COVID19 Update 2

 

April 8, 2020:  Continuing to Keep Safe is Imperative

As we move through the fourth week of this crisis, MDS continues to assiduously follow CDC guidelines and the stay-at-home orders in place until May 4th (as of now) by Governor Sununu, including during the Easter and Passover holidays. It is imperative that we protect the health and safety of all individuals and staff during this national health crisis.

Holiday planning? It is our expectation that all individuals and staff will not visit or go out unnecessarily until the stay-at-home order is lifted. If you have questions about this, please contact your Service Coordinator and Program Manager.

Referrals for new services? MDS is still accepting intake referrals, and we continue to do Early Supports & Services evaluations remotely. In fact, it's a good time to apply for services because it's been fairly slow. Contact Dale Miner by email -- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. -- or call 603-352-1304.

Want to help out? MDS welcomes donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including cloth face masks, sanitizers, gloves and face shields. Click here for details, and thank you.

What does Special Ed look like in this time of remote instruction? Join a free online webinar on Friday, April 10 at noon to discuss your questions and your rights. Presented by DRC, ABLE and the Parent Information Center. Click here to register. You can also check out the latest edition of the Pass It On newsletter from PIC and NH Family Voices for more parent information and resources.

 

April 5, 2020: Essential Direct Care Staff Remain Hard at Work  An Op Ed Piece in the Keene Sentinel by Alan Greene, Executive Director

March 31, 2020:  A Huge Thank You to DSPs, Program Managers, Home Providers and Families  A Message from Mary Anne Wisell, Director of Operations

March 27, 2020:  Update on Legislative Activities from Marylouise Alther, MDS Legislative Liaison

 

March 23, 2020:  COVID 19 Update from MDS

As we start Week 2 of our COVID-19 response, we want to assure you that MDS is continually reviewing our practices during the COVID-19 situation, with a focus on the safety of the individuals we serve, and the DSPs and caregivers who work with them. We are committed to physical/social distancing, and require that all our employees are practicing all CDC and DHHS recommendations.

As you know, last week we changed the manner in which we work. Although our office remains closed, we are continuing to work and it seems to be going well so far. We will continue to provide services in the most effective manner possible, and are grateful for your help in keeping us all safe.

A couple of reminders:

• For families and individuals, your point of contact is your Service Coordinator and Program Manager.

• For staff, your supervisor is your go-to person.

• MDS has started a Resource group on Facebook -- MDS Regional Resource and Information Group – to offer helpful information, local resources, and overall good cheer. Any member can submit a resource or post, which will then be approved by an administrator. Please note: this is not a place for complaints or questions about service – contact your Supervisor or Service Coordinator for those. Check it out if you are on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2674508159314775/

The following steps will continue through this week:

• MDS offices remain closed, and will continue to be restricted to select personnel. All staff who are able will be asked to work from home.

• Those few who cannot work from home will be allowed to work in the building on a staggered schedule, to be arranged with their supervisor. Everyone must take their temperature prior to entering the building, and follow all recommended hygiene and cleaning protocols.

• All individuals supported by MDS will be asked to stay home wherever possible. If not possible, every attempt will be made to support that person to practice social distancing including avoiding larger gatherings. Again, we ask that staff take their temperatures prior to starting work with individuals.

• When possible, staff will be reassigned to other individuals if the person with whom they work is not in services due to staying home. We are working with our vendors to share resources and ensure consistency in how we work.

• All MDS transportation is suspended.

• All staff working in programs will be asked to stay home if they have a temperature of 100.0 or above or if they have been in direct contact with someone who is being tested for COVID-19.

• Staff are asked to wear masks if they have a cough or sneezing due to allergies or other known reasons.

• Everyone is required to practice hygiene and cleaning protocols, including individuals being supported.

• All meetings are postponed or being scheduled via teleconference or video conference.

• Per recommendations of the Governor, no visitors will be allowed in staffed residences or homes with individuals who are considered to be in frail health or who have compromising medical issues unless there are extenuating circumstances. In addition to this, we strongly discourage visitors at all residences.

Please be assured, we are monitoring this situation closely. At this time, we have NO reports of COVID-19. These steps are all part of our effort to “slow the curve” of contagion and prevent any possible illness by limiting the exposure of all staff and individuals.

Because the situation with COVID-19 is changing so rapidly, we are reviewing plans every few days as we determine next steps.

Update from MDS - Monday, March 16, 2020

There have been many questions and concerns arising from the complex world we are currently experiencing with Covid-19 (Coronavirus). Although each agency needs to review its own protocols and policies, it is important that you all know what MDS is doing to address the issues at hand.

First, we're not panicking. We are being cautious and proactive while we follow the recommendations of the state and CDC. It's important to keep in mind that these strategies are being recommended to help slow down the spread of the virus.

The following explains how we are proceeding at MDS as of today. This is by no means a "long term" plan. In fact, at this point, we are only planning for three days. We will continue reviewing with our management team and the state to make adjustments as needed and as appropriate.

In an effort to support and abide by recommended social distancing, MDS is continually reviewing our practices during the COVID-19 situation. Although we are changing the manner in which we are working, we are still working! We will continue to provide services in the most effective manner possible.

Effective immediately (and for the next three days), we will be implementing the following steps:
• MDS offices will be restricted to select personnel. All staff who are able will be asked to work from home.
• Those who cannot work from home will be allowed to work in the building, but expected to follow all recommended hygiene and cleaning protocols.
• All individuals supported by MDS will be asked to stay home wherever possible. If not possible, every attempt will be made to support that person to practice social distancing including avoiding larger gatherings.
• When possible, staff will be reassigned to other individuals if the person with whom they work is not in services due to staying home.
• All MDS transportation is suspended.
• All staff working in programs will be asked to stay home if they are showing signs of illness.
• Everyone is required to practice hygiene and cleaning protocols, including individuals being supported.
• All meetings will either be rescheduled or occur via teleconference or video conference.
• Per direction of the Governor, NO VISITORS will be allowed in staffed residences or homes with individuals who are considered to be in frail health or who have compromising medical issues. In addition to this, we strongly discourage visitors at all residences.

Please be assured, we are monitoring this situation closely. At this time, we have NO reports of COVID-19. These steps are all precautionary to ensure we continue to support “slowing the curve” and prevent any possible illness by limiting the exposure of all staff and individuals. Because the situation with Covid-19 is changing so rapidly, we will be reviewing this plan in three days to determine next steps.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact your supervisor or your Service Coordinator, either by email or by calling 603-352-1304.

 

A Message from Alan Greene, MDS Executive Director, March 14, 2020

What makes this disease different? Over the past couple of decades there have been a number of scary diseases that ended up not overwhelming our health care systems: bird flu, swine flu, west Nile virus, ebola, SARS, etc. None of these diseases overwhelmed our nation’s ability to handle them. And, ultimately did not kill as many people as initially feared.

Unfortunately, because of two factors, COVID-19 appears to be different. The first factor is that it has been categorized as “highly contagious”. It began in China, but after appearing in other countries in January it has spread quickly and now is in most of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled it a pan epidemic. The second factor is that, while its symptoms are mild in most people, about 20% of those people who contract it have severe symptoms. Older people and people with underlying health conditions are at greatest risk of developing severe symptoms. I have read that it is fatal in an estimated 2.6% of overall cases. This works out to about 13% of people who develop a severe case are projected to die. If our healthcare professionals have enough time, they may be able to reduce these numbers. However, many of the people we support are at great risk of developing severe symptoms.

So, what can we do? First, everyone should engage in behavior that “flattens the curve”. This means to slow the spread of the disease, in other words to reduce the number of people who are sick at the same time. If COVID-19 spreads too quickly, our health care providers will be overwhelmed by the sheer task of caring for people. Slowing the spread means better, more comprehensive care for those who have developed a severe case.

How do we flatten the curve? All the things that you have seen or read in the past few weeks about washing hands, covering a cough, etc. should be followed. Use common sense, avoid crowds. I have seen a recommendation to stay at least six feet away from others – especially people for whom you don’t personally know their health status.

Some of the safeguards we at MDS have put in place:
• We are encouraging each team to review the risks for people they support, and if someone falls into a higher risk category they are instructed to proceed with caution, such as not having unnecessary visitors.
• We are encouraging people who can to do something like take walks in the park or away from large crowds, or something else that avoids large group activities, etc. to do so.
• At this point, we're encouraging Service Coordinators to hold most meetings via teleconference, ZOOM, or Skype.
• We are directing all staff (including DSPs) who experience the following symptoms – fever, cough or shortness of breath – to not report to work and to contact their primary care physician.
• Homes are being thoroughly and regularly cleaned with bleach or alcohol.
• Our offices are now posted with a notice requesting people who feel sick to not enter the building. This notice asks all other people entering the building to immediately use hand sanitizer at the receptionist’s deck.

Things are changing daily and we can expect our safeguards to change as well. We are in close communication with our provider agencies and N.H.’s Department of Health and Human Services. As such, we receive the latest information and guidance regarding best health practices and share it with our agencies.

I have every confidence that our approach will reduce as much as possible the impact on the people we support. And we will do our part to “flatten the curve” and not overwhelm our health care professionals.

Here are some resources that may be helpful:

Governor Sununu has set up a NH hotline (call 211) to field questions or concerns regarding this issue, or you can visit the NH website for latest updates: https://www.nh.gov/covid19/

Ancor (a national organization that supports D.D. agencies)    https://www.ancor.org/covid-19

Department of Homeland Security’s Ready.gov     http://www.ready.gov/

CDC Situation Summary    http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html

COVID-19 RESOURCES

Questions about COVID-19?
CALL 2-1-1 
Phone: 1-866-444-4211
TTY: 603-634-3388

State of NH COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control COVID-19

MDS Regional Resources Facebook Group

City of Keene CV Response Site

Cheshire Medical Center CV Site

Monadnock Hospital CV Site

Dartmouth-Hitchcock CV Site

How to Use Zoom Safely

Relias: CV Free Resources & Training for Healthcare Professionals, Families and Individuals

 

 

Other Resources

Family Support Resources

Disability Benefits Resources

Employment Resources

Transportation Resources

Housing Resources

NH Family Voices Maneuvering Through the Maze Resource Guide (updated January 2019)
Statewide guide to resources for people with physical, developmental, mental health and chronic health conditions and their families.

The River Center’s FACT Book Online
Local community resource guide for those living in the eastern Monadnock Region.