January 15, 2021 Update from CEO Sean Eagen
The Arc New York, along with their Chapters, successfully advocated for the prioritization of individuals supported to receive vaccines. New York State included individuals in residential services to be included in the first phase of vaccination; however, we continue to advocate for people supported in the community to have the vaccine made available to them.
Vaccinations of individuals supported receiving residential services, and the front-line staff who support them, has begun. As of this report, over 70% of individuals supported in residential services have received their first dose of the vaccine. We have individuals that had previously tested positive for COVID who will need to wait up to ninety days to receive the vaccine.
106 Arc of Chemung-Schuyler staff have received their first dose of the vaccine, to date.
December 14, 2020
I want to provide a quick COVID-19 (coronavirus) update. Since March 2020, we have had 31 staff and 14 people supported test positive. Fortunately, no one has required hospitalization and our staff, and our team of nurses have been doing an incredible job of keeping our individuals safe.
I know we are all experiencing COVID fatigue but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Governor Cuomo recently announced that individuals living in residential homes and the staff who support them will be included in the initial phase of New York’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan. Vaccines are expected to arrive in the state sometime around December 21st. The Pfizer vaccine, which just received its emergency use authorization, will be prioritized for residences that have a majority of individuals aged 65 or older. The Moderna vaccine will be made available for the remainder of our residential homes. We continue to advocate for this to also include people supported who reside in the community.
Vaccinations will require consent. The Department of Health, The Arc New York, and OPWDD are working closely to establish a standardized process for establishing informed consent. More to come on that.
Any questions can be directed to CovidQuestions@ArcofCS.org.
For those seeking home visits during this holiday season, the following page provides some information.
Sean Eagen, Chief Executive Officer
November 18, 2020 message to staff regarding Thanksgiving, from Sean Eagen, CEO
As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to share a few thoughts.
For those who are working, I cannot thank you enough for your commitment and dedication. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I truly want staff to be able to enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday as much as possible. I also want to remind you all to do your part to stay safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19, keeping your friends, families, the people we support, and communities healthy and safe.
A few reminders to consider how your holiday plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
Small household gatherings are a contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Limit the number of attendees as much as possible, with no more than 10 people.
Continue to practice frequent hand washing, social distancing, and mask wearing, and encourage others to do so as well.
If you or anyone in your house has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 10 days, are currently on a Department of Health mandated quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19, are experiencing signs and symptoms of COVID-19, or are waiting for COVID-19 test results, we would ask that you reschedule your gathering.
Governor Cuomo and the CDC are discouraging out of state travel. If you must travel out of state, or host out of state travelers, please click here for guidelines you will need to follow.
We recognize the hardship placed on you and your family, and truly appreciate your cooperation. If you have any questions, please contact your supervisor.
As always, thank you for everything you do!
November 5th COVID-19 Update for Staff from Sean Eagen, CEO
Thanks to all your hard work, I am pleased to share that our agency numbers are dropping back down! However, parts of Chemung County continue to be designated as either Orange or Yellow Zones. As a result, we will need to continue to limit visitation, and reduce group sizes in our Day Services and Vocational programs.
OPWDD is encouraging weekly testing for staff within the orange and yellow warning zones (testing is not mandated). We will continue to distribute area COVID-19 test site information via staff emails and Talk It Up!. Testing is free to all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider or by calling the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065. You can view a list of testing sites on SharePoint here: COVID Testing Sites.pdf
We will be working with Cayuga Medical Center to provide some limited on-site testing. More information to follow.
New York State has revised their travel guidelines, allowing out-of-state travelers to New York to "test out" of the mandatory 14-day quarantine established by the travel advisory. Essential workers continue to be exempt from the 14-day quarantine. Details are as follows:
For travelers who were in another state for more than 24 hours:
Travelers must obtain a test within three days of departure from that state.
The traveler must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.
On day 4 of their quarantine, the traveler must obtain seek another COVID test. If both tests come back negative, the traveler may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.
For travelers who were in another state for less than 24 hours:
The traveler does not need a test prior to their departure from the other state, and does not need to quarantine upon arrival in New York State.
However, the traveler must fill out the traveler information form upon entry into New York State, and take a COVID diagnostic test 4 days after their arrival in New York.
Please remain focused on all steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a mask, social distancing, cleaning, and avoiding large gatherings.
Keep up the good work, and as always, thank you for everything you do!
October 23rd COVID-19 Update for Families
As Governor Cuomo announced this week, portions of Chemung County have been designated as a Yellow/Precautionary Zone and Orange/Warning Zone under the NY State Micro-Cluster Action Initiative. Restrictions are being put in place within these targeted areas to address COVID-19 hotspots that have been identified in our community.
As a result, The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler will continue to implement the suspension of home visitations for the those residing in any of our IRAs and ICFs. The health and safety of your loved ones, and our staff who are providing supports to them, is of upmost priority. In the meantime, our staff are happy to coordinate alternatives for your to visit with your family member via electronic means.
We are continuing to sanitize our homes, follow all recommended use of PPE, and work closely with the local County Department of Health in order to remain updated on trends and guidance. If you have questions or concerns or to make an appointment for a visit, please call the house Manager where your loved one resides. You may also contact Stephanie Matkosky, Director of Residential Services, at (607) 734-6151 ext. 193.
October 8, 2020 COVID-19 Staff Update from Sean Eagen, CEO
I want to provide a quick COVID-19 update. The one person we support who we previously announced was a confirmed case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is doing very well and is anticipated to be released from quarantine this week. At this time, we have no known individuals we support that have a positive test result. Staff have been doing an incredible job of keeping our individuals safe.
We are now seeing a handful of staff, agency wide, who are being exposed to and/or testing positive. We are working closely with the health department to follow all protocols, ensuring appropriate action is taken to monitor their health and take necessary precautions.
In order to minimize the spread, it is imperative that all staff remain diligent, both in and out of work. This means wearing masks, washing hands frequently, social distancing, consistently cleaning work areas and holding meetings virtually when possible. All sites are equipped with PPE and are undergoing heightened cleaning.
Our internal COVID-19 task force meets daily to ensure appropriate actions and communications are implemented.
As a reminder, please continue to ensure you are completing your mandatory daily health screenings. If you are experiencing ANY symptoms, you must not report to work! Contact your supervisor and Human Resources immediately. Also, if you undergo a test for COVID-19, you must notify Human Resources.
In TIU this week, there will be information about area testing sites, what it means to quarantine, as well as some reminders to keep yourself safe. Please take a few minutes to review this information.
As always, thank you for everything you do.
October 5, 2020 COVID-19 Staff Update from Sean Eagen, CEO
We continue to see an increase in the number of people in our community being directly impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus). I assure you, the health and safety of our community, staff, and the people we support remains our top priority. We continue to emphasize best practices and have implemented enhanced procedures to continuously sanitize our facilities. Our internal team meets daily to ensure appropriate actions and communications are implemented.
It is imperative that all staff take this seriously and do your part – in and out of work. This means wearing your masks, washing your hands frequently, socially distancing, and consistently clean work areas.
If you are experiencing ANY symptoms, you must not report to work! Contact your supervisor and Human Resources immediately. COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people have had a wide range of symptoms reported – from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
Fever (100.0 or above) or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Effective by the end of day Monday, October 5th, and for 7-days, the following restrictions will be in place:
Non-essential visitors are restricted from our main office buildings: 711 Sullivan Street, Elmira, and 203 12th Street, Watkins Glen;
Residential visitations; and
Elmira area program closures will be in effect, to include: Day Hab, Community Hab, and Community PreVoc. These services may be provided remotely, as determined by the program director.
We will be in touch with any additional developments or procedural changes we are making as the situation evolves. If you have additional questions about The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler’s response to COVID-19, please contact your supervisor who will ensure that your questions are answered.
Due to the recent surge in cases in Chemung County and the surrounding area, effective immediately, home visitation for the those residing in The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler IRAs and ICFs has been suspended. The health and safety of your loved ones, and our staff who are providing supports to them, is of upmost priority.
We are preparing to provide alternatives to visit with your family member either via electronic means, as needed, or visitation on-site at the IRA. To prevent congregation and reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission, we will limit visitors to 2 persons, as has been the recent past practice, and by appointment with the staff at the home where your family member resides. We understand that this is an inconvenience but as we look to keep all safe, we ask for your cooperation and your patience. We would expect to re-evaluate this restriction in 2 weeks.
In the meantime, we are continuing to sanitize our homes, follow all recommended use of PPE, and work closely with the local County Department of Health in order to remain updated on trends and guidance.
If you have questions or concerns or to make an appointment for a visit, please call the house Manager where your loved one resides. You may also contact Stephanie Matkosky, Director of Residential Services, at (607) 734-6151 ext. 193.
We thank you for your anticipated adherence to this temporary protocol.
July 16th Travel Advisory
UPDATE: NEW STATES ADDED
In response to increased rates of COVID-19 transmission in certain states within the United States, and to protect New York’s successful containment of COVID-19, the State has joined with New Jersey and Connecticut in jointly issuing a travel advisory for anyone returning from travel to states that have a significant degree of community-wide spread of COVID-19.Based upon Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 205, issued June 25, 2020, the following states meet the criteria for required quarantine:
Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin.
This is based upon a seven-day rolling average, of positive tests in excess of 10%, or number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents.
The Department of Health has established the following guidelines for Essential Workers returning from one of the previous noted high risk states:
1) Essential workers should seek diagnostic testing for COVID-19 as soon as possible upon arrival (within 24 hours) to ensure they are not positive.
New York State continues to increase testing capacity for COVID-19 on a daily basis. The guidance below enables New York State to prioritize resources to meet the public health need. Individuals who have questions regarding eligibility or access for testing should call the New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit the NYSDOH website https://covid19screening.health.ny.gov.
Please call the testing site or your health care provider before you go for testing.
If you go to a test site run by New York State, there is never any charge for your test.
If you go to a test site operated by local governments, private companies including pharmacies and medical practices or not-for-profit organizations, you are advised to check with the testing site and your insurer in advance of being tested to confirm you will not be responsible for any fees associated with your test.
2) Essential workers should monitor temperature and signs of symptoms, wear a face covering when in public, maintain social distancing, clean and disinfect workspaces for a minimum of 14 days.
3) Essential workers, to the extent possible, are required to avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers, and large congregate settings for a period of, at least, 7 days.
Essential workers and their employers are expected to comply with previously issued DOH guidance regarding return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the employee had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19. Consult with HR if you have any questions or concerns.
New York employees will forgo their paid sick leave benefits from New York's COVID-19 paid sick leave law if they engage in non-essential travel to high risk states (listed above). High risk states are any state that has a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10 percent test positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
Employees need to contact HR when they will be traveling to or returning from one of the high-risk states identified in the New York State Travel Advisory for guidance.
To All Staff and Families:
Governor Cuomo announced on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, that visitation to group homes certified by OPWDD may resume at the residence as early as Friday, June 19, 2020. OPWDD Commissioner Kastner sent the message below, indicating the opening of visitation to residences could begin as early as Friday and providers would receive specific guidelines to follow during these visits. Unfortunately, New York State and OPWDD have not changed the suspension of home visits or allowing families to take individuals out of their residences.
“Dear Friends and Colleagues: OPWDD understands how challenging the temporary suspension of visitation has been for the people we support in community residences and their families during the COVID-19 public health emergency. I am writing to inform you that visitation at OPWDD certified group homes and residential facilities may resume as early as this Friday, June 19, 2020. Providers and visitors will be required to follow specific protocols and guidelines, which will be shared later this week. 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. Sincerely, Theodore Kastner, MD, MS, Commissioner”
I have heard from many families about their concern with this requirement and fully understand that this restriction places a hardship on individuals supported, families, and our Direct Support Staff. I can assure you that The Arc NY, along with other Provider Association groups, including self-advocates, have lobbied for additional modifications which would include home visits when appropriate.
We have yet to receive the required guidance from OPWDD to finalize our procedures; however, Stephanie Matkosky, Residential Director, and Kim Kenefick, Nursing Director, are drafting the process to resume visitation at the residences. This process will include steps to minimize risks related to COVID-19, while allowing family members to spend time together.
OPWDD has indicated that this is the first step towards re-opening our supports and returning to normal (or what the new normal will look like). There has been no new information related to when, and how, Day Services will re-open. The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler is developing procedures for re-opening so that we are prepared when we are given the green light to move forward.
Once again, I thank all of you for your patience during this time.
June 11th Staff Update
Consistent with other community businesses, we too are preparing to re-open our services. An internal workgroup has been putting together plans to address how each service, business, and office will operate upon re-opening. Certainly, most of our services have been providing quality supports during this state of emergency. Staff will receive further guidance on the re-opening as these plans are finalized.
I have received several inquiries from families asking about visitations. Unfortunately, OPWDD has not changed their expectations. The Arc NY, on behalf of its chapters, along with other state provider associations, has been advocating for NYS OPWDD to begin to allow visitations in a planful manner. Ellen Hardy, OPWDD Regional Director, has been advocating for clear guidance on opening visitations. We are aware of the negative impact this has on some of the individuals and families we support, as well as the impact it has on your work. Stephanie Matkosky, Residential Director, has been working with Kim Kenefick, Director of Nursing, to ensure we have guidelines for staff when we resume increased visitations. If you have families inquiring about visitations, please direct them to your manager. We have worked with individuals and families to come up with creative ideas to have family contact.
The Arc Chemung-Schuyler has not had any staff or individuals supported test positive for COVID 19 as of today. Please remember to remain diligent with hand washing, cleaning, and the use of masks. Your efforts have been a significant part of the reason we have not had any positive cases to date. So, thank you for your dedication.
June 1, 2020
Dear Families and Friends:
The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler understands how challenging and disruptive the State of Emergency resulting from COVID-19 has been on everyone. The temporary suspension of our day services and home visits has been difficult for the people we support and their families. Please know that all actions taken to date have been to ensure the safety of individuals supported and our staff.
The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler has taken steps to minimize the exposure to the COVID-19 virus as well as prepare us, should we have any individuals or staff test positive. As of this date, we have been very fortunate to not have had any confirmed cases of COVID-19.
We continue to provide Day Services, Clinical Services, and Vocational Services whenever possible with individuals supported is our residences and with the use of technology.
We have a team currently working on re-opening plans, which will address how we will handle all services, continued health screenings, and universal precautions. Unfortunately, we do not have any set date for re-opening. New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has not lifted the suspension on Day Services sites, nor on family visitation. Again, we recognize the impact that this has on you and your loved ones. New York State Provider Associations meet weekly with OPWDD and there are family members participating. Visitation, as well as safety, are areas the group continues to review. We hope to receive guidance soon on the steps we can take to reintroduce family contact.
In the meantime, I am very proud of how The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler staff and individuals supported have responded during this pandemic. I am also grateful to family members for their patience and trust in our services.
Wishing the best for you and your family’s health and safety!
May 1st Staff Update
Just a brief update. As of today, we do not have any reported cases of COVID-19 for staff or individuals supported. Certainly, we are beginning to see some increase in numbers within our region. So, please stay diligent in handwashing, wearing masks, and social distancing. Review both Plans of Nursing Care and Site Plans to stay current.
Also, check out stories both in Talk It Up! and on our Facebook page. Our staff continue to do amazing work during this difficult time. Our COVID-19 Response Team continues to meet a couple times per week, to ensure we have needed supplies and plans in place.
Although there is not much new to report, I do wish to keep you all up to date. As always, thank you for all you do every day.
PS. This might not be much, but we wanted to share a simple way for you to share with your Facebook friends that you are a superhero at The Arc! To add this frame to your Facebook profile picture: (1.) Go to your profile on the Facebook app and tap "Edit" on your profile picture. (2.) Then tap "Add Frame". (3.) Search for the frame - The Arc of CS DSP Superhero. (4.) Position and apply!
April 21st Staff Update
First, I hope everyone is safe and healthy. I am tremendously grateful to all our staff, especially those staff serving on the frontlines of COVID-19 in essential roles. This includes Direct Support Professionals, Custodial Staff, Bus Drivers, Nurses, and Managers. Also, a big thank you to all the staff working behind the scenes to ensure that we have needed procedures, training, and supplies.
Over the past week, OPWDD Commissioner Ted Kastner and Governor Cuomo have expressed their admiration and appreciation for your efforts. We have shared those on our Facebook page.
Our Public Relations Team continually looks for new ways to spread the word on the important work you do every day. We have established a wish list link for staff to request items such as meals and recreational items, to assist in getting through the day. Our staff have been extremely creative in providing new learning opportunities for individuals we support. We have adjusted to greater use of technology to keep services and communication flowing. Thank you to Nikki, Brian, and Chris for keeping us all connected.
As indicated previously, our Nurses have prepared us if anyone we support has the virus. We have secured needed Personal Protective Equipment as well. Certainly, our fellow Arc Chapters downstate have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 virus and our thoughts and prayers go out to them. They recently held a webinar for upstate chapters to share learning opportunities, which was very valuable in our preparations.
Stay strong and together we will persevere through this difficult time.
April 15th Staff Update
Thank you all for all your efforts. Teamwork during this pandemic has been exceptional – thank you!
I would like to share some information with you that a group has been putting together in case we do have a person supported become infected with the coronavirus. It will take many of us to perform our jobs well – and we are counting on you. We are stronger together. As much as we can think about now, the less stressful we are hoping it will be when the time comes. A playbook so to speak.
So what follows are some items we are figuring out – some are complete – some still in the works – but here is the list:
We are asking all staff to be wearing masks while performing their job duties. The homemade cloth ones are great. If you do not have one or cannot get one on your own – please contact Stephanie Matkosky – she will be able to help you. We are trying to save the surgical masks for the time when we know we have a person supported who is ill. But we do want everyone to stay safe!
The nurses have done a great job putting together the care plans for the people we support if someone falls ill. The first thing will be to isolate the person preferably in their bedroom and identify one bathroom (if possible) for their use only. Call the nurse and manager on call. They will come to the house with a Personal Protective Equipment kit and complete an assessment for next steps.
The Nurse, Manager, and Safety Director will set up an area near the entry of the home with the PPE for the staff to don and a specific garbage can for the items when they are taken off by staff upon exit.
Information is being developed for managers/asst. res directors to use when calling families. One set of information for the family of the ill person and one set of information for the families of those with whom the person lives. Sean Eagen will also follow-up with a letter to families and staff.
For staff who work in the home – the information will be provided through the on-shift program. So, check on shift before you come to work if you like – it will note that someone in the home is ill. This method of communication will only go to the staff who work at that particular house.
A general communication to all staff will be made by Sean Eagen should we have a positive Covid-19 person (or symptoms consistent with Covid-19 – as all will not get approved for a test by the health dept.). Sean will keep us informed.
Shifts in Residential will have some enhanced flexibility. Under consideration are 12-hour shifts and live-in shifts. Pay differentials will be in place for those who are working with a person who has become ill.
Telehealth is being set up for people we support (Station MD). This should be in place soon to ensure that if a person does have a medical issue (not necessarily related to the coronavirus) we will have great access to medical support.
Should we have someone become infected – a “response team” has been developed who will meet every morning to discuss changes and needs and be able to rapidly respond.
That is the update for now – we wanted to share our collective thinking at this time. If there is something you are wondering about – please let your Program Director know. The more minds the better!
Keep up the great work!
April 10th Staff Update
To All Staff:
Our Nurses and Residential Directors have finalized Nursing Care Plans and Site-Specific Plans for each of our residences, in case there is a confirmed case. Please familiarize yourself with these documents and know where they are located.
Today we secured additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks, N95 mask, gowns, face shields, and thermometers. Kevin Wolfe continues to maintain inventory both in our Elmira and Watkins Glen locations. As noted in past communications, our nurses have to-go PPE ready to take to all locations, when the need arises. As a reminder, it is recommended that staff wear a mask and the attached is a guide for how to wear a mask as well as how to make your own. This video also illustrates how to make your own mask.
OPWDD has approved our plan to utilize the Day Hab at 210 12th Street, Watkins Glen, as a site for potential isolation for individuals unable to isolate in their own home. The location is fully prepared to offer this service.
Reminder that our training team has put together training related to the use of PPE and COVID-19, which is available through Relias. It is expected that all staff complete this.
StationMD Telehealth will be up and running by the end of next week.
Governor Cuomo recognized Direct Support Professionals this week for their efforts during a daily COVID-19 briefing. Myself and our Board continue to appreciate the commitment of our staff.
The Arc of Chemung- Schuyler’s COVID-19 task force continues to meet every Monday and Thursday to discuss updates, develop action plans, and identify needed communication between groups. The Arc NY continues to host phone conferences every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to share best practices, updates, and to provide support to Chapters.
As of today, we have not had any individuals supported or staff who have tested positive for COVID-19. As mentioned in previous emails, please remember to follow all CDC guidelines related to COVID-19 including washing hands and social distancing. Preventive measures and social distancing will help reduce the impact of the virus.
Finally, keep up the great work if you have questions or thoughts please share with your supervisor.
April 6th New CDC Recommendation to Wear Cloth Face Masks
The CDC has issued an additional public health measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Effective immediately, we are recommending:
Staff and people support begin wearing a cloth mask/ bandanna, which covers the nose and mouth, at all times when in a community setting. A cloth face covering should be worn when people must go into the public (grocery stores, for example). We are still strongly recommending that people supported do not go into any public places.
Staff working in our residential locations are STRONGLY urged to wear a cloth mask/ bandanna, at all times.
It is especially important that this cloth face covering be worn when working within 6 feet of our residents.
Keep in mind:
The addition of the cloth face covering is in addition to social distancing, frequent hand cleaning, and other everyday preventive actions. The cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer but may prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms.
The use of simple cloth face coverings can be used to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. The recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators, as those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
Employees who have questions or who are unable to obtain a personal cloth face covering should contact their direct supervisors.
April 3rd COVID-19 Update
I wanted to provide everyone with a brief update on COVID-19 preparedness activities:
The Arc of Chemung- Schuyler’s COVID-19 task force continues to meet every Monday and Thursday to discuss updates, develop action plans, and identify needed communication between groups. The Arc NY continues to host phone conferences every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to share best practices, updates, and to provide support to Chapters.
Additional Personal Protective Equipment including surgical masks, N95 masks, gowns, face shields, and gloves, will be arriving today. Kevin Wolfe is maintaining this inventory at our Elmira and Watkins Glen locations. Our nurses have PPE ready to take to all locations, when the need arises.
Day Hab at 210 12th Street, Watkins Glen, has been set up to accept individuals with confirmed cases who cannot be maintained at their residences.
Our Nurses and Residential Directors are finalizing Nursing Care Plans and Site-Specific Plans for each residence, in case there is a confirmed case. These plans will be available next week. Please familiarize yourself with these documents and know where they are located.
As mentioned in previous emails, please remember to follow all CDC guidelines related to COVID-19 including washing hands and social distancing. Our training team has put together training related to the use of PPE and COVID-19, which is available through Relias. Please ensure you take the time to complete.
Finally, keep up the great work! If you have questions, or thoughts, please share with your supervisor.
April 1st Staff Update
As with previous emails, I want to take the time to say thank you for your efforts. These are very trying times which certainly raise anxiety and fears among us all. We will, together, get through this but are faced with a difficult road ahead. Please note a few updates and reminders below. Also, attached is a document of some information related to the stimulus package.
I cannot express enough that we all needed to take responsibility to follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which are a 24-hour a day requirement for both at work and home. Once again, if you see individuals supported or staff falling back into bad habits, please give them a gentle reminder to help stop the spread of the virus.
Personal Protective Equipment
We have set up locations to maintain an inventory of Personal Protective Equipment both in our Elmira and Watkins Glen locations. Although equipment is hard to come by, we have been successful in obtaining needed equipment for the next several weeks. We continue to work with our vendors, The Arc NY, and the local Department of Health to secure needed Personal Protective Equipment. Kevin Wolfe, Safety Director, is overseeing this effort. Kim Kenefick, Nursing Director, along with nurses from our Elmira and Watkins Glen locations are preparing training on the use and disposal of Personal Protective Equipment, which will be available this week.
We have set up the Day Hab at 210 12th Street, Watkins Glen, as a site for the relocation of individuals who cannot be isolated in their own home, should the need arise. The site has beds, bedding, Personal Protective Equipment, shower, laundry, kitchen, handicap accessible bathrooms, medication storage, and needed technology. OPWDD DQI has been apprised of our plans to potentially utilize this location.
Plans of Nursing Services
Our nursing staff have completed COVID-19 plans of nursing service for individuals supported, which will be available by the end of the week.
Please remember to keep an eye on our web page and your email for updates on COVID-19. An email address was also set up to send in questions you may have. Feel free to reach out to Jen Mong or Lynn Greenwood in Human Resources with any HR-related questions. Also, as a reminder if you need assistance through EAP, the number is 800-252-4555 or 800-225-2527.
March 30th Staff Update
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.
March 25th Staff Update
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!
March 22nd Staff Update
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.
Reopening Safety Plans
John Hopkins University has developed an excellent Coronavirus Resource Center on their website.