adapt to our "new normal" in the wake of COVID-19 by both reinventing what we do and restoring IDHS services to ensure our customers can meet their needs. Today, I want to share more specific information about how we plan to sustain our work in the months to come.

The goal of our Return to Worksite strategy is to enable remote work for as many as possible while assuring those who must return on site -- to provide services to customers and to enable long-term productivity -- have the resources they need to return safely. To that end, we have prepared local offices and administrative locations to enable limited staff to return to the worksite on a rotating basis.

A number of FCRC local office staff have returned to their worksites and are working, onsite, with customers starting this week. The vast majority of customer needs are handled at the door, with the customer never having to enter the building. In addition, many programmatic and administrative employees are coming in, on occasion, on a part-time, or on a full-time basis. Division directors and managers are identifying additional programmatic and administrative staff who need access to the worksite to complete their job functions and we anticipate the ability for these employees to return on a rotating basis, starting August 17.

I want to emphasize that our plans have been thoughtfully developed with your safety in mind. We encourage you to visit our Reinvent IDHS, Restore Illinois OneNet page for detailed information about available resources and protocols that have been put in place to minimize COVID-19 risks at the worksite.

For those who have returned or will return to the worksite, I can assure you that there is a plentiful supply of:

  • Surgical Masks (if you do not have your own face covering),
  • Hand sanitizer gallon bottles,
  • Gloves,
  • Painters tape and caution tape, and
  • Disinfectant spray and wipes.

In addition, all employees returning to the worksite will receive a Welcome Back PPE kit which includes a mask, wipes, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.

To ensure your safety, we have worked to redesign our office setting to meet CMS, CDC, and IDPH recommendations. As a result, your offices may look different to you as you return.

The precautions that are now in place include the following:

  • A social distancing formula for each office,
  • An employee self-screening process,
  • Modified sign-in, sign-out procedures to reduce unnecessary exposure,
  • Signage for all affected areas such as elevators, stairwells, breakrooms, and conference rooms,
  • Restroom and common space protocols to limit capacity and usage (i.e. Restricted bathroom stalls, limited breakroom seating), and
  • Local Site Administrative Leads who can help coordinate social distancing in shared spaces across divisions and departments and who can ensure proper signage and PPE supply inventory.

Your safety is our priority, and we will continue to assess what is needed for all our offices as we Reinvent IDHS and Restore Illinois.

Thank you for your continued patience and hard work. At IDHS, we are all in this together. We will conduct our work with empathy and respect for our colleagues' safety, so that we can ensure that our services are available to all Illinoisans at this critical time.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS