August 28: Coronavirus Update from the CEO
August 28th, 2020
Dear Members of The Arc Family:
Although it seems as if the state of NJ has been starting and stopping through re-opening phases, The Arc of Essex County continues to move deliberately and consistently through our plans for programs and services to re-open or to be reinvented. Changes to guidelines from federal and state authorities come out each week requiring a review of our multi-faceted plan ensuring that any needed adjustments work in harmony with NJ’s plan, especially with the guidelines issued by the Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities.
While The Arc of Essex County is focused on ensuring that every plan fundamentally addresses the health and safety guidelines and protocols to mitigate and manage the health risk this pandemic presents, we are committed to moving forward, taking steps to create opportunities to support our children and adults and their families. We continue to implement our comprehensive COVID-19 service and operations response and prevention plan and we strive to address the many strategies for re-opening, re-imagining, and reinventing approaches to deliver programs, services, and supports.
- Camp Hope successfully completed 5 weeks of summer camp for 63 Campers with no reported COVID cases for counselors or staff
- Family indoor visits to group home residents initiated with protocols
- Use of day program locations for individual groups of residential staff and consumers began; all are happy to get out of the house to a safe location for a fun activity
Current Status of Programs and Services:
- Shapiro Center for Early Intervention: Teleservices continue; small center-based service option begins; in-home option in development
- Stepping Stones School: In-person classes begin for the school year on 9/8/2020; 100% remote option continues
- Stepping Stones Early Intervention: Virtual sessions continue through September
- Children and Adult Group Respite and Recreation Programs: In-person activities suspended for consumers until DDD/DCF authorize return; virtual activities continue and expand
- Adult Day Programs: In-person group programs suspended until DDD authorizes return; virtual activities continue and expand
- Community Based Supports and Individual Respite: In development for September
- iPhones, iPads, Chromebooks and other technology equipment distributed to consumers and programs for multiple remote uses continues and expands
- Expanded use of telemedicine and at-home medical services with Station MD, the DDC, and other medical providers
- Residential Services: Family outside and inside visits occurring; approved community activities for staff and residential consumers in a cohort
- Administrative Support: The main office is open 9am-4pm with staggered and remote staffing; only expected and scheduled visitors are permitted
- Continued screening, including infrared temperature checks, for everyone entering any Arc location
- Program Administration: Staff deployed to Arc locations to support residential services, conduct virtual activities, and manage changing administrative functions
- Containment scheduling continues which assigns staff to work in specific programs and with assigned groups to minimize the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19, including Stepping Stones School
- Universal masking is required for all staff at all times in program and when engaged in community activities
- Increased use of video and audio teleservices to assist with social isolation, engagement with families, and other stay-at-home challenges
- Supplies of PPE are secured, inventoried, and deployed regularly, as needed
- COVID-19 stipends applied for staff working residential shifts continue
- New and continuing opportunities to spread awareness and appreciation of our DSP’s through news articles, social media, lawn signs, branded masks
- Virtual activities calendars continue to increase and expand for at-home and residential consumers on www.arcessex.org; virtual billing continues to increase
It’s hard to believe that summer will be over soon and it’s been almost 6 months since the shut-down began that so greatly impacted our community. But, The Arc of Essex County family has prevailed! We figured out how to stay connected and engaged while remaining safe and well. We kept a positive outlook and looked forward to each next day for something good and hopeful. While the world is not as it once was, The Arc of Essex County community is successfully taking steps (albeit baby steps!) to create and engage a different world with a “new normal”.
The Arc of Essex County would not have come this far nor can it look to a successful future without the amazing work and support of our family and friends.
Thank you, all.
Stay safe and be well.
Linda C. Lucas
Chief Executive Officer
The Arc of Essex County