Epic employees raise concerns over mandate to return to campus in September

Hundreds of Epic employees have voiced concerns to the Verona, Wis.-based EHR giant about its required on-campus return next month, according to an Aug. 4 CBS News report.

Earlier this month, Epic CEO Judy Faulkner sent an email to the company's nearly 10,000 employees telling staff they will be required to come back to campus for in-person work starting in September, according to CBS consumer investigative correspondent Anna Werner. The company has been allowing most staff to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the email, obtained by the network, Ms. Faulkner said: "Staff working at home is not nearly as good as staff working at Epic. Even if work gets done, we are losing big time, the culture that made the company successful."

Hundreds of employees have voiced their objections to the EHR giant's required return to work date, according to internal employee surveys obtained by the network. On Aug. 3, Ms. Faulkner sent another email to employees saying that the company is now having nationally recognized experts review its plans and will make adjustments as needed.

To enhance safety of employees returning back to the 1,000-acre campus, Epic secured private offices for employees, upgraded heating and filtration systems and restricted its cafeteria to takeout only. But some employees, who remained anonymous out of fear of termination, told CBS they're concerned about returning over fears of spreading the virus.

In an Aug. 4 emailed statement to Becker's, Epic emphasized that saving lives is the company's highest priority and it is working to meet the needs of healthcare organizations facing the pandemic by quickly developing new software and creative approaches for implementation and support.

"Over the past several months, our experience has been that results are much better and faster when staff are able to collaborate on new and creative ideas during in-person brainstorming sessions compared to over the phone or video conference," the statement reads. "This in-person collaboration, with masks and safe physical distancing, is essential to saving more lives."

Epic said that employees with health conditions that place them at a higher risk for COVID-19 will be allowed to participate in meetings virtually and that the company will "continue to work closely with local public health officials and infectious disease experts and adjust plans as needed."

Last month, Cerner told employees it will not reopen offices until 2021. The Kansas City, Mo.-based EHR vendor has more than 13,000 local, full-time equivalent employees across its campuses.

Editor's note: Becker's updated this article to include a statement from Epic. 

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