Important Health & Safety Information for the SWHPN 2023 General Assembly

We are looking forward to reconnecting with our members and colleagues in Denver, Colorado for the SWHPN 2023 General Assembly. Like you, we wish we could accurately predict where we will be with regards to COVID, variants, travel restrictions, and the like. We are monitoring all available data and guidance, as well as policies used successfully by other organizations and event planners to limit the spread of COVID and other diseases.

We understand that national and local guidelines can vary, and that recommendations can change frequently, which can sometimes lead to confusion. At the 2022 General Assembly, we used several overlapping safety protocols to keep attendees as safe as possible (the “Swiss cheese model”) and overall enjoyed a very safe conference, with only a few reported cases of attendees contracting Covid during / after the event. We do not want to become known as a super-spreader event.

Given the work that we do with vulnerable patient and family populations, as well as to keep the event as accessible as possible for attendees with health conditions, we currently plan to have the following guidelines in place at this year’s conference:

  1. All attendees, staff, Board members, and volunteers MUST:

    • Be vaccinated and boosted within CDC guidelines. There will be no religious exemptions granted. As of October 5, 2022, this would involve having the bivalent / Omicron booster.
    • All attendees must provide proof of vaccination, including showing dates of vaccination and booster with either an ID and Vaccine card, or use of an app (for example, CLEAR)

  2. It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that all attendees wear an acceptable mask at all times indoors.  We will have free N95 masks on-site for use.

  3. It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that all attendees, staff, Board members, and volunteers take a PCR or rapid antigen test within 24-48 hours of traveling, especially if they are experiencing any symptoms.

    • If the test is positive, please submit notice of that for a full refund of your registration fee.
    • We will have a limited number of testing kits available for you on-site. If your test is positive, you will receive a full refund of your registration fee.
    • Note that test results of a PCR test can be uploaded into certain apps like CLEAR. Home tests cannot be uploaded, but if one shows as positive before the event, you can send a screenshot to claim the refund.

  4. Additional safety measures we will be implementing on site at the Westminster Westin Hotel:

    • Seating in all rooms, including the ballroom, will be spaced out more than usual.
    • Several of the breakout rooms have large windows that can be opened to the courtyard for extra ventilation.
    • Extra staff on hand will wipe down breakout rooms and commonly used places and objects (e.g., the clickers).
    • The Welcome Reception on Sunday evening will be held outdoors (weather permitting).
    • When breakfast or lunch are provided, individually boxed meals or to-go containers will be provided. There will not be a buffet in order to limit crowding.
    • We will have extra coffee stations set up, to limit crowding
    • After mid-March, we will ask attendees to choose the sessions they are likely to attend so we can assign rooms according to the number expected at that session.
    • We will have self-scanning stations set up for CE credits in front of each breakout room, to limit interactions with volunteers

  5. Virtual Option to attend the conference:

    We are currently evaluating the feasibility of offering some part of the conference (ie, keynote speakers; one specific track) virtually for those that are unable to attend in-person. We are hopeful that this may be in place for this year’s conference, and will have more details available soon.

  6. 2023 Virtual Summits:

    At this time, we are planning to continue to hold Virtual Summits in the fall of 2023 so that HAPC social workers can still gather virtually for professional development and connecting. These will be similar to the Virtual Summits we held in 2020  - 2022, with separate themes, speakers, and CEs for each Summit.

  7. Cancellation / Postponement of the General Assembly:

    • If a COVID surge requires us to cancel/postpone the in-person event in April 2023, we will evaluate ways to hold the event completely virtually. We are also working on procedures to determine how to continue the breakout sessions if, for example, one presenter/panelist cannot attend due to illness or exposure. We guarantee that we will communicate with you clearly and frequently, especially as we get closer to the event date.
    • We are optimistic that, similar to what we’ve seen in past years, there is a fall COVID surge and then a period of relative lower community spread in the spring. We understand that many places are no longer requiring masks even in healthcare settings. As a healthcare-related organization committed to promoting accessibility, we hope that having some protective measures in place will allow for a successful and enjoyable experience for everyone.  

    If you have any questions about the conference, safety protocols, or requirements, please feel free to reach out to Jessica Strong, Executive Director, at [email protected].