Important Updates about COVID-19
March 22, 2020
March 20, 2020
March 19, 2020
March 18, 2020
March 16, 2020
From the desk of Stanfort Perry, Executive Director
I am writing with an update on how our family of organizations is responding to COVID-19. Today, as always, we remain focused on the health and safety of the people we support, their families, our staff and members of our community.
We are taking all of the necessary safety precautions and following recommendations set by the New York State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).
Additionally, our leadership team is holding regular meetings to assess risk and ensure we are able to carry out our mission safely and effectively.
To best comply with social distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we are temporarily suspending day habilitation and pre-vocational services for people living in AHRC Nassau and Citizens Options Unlimited residences beginning tomorrow March 17, 2020. We are in the process of contacting all community –based families and communicating what options are available for their family members beginning tomorrow, March 17, 2020. All questions and inquiries can be forwarded to email@example.com
Our programs are in the process of preparing meaningful day activities to take place in the residences. We believe that this program change is an important way to protect the people we support and our staff members from exposure to COVID-19.
We know the importance of routine in the lives of the men and women we support as well as the services relied upon by our families. This is a sacred duty that we will continue to safeguard.
We are in ongoing contact with regulatory agencies and will share these updates with you if further program modifications or closings need to occur.
In these extraordinary times, your support is critical and very much appreciated.
March 14, 2020
March 11, 2020
As you are all aware there is information and recommendations regarding the Coronavirus that are changing rapidly, which requires the agency to take additional prudent measures to protect the people we support, and staff, across all of our programs.
- At this time, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending “social distancing” to limit the spread of the virus. Social distancing is a general guideline that recommends remaining at least 6 feet away from another person. Therefore, at this time we are recommending that all programs examine every programmatic or recreational activity, and that any activity involving large crowds is canceled as appropriate. If you have any questions regarding whether an activity is appropriate, please reach out to your supervisor for guidance. All programs should plan for a variety of “in house” activities designed to actively engage people supported.
- The agency will be evaluating all large gatherings/meetings, and utilize technology where appropriate in place of “in person” meetings. Further information will follow regarding this initiative.
Thank you very much for your support, and please know that we appreciate your diligence and hard work to keep the people we support and our employees safe! Future communications will be forthcoming this week, and will be focused on what to do if a fellow employee or person supported is diagnosed with the Coronavirus.
March 10, 2020
ALL OPWDD OPERATED PROGRAMS
Due to the presence of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the local community, we are under express direction from the NY State Department of Health and OPWDD to implement infection control measures related to visitors (including: parents, family, friends, care managers, advocates, etc).
All potential visitors must CALL AHEAD to the residence/program to schedule a visit. When you call the location, you will be asked three questions as listed below:
- Have you traveled to a country for which the CDC has listed a travel warning in the last 14 days (China, Iran, Korea, Italy)?
- To your knowledge have you had contact with a person who is diagnosed with Covid-19/Coronavirus or who is currently being monitored for symptoms in the last 14 days?
- Do you have any symptoms of respiratory infection (ex. cough, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath)?
If you answer YES to any of the above questions you will not be able to visit the location and will be referred to the program administrator for further instructions.
It is of the utmost importance to us that we keep each and every person who we support safe! Thank you in advance for your cooperation in complying with these very important directives.
March 9, 2020
We felt that it was important to reach out to the people we support, agency personnel and families in light of the recent Coronavirus (Covid-19) diagnoses in our county. We first want to share that we are fully prepared and would like provide you with some additional information related to our planning and the actions taken to protect the people we support and staff. We are monitoring and ensuring swift action on all communications from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and DOH (Department of Health). We encourage you to do the same to ensure that you are seeing up to date and accurate information at:
What are we doing to reduce the risk in our programs? As we have shared, this is a rapidly changing situation. Any steps we take may be modified and enhanced as we are closely following DOH guidance. While Coronavirus may simply present as cold symptoms, given that there is no vaccine or antiviral medication available at this time, we are ensuring that enhanced precautions are being taken as below.
Hygiene: We are instructing staff and people supported across all programs to engage in frequent hand washing including after using restrooms, after coughing or sneezing, upon returning home and always before eating. We are making hand sanitizers, with 60% alcohol content, available to take into the community for staff and people supported for when sinks are not available. Cough and sneeze etiquette including the use of tissues for coughs or sneezes are being reviewed in every program. The CDC does not recommend the routine use of respiratory/surgical masks. We do have a supply available of surgical masks and N95 masks that are reserved for individuals that may present with symptoms and cannot exercise safe respiratory hygiene.
Cleaning: In all programs commonly touched surfaces are being disinfected with anti-viral products including doorknobs, light switches, railings, remote controls, telephones, etc. This is being on a daily basis at minimum and in residential settings, at the end of each shift.
Maintaining Stock of Essential Items: We are maintaining a stock supply of: non-perishable food, water, toilet paper and cleaning supplies in the event that a program requires anything that is not readily available in the community. We are in contact with our pharmacy and other vendors to ensure their availability to provide us with additional resources if necessary.
Monitoring for Signs of Illness: Staff and people supported are instructed to stay home when showing signs of respiratory illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat & headache). Nursing staff will guide actions for all people supported who present with respiratory symptoms. Staff should not present for work if they have any respiratory symptoms and must contact their physician. In the event that you need to seek medical attention, call ahead and tell them about any recent travel and symptoms. Always avoid contact with others until a diagnosis is received. In the event that staff or a person supported is diagnosed with Coronavirus, it will be reported immediately and we will work in conjunction with the CDC and DOH to ensure that every possible step is taken to minimize the impact to all involved.
Travel precautions: As the virus continues to spread travel restrictions are being updated and now include several countries. The CDC has very strict measures in place at all ports of entry to screen people coming back from any of the identified countries. The results of that screening carefully dictate what follow up is required for that person and there is direct contact with their local county health department as well as strict follow up measures. We have discouraged all non-essential travel to outbreak areas and have requested that employees and people supported disclose travel to outbreak areas to their Program Director so that appropriate steps related to self-quarantine can be taken upon return. Updated travel information related to 2019‐nCoV can be found at: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices
We remain firmly committed to the health and wellness of the people who we support and our workforce. We have taken every possible step to prepare to meet the challenges of this virus outbreak. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach our Senior Director of Health Services, Nicole Uterano-Ferrar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516-293-2016 ext 5347.