May 22: Coronavirus Updates from the CEO

May 22nd, 2020

Dear Members of The Arc Family:

As we enter the warmer spring and summer months, The Arc of Essex County continues to implement our comprehensive COVID-19 service and operations response and prevention plan. New information is available almost daily so our plans and strategies are reviewed regularly and updated according to the best and most relevant information from federal and state authorities. We are looking forward to begin implementing plans for the future with guidance to safely adjust for the reduction of restrictions.

New Measures:

  • A Thank you pizza lunch, from Cafe Villa sent Friday 5/22 to each residential program
  • Staff and residents enjoy the warmer weather outside (finally!) at newly re-opened local parks
  • Virtual activities calendars continue to increase and expand on www.arcessex.org
  • Increased COVID testing available and encouraged for staff and group home residents

Current Closures:

  • Shapiro Center for Early Intervention: Suspended; modified teleservices began 4/1
  • Stepping Stones School: In-school canceled through school year; remote learning continued
  • Stepping Stones Early Intervention: Began virtual session, 5/5
  • Children and Adult Group Respite and Recreation Programs: In-person activities suspended for consumers until DDD/DCF authorize return; virtual activities initiated
  • Adult Day Programs: In-person programs suspended until DDD authorizes return: virtual activities initiated

Ongoing Services:

  • Deployment of iPhones to consumers and programs for remote monitoring (Facetime)
  • Increased use of telemedicine services with Station MD, the DDC and other medical providers
  • Residential Services: No outside visitors; staff only engaged in essential community activities
  • Administrative Support: The main office is open with limited hours, staggered and remote staffing; only essential visitors
  • Increased screening, including infrared temperature checks, for everyone entering residences
  • Program Administration: Staff deployed to Arc locations to support residential services
  • Support staff shopping teams continue to pick up and deliver items including groceries to group homes as needed.
  • Containment scheduling implemented which assigns staff to work in specific programs only in order to minimize the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19
  • Masks distributed to all locations for staff to utilize during shifts in program and when engaged in essential community activities
  • Increased use of video and audio teleservices to assist with social isolation, engagement with families, and other Stay-At-Home challenges
  • Additional supplies of N95 and KN95 masks and isolation gowns have been secured and deployed including donated PPE from United Way and DDD.
  • Increased and expanded COVID-19 stipends for staff working residential shifts
  • Expanded opportunities to spread awareness and appreciation of our DSP’s (Jersey 4 Jersey, local, state news articles, and lawn signs throughout Essex County)
  • Virtual Clubs, events and activities were rolled out to group home and at-home consumers

It has been over 2 months that The Arc of Essex County, staff, consumers and families have partnered to manage all the changes, guidelines and restrictions and weather the accompanying anxiety, fear and confusion that the COVID-19 health emergency has thrown at us all. While the end may not seem near, our Arc Family will persevere because everyone – all partners – have been nothing short of amazing. We will not just get through this together – we will come out of this stronger, more resilient and better connected.

Thank you to all of our Arc Essex family partners.

Stay safe and be well.

Linda's Signature.jpg

Linda C. Lucas
Chief Executive Officer