A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO KATHLEEN DURKIN
COVID-19 – OPERATIONAL UPDATES (As of 11/17/20)
In light of the rising rates of COVID in Maryland and across the country, and Governor Hogan’s recent announcements and cautions, The Arc Baltimore is taking measures to respond and continue our efforts to keep people we support and our staff safe from the virus. We recognize that we are entering a period of high risk, and that we need to double our efforts to stay the course.
First, we want to encourage EVERYONE to maintain the most basic safety practices. Wear your mask. Wash hands frequently and sanitize your home and work areas. Maintain social distance of 6 ft. whenever and wherever possible. It is critical that these fundamentals continue. It is up to each of us to do so.
While each program area has varying practices for safe operations, we are reinforcing these basics with everyone and we ask every staff member to do the same with co-workers and people we support. In addition, as difficult as it will be, we are discouraging our staff and those we support from gathering with family and friends over the holidays (beyond their immediate household). This is going to be hard on everyone, but the risk is too great that gatherings at Thanksgiving and over the December holidays will lead to more cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. At this time, family/casual gatherings are a lead cause of the spread of the virus.
In addition, any staff or person supported who travels outside of Maryland to a state that is considered a COVID hotspot (over a 10% positivity rate) must quarantine for two weeks and be tested before returning to work or their program site. Staff must report travel to HR; staff must report travel of supported individuals to their division or department head.
As mentioned, each program and area of operation is looking at what additionally is needed to ensure safety. The following is a sampling. Please refer to the division head or director in each program area for further guidance.
- We are still unable to allow family members to visit inside our Community Living homes.
- Porch/outside visits remain an option for visits with family, but all must wear face masks and maintain social distance.
- Visits by individuals to their family homes is discouraged at this time, but can be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require approval by Kim McGuire, Vice President of Community and Family Living.
- It will be doubly important over the holidays for our staff to help individuals connect remotely with family and friends by phone, Facetime, zoom, or other means.
- According to recent guidance from DDA, we are now providing all direct support professionals with surgical masks to wear at all times in the home. These will be available on an ongoing basis.
Please continue to be vigilant and follow the outlined protocols at all times to ensure the ongoing health and safety of those we support, our incredible staff team, and all their families. The Arc Baltimore will stay on top of new information and will update and disseminate new procedures as appropriate. Any questions about this policy may be directed to the relevant Program Coordinator or Program Director, or contact email@example.com.
DAY PROGRAMS (Virtual classes and porch visits)
- Remote classes for learning, seeing friends, physical activity, and other enjoyment remain our primary outreach for people in our day programs.
- Participants are having a lot of fun with daily chat groups, computer classes, musical theater, art classes, job training, and other offerings.
- To see the current list of what’s available: www.thearcbaltimore.org/virtualday
- Porch visits can continue; in-home visits will have restrictions.
- Supports continue for all who continue their jobs in essential businesses including hospitals and grocery stores, and we are reaching out to supported workers who may now be able to return to other businesses that are reopening. We are actively seeking new job opportunities as more businesses reopen.
- Caseworkers and other employment staff remain in contact with those furloughed from independent employment to verify each person’s circumstances and current needs.
- Protocols for PPE, social distancing, vehicle use, and on-site requirements must be followed.
- Any further return of supported workers is on hold
- While recent classes of Project SEARCH have celebrated virtual graduations, participants continue to meet and prepare for job opportunities. This also applies to participants in Career Catalyst.
OUTREACH, CLINICAL, AND FAMILY SERVICES
- Staff team members remain available for inquiries about program services and other resource needs. Call 410-296-2272 ext. 5310.
- Supports to people in their families’ homes continue, for some remotely and where physical support is needed, in-person.
- Moms and Dads and other caregivers continue to meet online in peer support groups and have been finding great joy and relief in connecting with one another. Schedules for these meetings are on our website.
- Social workers continue support to our Foster Care parents who have the added challenges of parenting their kids who are not able to attend camps or ESY.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE) AND FUNDING
The Arc Baltimore continues to acquire personal protective equipment including surgical masks, cloth masks, N95 masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields. We continue hazard pay for our frontline employees in instances where COVID tests are pending or confirmed.
Significant questions remain on our State reimbursement rates in the new budget set for July 1. Hard-fought gains in the General Assembly to win the minimally needed 4% increase to keep direct support wages ahead of the minimum wage are at great risk. Added costs to acquire PPE and lost fundraising revenue are causing a significant funding gap for The Arc. If you can, please contribute today to our Coronavirus Response Fund.
MAIN OFFICE AND SETON EMPLOYMENT CENTER
Our offices on York Road and at Seton remain closed to visitors. The majority of administrative staff continue to work remotely, but are available by their normal email and telephone extensions. Any team member needed on-site must wear a mask and maintain social distance. Personnel in offices are limited to 25% capacity and with staggered schedules to ensure 6 ft. social distancing. All training is being conducted online.
Let’s stay together. Thank you.
TWO WAYS TO HELP!
We continue to respond to the Coronavirus threat and have taken many steps to keep people we support and our staff safe. At this time, we are turning to our community for support. If you want to help, we’ve provided two easy ways to do so!
WHAT IS COVID-19 AND WHAT CAN I DO?
The Arc Maryland and the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council partnered to create a COVID-19 resource guide that is written in plain language. Check out the information on symptoms, hygiene protocols, and suggestions for how to spend your time indoors. The last page has a list of additional resources.
Dial 2-1-1 for help. The answers you’re looking for are just three digits away. Information, community resources, and referrals on a variety of health and human service issues are available with one easy call. A trusted and caring call specialist is there to answer the helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline provides individuals and families one easy-to-remember hot line for assistance.
Watch for additional notifications from The Arc. Staff should contact their managers for further information. Families and other agencies should also use their normal contacts with questions as needed. This will also help us identify new information that we can distribute. If you do not receive a satisfactory response, email firstname.lastname@example.org.