After a 6-month (!!!) closing due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, we are now reopened! Well, mostly.
First off, we can’t begin to tell you how exciting this is. When we had to close our doors way back in March, we figured it would be for just a few weeks, or a month at most. Boy, were we wrong!
But, since our first and foremost concern is always the health and welfare of our participants, we understand why we had to shut down, and are happy to report that our participants have all fared well during the quarantine period. We know it wasn’t easy for us, and it certainly wasn’t easy for them. And now we are excited to be able to see them again, get them working, and helping them become successful and productive as they work toward becoming more independent.
That said, this reopening wouldn’t be possible without quite a few changes here at the ODC. Here are a few things that are different for the time being:
- Smaller group of participants – While we would love to reopen our doors to everyone right away, we realize and appreciate the limits that have been placed on us. In order to properly social distance, we have been having transition meetings with all of our participants and their support team in order to make sure they are ready to come back and can work within our new constraints. Eventually, everyone will be back, but it is going to happen over a period of time, and based on the guidelines given to us from the state and county agencies to which we report and are held accountable. More on this later.
- Covid guidelines and screening are in place – One of the biggest changes you’ll see will be evident before you even enter the building. We have put some screening procedures in place to make sure that everyone who enters the building is healthy. Covid-19 has been particularly devastating to portions of the developmental disability community, and we want to ensure that the ODC is a safe environment for our participants. Before participants can even leave their vehicles each morning, we will be taking temperatures, asking screening questions, and make sure we have the most updated emergency contact info. Participants and their families/support staffs will be receiving more complete information on this. Social distancing and masks are being required of all staff, participants, and visitors.
- Cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning – One thing all of us have learned during this pandemic is the importance of cleaning. We are set up to do lots of hand washing, sanitizing, and cleaning of all areas and surfaces on a regular basis throughout the day. Additionally, we have purchased some high tech equipment that does a heavy duty cleaning/disinfecting of the building on a weekly basis.
- Standard Operating Procedure is no longer standard – No one likes change, but we have had to make some changes internally in order to mitigate contact and make our job of cleaning and contact tracing easier. While much of what we do will be the same as before, there will be some noticeable changes. The lunch room is being closed, and participants will be staying in their work areas for lunch and some of their breaks. Additionally, our regularly scheduled breaks and lunch times are going to be manipulated so that everyone gets breaks when they need one (wearing a mask all day isn’t easy!), but that they are able to do so safely. But our staff is ready to walk alongside our participants and help them through these changes.
- Emergency alert system – That’s a fancy way of saying that we are using a new way of reaching out to the family, friends, and support staff of our participants should a Covid-related emergency arise. Our hope is that we don’t ever have to use this, but if for some reason we would have to shut down quickly, it is often difficult to get in touch with the people we need to. This new text-based system will be used for emergencies, as well as for weather related delays and closures as winter approaches. We will use this only when needed, and we can also add you to our email database for these alerts if you wish. In order sign up for these alerts, all you need to do is text “ODC” to the number 80123. You should get a reply letting you know that you have successfully signed up. If you are having difficulty, please send your phone number and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will add you to the list manually. We will still use the other systems of contact, such as Facebook, our website, and area media outlets, but this new system will be more proactive and faster.
Over time, our hope is that things will slowly be able to revert back to more of what we think of as “normal” here at the ODC, but we are also realistic. Some of these changes may become permanent.
As for participants, hang in there. Our program specialists have been working hard to schedule transition meetings with each of them. If you are part of a support team for a participant, please direct all questions to their PS. Our goal is to get EVERYONE back here as soon as we are permitted and are able, but it will take some time. Please be patient with us.
This is a new chapter for the ODC, and while some things have changed, our core mission and goals have not!
We are still here to create an environment of success for our participants, and to do so with their physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing in mind.
And with that, welcome back to the ODC! We can’t wait to see all of you really soon!