A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO KATHLEEN DURKIN
COVID-19 – OPERATIONAL UPDATES (As of 9/10/20) – See changes to Community Living and Contract Employment
While Maryland has moved into phase 3 of reopening, the Governor’s plan continues to recognize that additional cautions are needed for vulnerable populations, including people with developmental disabilities. Our goal in this pandemic remains the health and safety of the people we support and our employees. We will maintain a cautious approach guided by current conditions and guidance from the Health Department and the CDC, and DDA.
Restrictions on visits and community outings are being eased for people in our Community Living supported homes, but with important conditions to maintain safety. Please note this could change based on the positivity rate in Baltimore City and County or other COVID related factors. Given the vulnerability of so many people who we support, it’s essential that everyone continue all the safety protocols and procedures. Sanitation procedures, hand washing and social distancing are still recommended to the fullest extent possible.
Visitors in the Home:
Visitors in the home are still restricted at this time. However, family or friends are welcome to visit on outside porch or back yard areas – or even through windows. At this time, visitors are still not permitted inside the home. Visitors must wear masks at all times, maintain 6 feet apart physically distancing, and use proper hand washing hygiene.
Visits to Family Homes:
In this stage, visits to the home of a family member of those supported will now be permitted under the following terms:
- Prior to the visit, the Coordinator or House Manager will screen the hosting family over the phone with the symptom screening tool, and will cancel the visit if any symptoms are present.
- If a visitor was in close contact with or in the home of someone who has been sick during the previous 14 days, the visit should not be permitted.
- The family will need to agree that if anyone becomes sick or tests positive for COVID-19 during the visit, that the person supported will need to quarantine in their family’s home, but separated from the sick family members, until 14 days have passed since their last exposure to positive or sick person.
- All social distancing, hand sanitizing, mask compliance protocols, temperature taking, etc. must be followed.
Appointments may resume fully in the community unless otherwise indicated by the physician. Remote appointments are still encouraged when possible and when advised by the physician.
People we support may enjoy activities in the community such as trips to the grocery store, local parks, fishing, etc. under the following conditions:
- Physical distancing of 6 feet or greater needs to be maintained at all times.
- The person supported is willing and able to wear a mask.
- State and local guidelines are being followed for the location of the outing.
- Hand hygiene is followed carefully for both the person(s) supported and their support staff.
- A maximum of one person per window in any vehicle.
- Vehicle should be sanitized prior to and following each use.
- If anyone on the outing shows signs of illness, the activity should cease.
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)
- Day centers remain closed. A growing number of “classes” for skill-building, fun, and social interaction are offered online daily. Staff are available to help families and people supported so they can navigate these virtual offerings.
- 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, go to: www.thearcbaltimore.org/virtualday
- Beginning in August, staff will be offering home porch visits for people from the centers who live with their families or other residential providers. We know that individuals and families need more contact and interaction, and we want to provide some relief and activity one-on-one where we can do this safely and productively. That starts with keeping a safe distance apart and wearing masks.
- While an outdoor visit on a front porch or backyard is preferable, high temperatures may make this difficult on some of our hotter summer days. If agreeable to the household and the safe distance and masking is followed, some indoor visits may be possible also.
- So for those in our day services, be thinking what you would like to do over a porch visit. We have lots of games and crafts we’d like to bring out for some time together with old friends.
- 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.
Plans are underway for the return of nearly half of the supported workers in our landscaping/janitorial/policing contract employment.
Individuals who meet the definition of “vulnerable” are not expected to return, unless they can get a doctor’s clearance that it is safe to do so. It remains critical and our priority that we keep people safe during this continuing pandemic.
Current guidance from the CDC and other sources defines vulnerable as: Elderly individuals over age 65 and/or individuals with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.
In addition, we will still need to limit the number of people who can safely return at this time because we can only transport a limited number in each vehicle. A strict regimen for wearing personal protective equipment and maintaining safe distance and other practices while at work must be followed. For those who report to The Arc’s Seton facility, there will be many new directions for entry, closed break rooms to prevent gatherings, daily temperature checks, and other safety practices.
If you have been identified for this next wave of returning workers, you will be contacted by your supervisor or goal implementation specialist (GIS). A team meeting may be arranged to discuss the next steps and to determine if any additional medical clearance is needed.
Those individuals who remain on furlough will be contacted later this fall to confirm current circumstances and options for alternative supports until further reopening may occur or the State of Emergency is lifted.
- 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. 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.