Counseling sessions, PTSD resiliency for DRT employees

Dr. Carrie Elk is returning to Del Rio Sector to follow up on previous consultations and to give presentations to and meet with other employees who are interested in speaking with her.

She provides group and individual consults with employees, generally focusing on psychological trauma, but is also available for other matters, including training on PTSD resiliency and coping skills.

Del Rio Sector has published the below schedule and sent information to the stations, along with a link to schedule an appointment. However, if you haven’t seen the email, check with your supervisor or contact DRT’s Training & Traumatic Incident Management Branch (TTIMB) for more information.

Please note that all discussions with Dr. Elk are strictly confidential.

Del Rio Sector Family Wellness Day

On February 17, 2023, from 10 am to 3 pm, Del Rio Sector HQ is hosting a family wellness day for employees and their families. Employees and their spouses are encouraged to stop by to visit with healthcare providers from throughout Del Rio Sector, federal health insurance providers, and other organizations from the surrounding area focused on veterans’ support services, general health and well-being, and other services that benefit Del Rio Sector employees.

Employees may attend while on duty but must receive approval from and coordinate with their supervisor.

For those who do not live or work near Del Rio Sector HQ, the agency plans to hold a similar event in Eagle Pass in the future to allow even more employees and their families to attend.

Notice of membership meeting – February 2023

Wednesday, February 1, 2023
7:00 pm

City of Eagle Pass International Center for Trade
West Room
3295 Bob Rogers Dr.
Eagle Pass, Texas 78852

(across the street from Fort Duncan Regional Medical Center)

Topics will include:

New pursuit policy
Additions to grooming/uniform standards
Future changes to compassionate/spousal transfer policies
NBPC Convention/AFGE caucus delegates
COVID-related OWCP changes
New mental health guidance and efforts
Grievance/arbitration updates

Notice of NBPC National Convention and AFGE District 10 Caucus

During this regularly scheduled meeting on the date/time and at the address above, members will be asked to determine if Local 2366 will participate in the NBPC National Convention and AFGE District 10 Caucus scheduled this year and, if so, the number of additional delegates, if any, they want to represent Local 2366, if the delegates will carry all votes, and if travel expenses will be authorized.

Local 2366’s six elected Executive Board Officers have already been designated as delegates by virtue of office. Members will be asked to determine if the selected delegates will carry all of Local 2366’s votes, which, if approved, would preclude the need for alternate delegates. However, if members do not approve this proposal and instead authorize additional delegate(s), then nominations for additional and alternate delegates will be accepted, and a mail ballot election will be held to elect additional and alternate delegates as governed by the AFGE Rules of Conduct for an Election, Appendix A, of the AFGE National Constitution. For those who cannot attend the meeting, nominations can be submitted via nominations@nbpc2366.org.

The designated delegates will represent Local 2366 at the NBPC National Convention set to take place in March 2023, and the AFGE District 10 Caucus set to take place on or about May 2023.

NOTE: The NBPC National Convention and AFGE District 10 Caucus are considered internal union business, and official time to travel to and from these events, or to attend these events, is not authorized. As a result, delegates attend and travel to/from these events on days off or annual leave.

Changes to filing OWCP claims for COVID

The Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWCP), recently published a bulletin regarding changes to how COVID claims will be processed.

Early in the pandemic, DOL changed the rules to allow COVID claims to be filed on a Form CA-1 and determined that people in high-risk jobs would be assumed to have caught COVID while on duty. Then Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March 2021, which turned that DOL rule into law. The law stated that anyone who contracted COVID from January 27, 2020, through January 27, 2023, would be assumed to have caught it on duty. So when this special case handling expires on January 27, 2023, COVID will be treated like any other infectious disease that a federal employee may have caught at work.

Anyone who is diagnosed with COVID after January 27, 2023, has two options:

  1. Fill out a Form CA-1, but “only if the event alleged to have caused the diagnosed COVID-19 is identifiable as to time and place of occurrence. This must be a specific event or incident or series of events or incidents during a single day or work shift. See 20 CFR § 10.5(ee).”
  2. Fill out a Form CA-2, which requires an employee first to see a doctor at their own expense, and then have the doctor write a doctor’s note explaining why they believe the employee’s COVID diagnosis is due to an on-duty exposure. The employee would then submit the Form CA-2 with that medical evidence.

So what does this mean for the average employee? After January 27, 2023, if an employee tests positive and can unequivocally show that they were exposed to someone at work who tested positive for COVID, they can fill out a Form CA-1. They would need to be able to explain, for example, that they transported an illegal alien for 30 minutes in a vehicle with the windows rolled up on a particular date or they were in an enclosed interview room with a subject who later tested positive. These are just examples, but this is the sort of detailed information they are looking for, along with the other requirements of 20 CFR § 10.115.

They could then use continuation of pay (COP), but it would be up to OWCP to decide if the claim will be accepted. If it is ultimately not accepted, the employee would be required to convert any COP used to annual leave, sick leave, or leave without pay.

However, if an employee intends to fill out a Form CA-2, they would have to use sick leave and would not have access to COP.

So this means that if someone tests positive and wants to file a CA-1, it will be on them to try to figure out if they were around someone who tested positive. Most stations are only testing detainees for COVID if they exhibit symptoms, so everyone will have to be more aware of when detainees test positive so CA-1s can be filled out when appropriate. The same goes for employees – if someone tests positive, we can’t trust that the station will do proper contact tracing, so they need to make sure they notify anyone they were around before testing positive.

And don’t be surprised if you have supervisors in your station who will pretend they are an epidemiologist and try to controvert your Form CA-1, so make sure you are as specific as possible about when and where you were exposed to someone on duty who tested positive for COVID.

You can read OWCP’s FECA Bulletin No. 23-02 at this link for more details:
https://www.dol.gov/agencies/owcp/FECA/regs/compliance/DFECfolio/FECABulletins/FY2020-2024#FECAB2302