Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
LAST UPDATE – 5/5/2020
April 23, 2020
Since the onset of this virus reaching our state, our teams have worked diligently and proactively with the New York State Department of Health and Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, as well as The Arc New York, to ensure that we were implementing best practices and adhering to all policies and procedures that put the safety and well-being of our individuals first.
These measures included suspending all day programming, temporarily ending visitation at our supported houses, implementing a shelter-in-place model for staffing at our houses to minimize potential exposure, cancelling community outings, and implementing personal protective equipment policies across the agency. While these measures each brought their own challenges, the primary goal was to mitigate exposure of both our staff and individuals to this virus as it spread locally, and our staff worked tirelessly to prioritize everyone’s safety.
Our teams have been aggressively tracking the spread of COVID-19 throughout our community since it reached Broome County, and we’re proud of the groundwork that was quickly laid to ensure best practices were being adhered to in the interest of everyone’s safety.
While it’s unfortunate that we’re now seeing confirmed diagnoses in both the individuals we serve and the frontline staff that are supporting them, we continue that aggressive tracking and are in constant communication with our Program Managers to monitor any and all symptoms that may be appearing in our residences. As cases are confirmed, we’ve taken a conservative staffing approach to mitigate any chances of potential exposure and again reduce the number of staff entering our houses and interacting with our individuals.
At this time, we remain focused on the recovery of all individuals we support and any staff who are grappling with this virus, as well as remain committed to protecting against the spread of the virus. We’re optimistic, as we’ve already begun to see healing in several of our initially diagnosed individuals, and hope for their continued recovery, and will continue to do all we can to mitigate any potential exposure in our other residences.
It cannot be emphasized enough how much we admire the heart, determination, and willingness to serve that is being shown by employees across our great organization, some offering to shelter-in-place for as long as two weeks to combat this virus. These are really challenging times, but we’ve ensured our staff are well-equipped, trained and prepared, and we have full confidence in their ability to fight this fight, and we’ve never felt more proud of these dedicated and incredible colleagues.
While it felt inevitable that this virus would one day reach ACHIEVE’s door, our leadership team is confident in both the efforts that have been, and will continue to be made to minimize the spread to both our individuals and our staff, as well as our community at large, and we remain committed to, and proud of our direct support staff who are heroically defending those we serve.
Thank you and stay healthy and safe.
4/15/2020 - Emergency Respite Program
We are excited to announce the opening of on-site emergency respite services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities diagnosed with, or recovering from, acute COVID-19 symptoms, or requiring care while a family member is in recovery.
In partnership with the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, ACHIEVE is proud to assist the community in these difficult times and offer temporary emergency respite services across six counties for individuals who are leaving the hospital after a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment, as well as individuals who are leaving the hospital after a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment, as well as individuals who have been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive and are being diverted from hospitals because their symptoms don’t require hospitalization.
Located at ACHIEVE’s Cutler Pond Road day habilitation located in Binghamton, the 30 bed emergency respite services will be staffed 24 hours by highly trained registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and direct support professionals. All referrals will be made to the local NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Regional Office, who will conduct pre-screening and make placement determinations, with an intended length of stay of two weeks or less.
As the Southern Tier’s largest provider of services to the intellectually and developmentally disabled, it’s vitally important for us to be a resource to the community and do our part to provide assistance to the disabled, their families, and our local hospitals, while maintaining the highest standards of safety and health. I’m grateful that we’ve been able to retain the dedicated and willing staff to make this program a reality and be a resource that the Southern Tier can utilize in a time of crisis.
4/9/2020 - Positive COVID-19 Cases
Alongside our friends and supporters, ACHIEVE is currently experiencing some of the more challenging days in our agency’s 68-year history. We’re all in this together, and with the help and support of one another, will emerge from this crisis a stronger and more unified community.
Over the last twenty-four hours, it was identified that two individuals within our care tested positive for COVID-19. Plans are already in place to actively monitor the health and well-being of the other individuals and staff who have been in contact with them.
In consultation with the NYS Department of Health, our Residential Leadership and Nursing Teams, as well as our Direct Support Professionals, have implemented proactive measures to prevent the spread of the virus. The safety and health of our staff and individuals is the highest priority at ACHIEVE, and while we were anticipating a positive diagnosis within our agency eventually, over the past weeks our Executive Team has taken a proactive approach to minimize the risk of infection, including implementing a series of measures directed by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and Department of Health.
These challenges are very real, and I’m so proud of our frontline staff of nurses and Direct Support Professionals who are actively implementing every precaution to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable. I want to personally extend my own gratitude, as well as that of our Board of Directors and leadership team, to each of them for their bravery and dedication to those we serve. Our staff are such loving and caring people, and the individuals we support need them now more than ever. I appreciate, from the bottom of my heart, all that is being sacrificed and accomplished across our agency.
We will continue to implement and enforce best practices agency-wide to prepare our staff and our facilities for the apex and the height of this pandemic, and remain committed to doing all that we can to ensure the safety of those we serve and the dedicated staff members supporting them.
These are trying times, and I’m #ACHIEVEProud of the work being done across this agency to ensure the health, safety and well-being of every individual and staff member, and look forward to the day we can all truly be together as a community.
4/8/2020 - Shelter in Place Model
Starting this week, we began implementing “shelter in place” schedules for staff in our residences designed to limit and greatly reduce the amount of shift turnover and employees in and out of the IRA’s. At this time, every IRA within ACHIEVE’s three county span has created and implemented these new staffing patterns.
ACHIEVE takes the care of the individual’s entrusted to us as a momentously important responsibility, and this was one of the last measures that could have been taken, and was taken with the utmost consideration and with great care.
We want to acknowledge the Direct Support Professionals who have agreed to be a part of these extended shift models. Thank you for your willingness to continue to provide the utmost level of quality and care possible during this crisis. Your dedication to our individuals and personal commitment to their safety are the backbones of our agency, and we cannot do any of this without you, and express our most sincere appreciation. We are #ACHIEVEproud and #ACHIEVEstrong because of you.
Additional considerations that have been made at this time to limit community exposure for both staff and individuals:
- “Runners” have been identified in each residence to assist with last minute, urgent or sudden needs that a staff on shift may encounter.
- Nursing staff will still be required to come in and out of the IRAs for assessment purposes. ACHIEVE is extremely lucky to have a team of skilled and experienced nurses who will continue to provide support to staff and individuals through this crisis.
- Our staff continue to reinforce ACHIEVE’s visitor management system which we put in place about a month ago. Although no outside visitors are permitted at this time, employees entering a residence will be asked the three screening questions and have their temperatures taken.
3/19/2020 - Suspension of Programs
In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities has directed all providers to temporarily suspend operations of site-based day programs until further notice.
At ACHIEVE, these closures include:
- Day Habilitation Services – Suspended
- Community-Based Prevocational Services – Suspended
- Site-Based Prevocational Services – Suspended
- Residential Visitation – Suspended, unless medically or clinically necessary
These are rapidly changing developments, and we’re committed to keeping this post updated as program statuses change. We thank everyone for their continued patience and cooperation during these challenging times.
3/16/2020 - Limitation of Services
In an effort to do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and with the support and cooperation of the families of the individuals we serve, we will be limiting our Day Habilitation services in all three counties, and requiring all employees who do not provide direct services, to work remotely for a minimum of two weeks.
This was a difficult decision to make, but one that our team feels is in the best interest of our employees, the individuals we serve, and our community as a whole.
Sanitation, Cleaning, and Prevention
What can we do to protect our individuals and our team from contracting the COVID-19?
Everyday Preventative Care! Prevention is key!
There is currently no vaccine to prevent Coronavirus. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Below is a list of preventative measures to take to reduce the spread of respiratory illness:
- Education. Education prompts best practice and minimizes unnecessary panic.
- Voluntary Home Rest. Individuals should be staying home when they are sick with respiratory disease symptoms.
- Respiratory Etiquette. Lead by example, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the contaminated tissue in the TRASH.
- Face Coverings. The CDC stated that they recommend that anyone who is going out in public areas cover their face with a cloth face covering. This could be a cloth face mask, a scarf or even a bandana. We request that anytime you are out in public on ACHIEVE business that you utilize a face covering as described. Our individuals should also be utilizing said face coverings, for their protection.
- Hand Hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds; especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Wash your hands BEFORE all MEALS and snacks.
- Hand Hygiene. Using soap and water when washing your hands is the best method for avid hand hygiene. However, where water is not present, hand sanitizer is a great alternative. Please do not use hand sanitizer if your hands are visibly dirty. Use soap and water as the surfactants in soap lift soil and microbes from skin, allowing for a better clean.
- Environment. Routinely clean living areas and frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as bathrooms, Kitchens, dinning room table, TV remotes, door knobs, toilet handles, telephones, etc. Standard disinfectants are effective. Make sure soap and sanitizer dispensers stay filled at all times.
25th Annual Pin Crushing Classic – April 4th
After much monitoring, deliberation and consideration, including feedback from some members of our Board, and in the interest of staff, individuals and doing our part for the health and safety of our community in the wake of COVID-19, the Pin Crushing Committee has made the difficult and unprecedented decision to cancel the bowling tournament for this year. To all the Pin Crushers out there, we extend our deepest apologies, but please know that we’ve already started planning and are looking forward to our 26th annual tournament in 2021!
ACHIEVE Summer Program
The Executive Leadership Team at ACHIEVE has made the difficult decision to suspend our Summer Program of 2020. We have been carefully watching and assessing the current environment, and making decisions to minimize risk to those we support. The decision to suspend the camp this year came with both sadness, but also with the pride of knowing that we continue to do all that we can to slow the spread of the virus in our community, and to prioritize the health and safety of the individuals and families we support, as well as our staff. In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to families directly to assess the needs families may have for this summer and find ways we can offer support. Please contact Catina Sutton, Director of Family Supports and Services at 607-231-5209 with any questions or specific needs.
Support Our Community
We’re Staying Busy!
Follow us on Facebook to keep up-to-date with how we at ACHIEVE are staying active during this time.
HELP STOP THE SPREAD OF THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
Protect Yourself and Others
Practice Social Distancing
Even if you feel well, stay at home as much as possible. In public, keep at least 6 feet distance from others. Avoid unnecessary appointments.
Wash Your Hands, Cover Your Cough
Cover your cough and sneezes. Use your elbow or a tissue. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water.
Take Caution with Those At-Risk
Take special caution to avoid exposing the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. Avoid visiting those most at risk, call instead.
What is COVID-19?
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.
COVID-19 New York State Tracker
NYS Department of Health COVID-19 Information
Infectious disease experts say most cases of COVID-19 are mild to moderate, like the common cold. But it can be more severe in older adults and people with chronic health conditions.
Most of the early reported cases had contact with a seafood and live animal market, suggesting an animal source of the outbreak. However, most cases are now likely to be spread from person to person by droplets when coughing. Since this virus is very new, health authorities continue to carefully watch how this virus spreads.
There are simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family.
Feeling Stressed about COVID-19?
Managing Anxiety in an Anxiety-Provoking Situation
The outbreak of COVID-19 around the world has led to the spread of
fear and panic for individuals and communities. In addition to following
physical precautions guidelines, individuals should be taking care of
their psychological well-being.
Call the NYS Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 for Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The NYS Office for Mental Health has established a volunteer hotline for anyone feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed and can be reached at 1-844-863-9314
To speak with someone at ACHIEVE, please call 607.723.8361 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
ACHIEVE Staff Resources
Our staff are our heros – and we wish to keep everyone safe, healthy, and updated on important information and resources. All of our updates and resources for staff can be found on their Paylocity Community tab, which you can access here.
ACHIEVE Staffing COVID-19 Benefits
Please know how deeply we value your commitment to our agency and the individuals we support. We know that you may have heard of some benefits available to you because of new laws passed to support the workforce across our country during the COVID emergency. This can be a confusing time and we hope the following information is helpful to you.
Economic Impact Payments
The federal government will be sending out relief checks to a large number of people, as follows:
- $1,200 – if you file your taxes individually and have an “adjusted gross income” of no more than $75,000
- $2,400 – if you file as a married couple with a joint return and your income is no more than $150,000
- Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child
- Checks should begin to be issued around the third week of April
For more information visit: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know
State & Federal Tax Returns
Normally, personal income tax returns must be filed by April 15 each year. Due to the COVID emergency, NYS and the federal government have extended this deadline until July 15, 2020. In NY, if you had tax payments due on April 15, those may also be deferred until July 15, 2020 without penalties or interest. See for more info: https://www.tax.ny.gov/press/alerts/nys-tax-response-to-covid-19.htm
Evictions & Foreclosure Proceedings Relief
On March 20, NYS announced that for the next 90 days there will be no enforcement of eviction proceedings for residential leases and that mortgage foreclosure proceedings will be suspended for 90 days. This does not necessarily mean that you rent or mortgage payments are not due or that it is waived. It means that your landlord cannot evict you for nonpayment of rent for at least 90 days (until about mid-June). For more information click here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2028-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency
Student Loan Relief
Certain federal student loan payments (including principal and interest) will be temporarily suspended through September 30. Interest will not accrue during this 6-month period. Not every federal loan qualifies for this relief and borrowers should contact the company that services their loan to find out whether they qualify for this relief. For more information click here: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus
If you or a loved one needs to file for unemployment, please visit https://labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm for additional information. Applications for unemployment can be completed online at www.labor.ny.gov
Life, Property (Homeowners and Renters) & Casualty Insurance
If you have a life insurance policy and can demonstrate financial hardship, you may qualify for relief for 90 days from the payment of your premiums.
For property (homeowners and renters) and casualty insurance policies, you may also qualify for a 60-day grace period for the payment of premiums if you are experiencing financial hardship.
You should reach out to your insurance carrier for more details.
If you or a family member find yourself without health insurance, you may be able to obtain coverage through NYS during a special enrollment period that runs from 4/1-4/15. In addition, if a loved one loses their job due to COVID, you may be able to apply with NYS for coverage. Visit www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov or call 855-355-5777 for additional information.
Employee Assistance Program & Other Resources
NY has made an emotional support line available for any New Yorker experiencing increased anxiety due to this crisis. The line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals, with training in crisis counseling. The number is 1-844-863-9314.
Please also remember the resources made available to you through our Employee Assistance Program. NexGen EAP is your confidential EAP, Work/Life, Wellness, and Health Advocacy benefit provided by ACHIEVE at no cost to you. CALL 1.800.327.2255 or ONLINE www.nexgeneap.com
The information provided in this alert is not legal or tax advice. It is for general informational
purposes. You should consult your attorney or tax professional with any questions.
It’s okay not to be okay.
Mental Health is just as important as Physical Help.
We encourage everyone to call the New York State Emotion Support Hotline for free and confidential support.