A COVID-19 Update from Sean Eagen
As folks I’m sure have heard by now, President Trump extended guidelines for social distancing until April 30th. This is a highly significant move, which means American life will remain shut down for at least another month, and possibly longer. This necessary step to protect the spread of the virus certainly impacts your work, and I thank you for your flexibility, creativity, and commitment.
A few updates and reminders:
The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler is considered an “essential business”. Essential health care workers include licensed health professionals such as physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, LPNs, nurse assistants or laboratory personnel, and direct support professionals. First responders may include paramedics, emergency medical technicians, police officers, and firefighters.
The Federal and State Government have enacted additional support for employees including a stimulus check, support with housing, and FMLA/Sick time. In order to qualify through New York State, staff must be quarantined or in isolation as authorized by the Department of Health. A physician’s note is not a qualifying document. For additional guidance, please contact Human Resources.
As of this morning, Chemung County has 12 confirmed cases of COVID19 while Schuyler County has 2 confirmed cases. The number of cases is anticipated to grow over the next couple weeks. This will most certainly impact the individuals we support, staff, family, and friends. New York City Arc Chapters have been impacted, consistent with the entire NYC area. Please ensure you follow guidelines established for universal precautions, social distancing, washing hands, and appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment. We will continue to screen staff as they come to work and, where possible, utilize technology to complete our work. I’m aware that these are difficult times causing anxiety and fear of the unknown. We need to continue to increase our preparedness to reduce the impact of the virus.
We have secured Personal Protective Equipment including masks, N95 Masks, gloves, gowns, and protective face shields for when the time comes that they are needed. Our nursing staff will be working with all staff to understand how and when to use the equipment, how to properly dispose of equipment, and any cleaning requirements. Kevin Wolfe, Safety Director, will maintain our inventory. We continue to work with our vendors and The Arc NY to secure additional supplies.
Our nursing staff are working on Nursing Care Plans for all individuals supported in residential services.
We are preparing the Schuyler Day Hab site to provide isolation for individuals unable to be isolated in their residence. We will have the site fully equipped and ready by the end of the week.
Telehealth (StationMD) should be up and running at all sites by next Monday, 4/6.
We have established an enhanced rate differential for staff working with an individual with a confirmed case and is in isolation. We will be adding $5/ hr. to the staff person’s existing hourly rate. Depending on location, and circumstances, this could be one-on-one support or for all staff at the location.
It is important that all staff keep abreast on this evolving pandemic, as our response requires all hands on deck. Again, it is important that staff personally adhere both at work, and outside work, to CDC recommended guidelines.
Once again, thank you all for your efforts. Together, we will get through this difficult time.
Let me start by thanking you all for your flexibility, hard work, and dedication. A special thanks to all staff who willingly took reassignments to support residential needs. I know this is a challenging time for all and I want you to know how much you are appreciated!
A few things:
Starting Monday, our buildings will be restricted to non-staff visitors, except for clinic appointments.
Some staff are beginning to work, receive calls and emails remotely while continuing to support our agency’s mission.
We have created an email box for you to direct any questions to: CovidQuestions@arcofcs.org. This is a general mailbox and your questions will be directed to, and answered by, the appropriate person.
There is a COVID-19 task force, which meets at least twice each week. This group continues to work on plans and address new issues.
As a reminder, continue to pay attention to the need to follow universal precautions. Wash hands, clean areas, and maintain safe distancing from others. It is too easy to forget and shake a hand, or sit right next to someone else, versus spreading out. If you see a co-worker that may have forgotten to follow recommended guidelines, please give them a gentle reminder.
Please continue to self-monitor governmental resources that are available to you.
Remember to call the EAP hotline, if needed. Info attached.
Again, thank you, all!
A COVID-19 Update from Sean Eagen
Please be aware that The Arc NY, OPWDD, and New York State continue to work hard to get information and guidance our to providers. There will be meetings this evening and tomorrow which will hopefully provide additional information to keep us moving forward. We, at The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler, will be continuing our efforts to help reduce the spread of the virus, while ensuring our services are provided to those in need.
As a reminder, please pay attention to the need to follow universal precautions. Wash hands, clean areas, and maintain safe distancing from others. It is too easy to forget and shake a hand, or sit right next to someone else, versus spreading out. If you see a co-worker that may have forgotten to follow recommended guidelines, please give them a gentle reminder. When feasible and appropriate, use the phone/face time to have discussions with others. Any staff who may arrive prior to front desk staff need to report to the front desk at soon as reception arrives for a temperature check.
We hope to have additional information for all staff late Monday.
I can not express my sincere thanks and gratitude for all of our staff and what they do. Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and our Nurses are essential to ensuring the health and safety of the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities they support. Our DSPs and Nurses are "essential staff" all the time, especially during times like these, and must be seen as essential. Our DSPs and Nurses are true heroes on the same footing as hospital staff, emergency medical professionals, and safety personnel. All of our staff are important in ensuring that our organization operates well. Support staff play vital role in helping the agency achieve its mission.
Thank you, all!
A COVID-19 Update from Sean Eagen
In response to Governor Cuomo’s most recent announcement that 100% of NY workforce must stay home, we received confirmation late yesterday that The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler is an essential business (which includes direct support professionals (DSPs), residential health care, and walk-in health facilities). OPWDD confirmed that our agencies, which provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities and are operated, certified, authorized, or funded by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), qualify for this exemption and should remain in operation to the extent necessary to provide those services. This includes administrative staff necessary to support the essential functions of our agency’s mission.
To discourage the spread of COVID-19, we need to continue to explore ways to minimize the spread of the virus through social distancing. Our Leadership Team continues to work on plans and respond to new guidance daily. Please understand that our staff, along with the people we support, are our utmost priority. We are doing the best we can to make the best decisions while providing programs and services.
At the Board meeting on March 19th, the Board commended the dedication of all of you.
Last summer, we had the opportunity to have an app built for the purpose of another form of communication and notifications of communications. If you go to the Apple app store or the google play store, and search for "The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler", you will find the app.
March 17, 2020
Message from OPWDD Commissioner Kastner Regarding Day Program Services
I am writing to inform you of steps that the NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) is taking to ensure the safety of all people with developmental disabilities who participate in day program services.
OPWDD is hereby directing the temporary suspension of services at all Day Habilitation, Day Treatment, and Prevocational Services across the state effective no later than Tuesday, March 17, 2020 by 5 p.m.
We recognize that unexpected changes in scheduling, staffing, or a temporary suspension of day program services all represent significant hardships for families who support their loved ones in their homes. Day program services for people with developmental disabilities allow families to meet their other needs, including earning a living and providing care to other family members.
OPWDD has asked providers of day program services to provide alternative programming for families that will be negatively affected by the suspension of services. Additional guidance that has been provided by OPWDD to our voluntary providers is available on our website at https://opwdd.ny.gov/news_and_publications/coronavirus-guidance-opwdd-service-providers.
The health and well-being of the people we mutually support is of utmost importance and OPWDD will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional updates as new information becomes available.
Theodore Kastner, MD, MS, Commissioner
March 16, 2020
To Our Residents and Family Members:
We know you may be concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and how it may impact us here at The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler. Ensuring the people we support are cared for in a safe and healthy environment is our greatest concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended a variety of steps that we are implementing to help reduce the potential for the virus to enter our residences and buildings. However, we need your help in battling COVID-19. A few precautionary measures we are implementing at this time include:
All visitors are restricted at any residential location. We are following the school closure timeframe for this restriction. We understand that connecting with family members is incredibly important and staff will assist you in communicating with your family member via text, phone call, facetime, skype, or other means using technology.
Day Services: Where able, and necessary, services will be provided in the residential location or an alternate location.
Individuals supported, who live in the community, services provided will have alternate arrangements made.
Recreation will be discontinued until further notice.
We are requiring that staff and vendors entering any of our locations will log a satisfactory temperature and indicate they are not exhibiting any symptoms of respiratory illness such as: cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, and/or shortness of breath.
Our locations are following the recommendations of the CDC on prevention steps, including following strict handwashing procedures, and in many circumstances, wearing masks and gloves when interacting with individuals who are sick. We also are staying up-to-date with the CDC recommendations as they are updated. In addition, our facility is in close contact with the local and state health department and are following their guidance.
Should you have any questions, feel free to contact:
Stephanie Matkosky, Residential Services Director, 734.6151 ext.193
Jessica Smith, Day Services Director, 535.6934 ext. 116
Nicole Brown, Vocational Programs Director, 734.6151 ext. 163
Pam Overdurf, Developmental Health Services Director, 734.6151 ext. 155
Please be aware that recommended guidelines are changing frequently. We will do our best to keep all updates posted to our website at arcofcs.org/coronavirus.
John Hopkins University has developed an excellent Coronavirus Resource Center on their website.
Help us minimize the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Effective Wednesday, March 18th, all staff and visitors are required to enter buildings through the main entrance. This includes all locations in Elmira and Watkins Glen. We are implementing a process in which you log a satisfactory temperature and indicate that you are not exhibiting any symptoms of respiratory illness such as: cough, fever, sore throat, runny nose, and/or shortness of breath.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation!