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Addressing the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 23, 2020

Good afternoon Parents, Family Members, Guardians and Community Members:

We begin another week of unprecedented issues with the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Every day, things are changing; however, our foremost concern remains the health, wellness and safety of our individuals and all of our dedicated staff members.  I want to express my gratitude to our entire Team for their ongoing commitment to the people we support, their co-workers and the agency itself. 

In an abundance of caution, we made decisions last week to help minimize the spread of the virus in our organization.  Please note Saratoga Bridges does not have a confirmed case of Coronavirus as of Monday, March 23rd.  This is due in part of how willingly our staff have embraced the recommendations of the local, state and federal Departments of Health and Centers of Disease Control.

As of March 22nd, we were notified that we should make every effort for non-essential staff to work from home.  Effective March 23rd, the majority of our Administrative, Program Coordinators and Behavioral Support will be working from home.  And, we now believe that Day Services will continue to be suspended into the month of April. Because of this, I want to update everyone on what will be occurring:

  1. All staff will have work plans developed with their Supervisors to be implemented over the next 5 days
  2. We are recording new messages on our phone systems that state our Day Programs are suspending services and callers can contact us through 518-587-0723
  3. We are making every effort to hold meetings through Conference Calls, Zoom or Skype
  4. We are notifying all DSPs and nurses that they are deemed Essential Staff by the mandate from Gov. Cuomo and it is crucial they report to work during these challenging times
  5. We are giving all Essential Staff letters to carry with them that identify them as essential in case they are stopped by Law Enforcement
  6. We are establishing a plan in which DSPs, Employment Specialists and Bus Monitors are assigned to a specific Residential schedule
  7. We are entering into agreement with Sysco if we require a need to purchase items in bulk
  8. We are developing a plan to provide OT, PT and Speech Services in certain homes
  9. We identified one of our sites if there is a need to initiate a significant quarantine plan

The good news:

  • We have a supply of masks, gloves and protective clothing products – Thankfully Mildred Elley donated 200 masks and 500 gowns on Friday, March 20th.
  • Telemedicine (accessing providers online) is up and running with our first call this weekend. The Dr. was able to assess, diagnosis and prescribe medication without the individual leaving home.  
  • The Arc of NY has been working closely with us and advocating with OPWDD to develop an emergency funding source for revenue lost from Day Services and the increase costs from Residential Services.

I want to reiterate the necessity for the changes we are implementing. This includes keeping our individuals safe in their homes and continuing to provide employment for all of our staff.  It is our ultimate goal, once the pandemic is over, for all staff to return to their positions.  We will remain vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of this illness.

Again, I want you to know that the ongoing dedication our staff have exhibited has been exemplary.  Their commitment, flexibility, understanding and support has not gone unnoticed by our Board of Directors and Management Team. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact me at vmuratori@saratogabridges.org or 518-587-0723 ext. 1251. 

I will keep you updated as we move through this uncharted crisis. We all realize this is a very challenging time, but I am confident that we will all make it through it.  

Stay strong,

Valerie

 

March 19, 2020

Dear Parents, Family Members, Guardians, Medical Professionals and Staff Members:

As we continue through these unchartered waters with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), every day our way of life is changing.  I want to emphasize our foremost concern is the health, wellness and safety of our individuals and dedicated staff members.  As such, our administrative staff have been meeting and receiving daily updates from The Arc New York, The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Saratoga County Department of Health, New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. It is important to note, Saratoga Bridges does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Due to the directive we received this morning, in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, OPWDD is requiring a temporary suspension of visitation to our residential programs – effective immediately. This includes our 19 homes and supported apartments.  We will be implementing these policies as well:

  • Every visitor who must come to the house will be screened for symptoms (cough, shortness of breath and fever) or potential exposure to someone with COVID-19
  • We will post signage notifying every one of the suspensions of visitation policy

We fully recognize the emotional impact these restrictions are causing during this crisis; however, it is a necessary precaution as we work to minimize transmission of COVID-19 in our community and risk to our staff and the people we support. To continue balancing the social-emotional needs of our individuals, we ask for you to please contact the Residence Manager to coordinate your communication options with your loved one.

We are continuing to seek specific guidance from the local, state and federal health officials and will keep you apprised.  To that end, we have added a link on our Saratoga Bridges website to provide the most current information and updates.  We encourage you to refer to the website.  Please know we will remain vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of this illness and our highest priority is the health, well-being and safety of our individuals and staff. Community is essential in times of crisis, and we appreciate your support and understanding as we work to sustain our connections in creative ways. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact me at vmuratori@saratogabridges.org or 518-587-0723 ext. 1251.

Thank you for your understanding and support.

Regards,

Valerie A. Muratori, Executive Director

 

March 17, 2020

I want to take a moment to first express my appreciation to our staff on behalf of our Management Team, Board of Directors and family members.  Their unwavering support for our individuals and fellow co-workers truly makes me proud to represent all of them.

I do want to update you on the status of the Coronavirus and its impact on Saratoga Bridges. Directives and communication with state have literally been changing from hour to hour. Communication from OPWDD began on Saturday to identify that individuals living in our ICFs were to remain at home, visitation should be limited and that all staff working within 6 ft of an individual should be wearing a mask. Communication then occurred Sunday, that all agencies needed to develop a plan to suspend Day Services for all individuals living in a certified residential program. And then, as of 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17th, we were notified that all Day Services will be suspended for everyone including individuals living with a family member effective 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17th.

We wanted to provide you with a better perspective of everything that has transpired:

  1. We have signage at all of our sites and houses to identify health safety requirement for visitors
  2. We are reminding everyone to wash their hands and follow all of the directives provided by the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control
  3. We are prescreening all visitors before welcoming them into the programs
  4. We are keeping a sign in sheet at all sites and houses for visitors
  5. We sent letters to families, staff and providers with the above information
  6. We created a Coronavirus Updates link on our website to keep stakeholders knowledgeable of our policies and procedures
  7. On Monday, March 16th, the Management Team met to review and confirm staff assignments in our homes and to confirm Day Services would be suspended for individuals living in certified residences effective Tuesday, March 17th
  8. A second letter was developed and sent to families, providers and staff
  9. At the request of OPWDD, we submitted a plan for the suspension of services, the number of individuals impacted and the plan for individuals living with family members
  10. On Tuesday, March 17th, we provided Transportation and Day Services for 50 individuals who live with their families
  11. As of 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17th, we contacted all the families who have their loved one living with them that we have been mandated to suspend all Day Services
  12. We are asking families if they are need of some type of support due their own employment needs
  13. We are submitting a second report to OPWDD as it relates to the impact of halting services for individuals living with a family member. Our plan requires us to develop alternative services for this group of individuals
  14. As it relates to our 19 homes, Day staff members are assisting Residential staff and will receive back up with our Program Coordinators and LPNs.
  15. We are evaluating how our Clinicians (OT, PT, Speech and Behavioral) will be providing services in the homes
  16. Transportation staff are being cross trained in various capacities
  17. We have inventoried our supplies and medical needs and placing orders
  18. We are researching and providing staff with alternative childcare options
  19. We are sharing information as quickly as possible with all of our stakeholders during this very challenging, every-changing crisis

Again, I want to thank all of my dedicated team. Their commitment does not go unnoticed.  Hopefully, we will weather this crisis and be back to our usual programs, services and activities much sooner than later.

Please feel free to contact me at vmuratori@saratogabridges.org or 518-587-0723 ext. 1251 if I can assist with further questions you may have.

Stay healthy,

Valerie A. Muratori, Executive Director

 


March 16, 2020

Dear Parents, Family Members and Guardians:

As you know, we are experiencing unprecedented events with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Every day, things are rapidly changing. Our foremost concern is the health, wellness and safety of our individuals and staff. As such, our administrative staff have been meeting and receiving daily updates from The Arc New York, OPWDD, Saratoga County Department of Health and the New York State Department of Health.

It is important to note, while Saratoga Bridges does not have a confirmed case of Coronavirus, in an abundance of caution we have made several decisions to help minimize the spread of the virus in our organization. We have implemented a policy and process for handling visits to our facilities by non-staff members and our custodial staff has taken additional steps to ensure cleanliness by disinfecting our buildings including doorknobs,hardware and hand railings as well as our vehicles.

Due to the directive we received yesterday, we are suspending day services for individuals living in certified residences as of Tuesday, March 17th for a minimum of 2 weeks. This includes our 19 homes, supported apartments as well as the other providers we work with – the state, AIM, Living Resources, Center for Disability Services, Vanderheyden and Wildwood. We will be continuing to provide day programming for individuals who live with family members or independently. These decisions are to limit the exposure of the Coronavirus. We understand that this is a tremendous disruption; however, it is a necessity. Your support is fundamental.

We are continuing to seek specific guidance from the state or local health officials and The Arc New York and will keep you apprised. To that end, we have added a link on our Saratoga Bridges website to provide the most current information and updates. We encourage you to refer to the website.

Please know we will remain vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of this illness. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact me at vmuratori@saratogabridges.org or 518-587-0723 ext. 1251. Thank you in advance for your understanding and support.

Regards,

Valerie A. Muratori, Executive Director

March 11, 2020

Dear Parents, Family Members and Community Members:

At this time, Saratoga Bridges does not have a confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in our programs, however, we are aware of concerns in the community about the spread of this relatively new virus. The agency is closely monitoring this situation and following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health, Saratoga County Department of Health and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

If the agency becomes aware that an individual or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, we will immediately notify all appropriate stakeholders including parents, family members and guardians. If an individual or staff member shows respiratory symptoms, we will follow our current practices for handling respiratory illnesses, subject to any additional guidance forthcoming.

The agency has infectious disease protocols in place and has been taking steps including cleaning and disinfecting throughout our programs to minimize the spread of viruses and a variety of other illnesses. There are a number of steps that individuals, staff and community members can take to minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, according to the state Department of Health:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

  • Heavily soiled hands need to be thoroughly washed

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

  • Stay home when you are sick

  • Cover our cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

If you or a family member begin showing symptoms of a respiratory disease and suspect it may be COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider. Before going to your healthcare provider’s office, inform them that a case of COVID-19 is suspected and follow their advice.

We are including our new Visitor Policy created by OPWDD to better inform you as to our changes. These will be in place until we are told otherwise by OPWDD.

Families are also encouraged to follow the CDC’s information for travel, available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index./html. For more information, please consider consulting these additional resources:

  • Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

ncov/faq.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019- ncov%2Fstigma-faq.html

Please know that, as always, the health and safety of our individuals and staff is our highest priority, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of this illness. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact me at 518-587-0723 ext. 1251.

Regards,

Valerie A. Muratori, Executive Director