Ford Motor Co. resumed production at its U.S. plants on Monday, May 18. To keep its employees safe as they returned to work, Ford secured contracts with health systems in four key metro areas to conduct testing of employees with suspected symptoms of Covid-19.
Employees in Southeast Michigan will be tested through Beaumont Health, while Kansas City employees will be tested through Liberty Hospital. In Chicago, employees will be tested through University of Chicago Medical Center and UChicago Medicine-Ingalls Memorial Hospital. In Louisville, Kentucky, Ford employees will be tested through University of Louisville Health.
“Fast and accurate testing is a key tool in the effort to help stop the spread of Covid-19,” said Dr. Walter Talamonti, Ford medical director. “These contracts will allow us to test employees with suspected symptoms and have results back within 24 hours. If they test positive, we can quickly identify close contact employees who may have been exposed and ask them to self-quarantine for 14 days.”
In Louisville, Kentucky, Ford has two major assembly plants and employs approximately 12,500 people. Employees who exhibit symptoms of Covid-19 will be asked to immediately schedule a telemedicine appointment with a doctor from University of Louisville Health. The doctor can then write a prescription for Covid-19 testing if necessary.
At all locations, the goal is to have results available within 24 hours. Testing results will be simultaneously shared with Ford doctors in order to quickly identify others who were in close contact with infected employees and immediately have them self-quarantine for 14 days.
“The health and safety of our employees has been — and remains — our top priority as we navigate the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to expanding locations for these tests, we are also pursuing the possibility of voluntary antibody testing in the future for our employees,” said Ken Washington, Ford’s chief technology officer.
Ford is initially focusing on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, which identifies if someone is actively infected. PCR tests are used to detect the presence of viral RNA, not the presence of the antibodies, which are the body’s immune response.
“Fast, accurate tests work hand-in-hand with personal protection equipment and protocols to create a safe environment for our workforce,” said Gary Johnson, Ford chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer.
This testing is in addition to Ford’s health and safety protocols, which include daily online employee health self-certifications completed before work each day, no-touch temperature scans when employees arrive at work, required face masks for everyone entering the Ford facility and safety glasses and face shields when jobs don’t allow for social distancing.