At Community Systems, Inc., the safety of those we support and our employees is our uncompromising priority, and we are closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19). We are staying informed with medical professionals, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other government agencies as the situation evolves. CSI needs to ensure it takes all steps to comprehensively evaluate our processes and develop plans to limit exposure and respond when potential exposures and active cases of COVID-19 occur. CSI will be posting this information, updates and our plans on our blog.
While there are no known cases or reported exposures at any of the supports operated by Community Systems, Inc., we are aware of a number of confirmed cases in each state we that operate. We continue to monitor this situation and want to make certain that everyone is informed as we depart from our normal routines and make adjustments. We are taking a number of precautionary measures to limit exposure and minimize risk. With that, I would like to share some additional details about the health and safety precautions being taken at Community Systems, Inc. Also some changes in business processes.
The guidance is that the most powerful way to minimize the spread of coronavirus is limiting interaction in congregate settings and with other people in general. To avoid the potential spread of coronavirus, all people supported will remain home and not attend Day Programs or other vocational, congregate settings. CSI CT has closed its day program. Community Systems, Inc. takes the health and safety of all individuals seriously, but we cannot risk exposing anyone to peers who may not implement the stringent strategies needed to reduce exposure. We are asking all staff, families, state and county employees and guardians to implement social distancing measures wherever and whenever possible.
All meetings have been suspended or will occur remotely. Travel has been canceled and all employees have been educated on the CDC guidelines to limit exposure.
Actions to maintain supports and operations:
- Each CSI has identified people supported whom are high risk. We will monitor the temperature of all supported daily. Any person showing any signs of respiratory illness will be isolated within their home and their primary physician will be contacted. CSI will follow the recommendations of their primary care physician. As always, if an emergency occurs, 911 will be called.
- Each CSI has updated their Continuity of Operations Plan. These plans help to guide operations if a significant disaster or pandemic occurs.
- Each support has in place supplies to allow people to remain in their home for two weeks. There are additional masks, gloves and other supplies available at our office.
- All people have adequate medications and other medical supplies in place.
- Isolation plans have been developed for each home. The plan identifies how staff will respond should reported an exposure occur and how a person exposed or diagnosed will be isolated in the home.
- Each CSI has in place a succession plan that identifies alternative people, by name if any key person is out of service. This includes staffing plans for each home.
Each CSI has in place plans and the ability to continue all critical operations remotely, giving us the ability to close the offices to limit exposure. This include payroll for employees, support and payments to the homes, managing and scheduleing staff, paying bills, and billing the funders. We are prepare to work remotely if needed. Until that happens, we have asked only essential personnel be at the offices to decrease the traffic flow and potential exposure.
We have used the following guidance from ANCOR (the American Network of Community Options and Resources) to lead our actions:
Above all, it is critical to understand that preparedness is important in any situation where potential risks exist, but as of right now, the CDC is reinforcing a message consistent with other leading public health experts and organizations: most people in the United States have little immediate risk of exposure to the virus. Based on our consultation with national experts on public health and epidemiology, we concur with this position and remind our members that precautions are warranted, but panicking is not.
CSI has compiled a list of immediate actions related to the coronavirus outbreak. All employees have been given the following guidelines:
- How to keep from getting infected:
- Limit large group activities.
- Stay away from other people. "Social distancing" is the best way to avoid getting sick.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Don’t shake hands with other people.
- Be aware of how often you touch your face and try to break that habit now.
- Don’t forget that your eyes are just as much of a “front door” for the virus as your mouth and nose.
- What to do if you think you’re infected:
- Isolate yourself and warn family members.
- If you haven’t traveled in the last week or two, and there aren’t known coronavirus cases in your area already, it’s likely you have the normal flu.
- Call your doctor.
- If you go to a hospital or other healthcare facility, wear your protective gear and don’t take it off unless a pro tells you to. If you don’t have proper protective gear, use anything possible, such as a bandana or t-shirt over your mouth and nose while wearing sunglasses and winter gloves.
Additionally, CSI is taking steps to ensure our staff is prepared:
- Identify Key positions and functions in each team and evaluate if resources are in place for operations to continue remotely for two weeks if necessary
- CSI is considering how to support employees financially if isolation for two weeks occurs.
- In each support, identify at-risk individuals. Develop individual health response plans for each person or home. Include day services and implications.
- Always have at least a two week supply of meds on hand. If not available at the end of the month, establish with pharmacy how this can be arranged at the time a decision is made to isolate in place. Also have two weeks' supply of medical treatments, personal hygiene supplies, etc.
- Ensure each home has five day supply of food and some extra water, masks, gloves, and disinfectant. At the office create a number (determined by total supports) “kits” and have available extra food and supplies if the home needs to be isolated for two weeks. This may involve staff and family isolating in a group home, people supported potential going to staff homes, the two weeks isolation would eliminate changing shifts and require all in the support to isolate.
- Plan if two-week quarantine for each home is needed.
- Plan if day programs close for a long period.
- Limit employees working across multiple homes to limit potential exposures.
- Risk and exposure within the CSI environment will be evaluated by a team comprised of the Director of Nursing, Executive Director, Program Director and CEO and COO.
I believe CSI is well-positioned to follow the advice of the experts to do our best to help the people CSI supports and our employees to remain healthy and contain risk as best possible. I will be posting updates on our blog page daily. Please reach out to the manager in your support if there are any questions or concerns.
For continued updates from Community Systems on the coronavirus' impact on our operations, please visit our blog. Further updates will be published there.