Update 8-15-2020: New York State has entered Phase 4 in its reopening plan. Around the country we are seeing increases in coronavirus cases while in the Tristate area we are experiencing a decline in cases. We have been working diligently to develop plans that will ensure the safety of the individuals we support, our staff, families, and the community. Below you will find some of our reopening plans to programs and services as we gradually prepare for the weeks and months ahead.
Update 7-14-20: NYS OPWDD Commissioner Kastner announced new detailed guidance allowing your family member to visit your family home with strict guidelines upon the return from extended family visits. These new guidlines go into effect on July 15, 2020 Additionally, the opportunity to have community outings and interim guidelines for resuming limited Day program services was also announced by the Commissioner. These directives are intended to keep people safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic and apply to regions, like ours, that have entered phase four of the state’s reopening plan.
Under certain conditions, low risk community outings and visits to family member’s homes will be permitted. Conditions for the safe return of people to our residences after extended family visits are outlined as well in the OPWDD guidance. There are specific conditions under which these may occur to safeguard and maintain the health and well-being of people living in our residences and the staff that support them. It should be noted there are strict rules for transportation, health checks and the continuation of infection control procedures. If you have any questions feel free to contact your Residential Team Leader for further information.
We received additional guidance regarding options to resume some in-person day services. At this time, we are reviewing the guidelines that, like residential community outings, will have extensive restrictions regarding transportation, health checks and continuation of infection control procedures. Until we can ensure a safe and healthy environment for our individuals and staff, we will continue to provide remote day and wellness services.
Update 6-17-20: We are pleased to learn the Governor announced today that group home visitation will be allowed beginning Friday, June 19th. Please refer to the following Guideline for Family Visits that includes your need to call ahead, wear a mask and other requirements aimed at keeping our community healthy and safe. We are still awaiting further directions from OPWDD and will share those with you once we receive them. Thank you for your continued support, cooperation and patience during this challenging time.
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Update 6-15-20: The Children’s School for Early Development will remain remote/virtual for summer program, while continuing to lay the groundwork for reopening our program in the fall. The magnitude and scope of the changes required in every aspect of our operations render this task challenging to achieve even within the context of a fall reopening. In the absence of direct guidance from the New York State Education Department around the operation of our educational programming, we are constrained to make reopening decisions based upon our preparedness and ability to provide face to face instruction safely. At this time, we lack the staff, equipment, supplies, transportation and physical space to be able provide face to face services as soon as July 6th. more details →
Update May 6, 2020: Governor Cuomo’s announced his New York Forward plan on May 6th to begin reopening the state. This will happen on a regional basis starting after May 15 with four announced phases of priority for reopening. Since we are an essential provider, and we have been operating during this time, as a result, we are not listed in the regional opening plan.
There is no current change in how we are operating during this crisis. We are continuing our shelter in place mandates. However, we are awaiting guidance from The Department of Health and OPWDD as to when we can resume some of our services and what restrictions we will need to put in place when we open. We have started to develop a strategic plan mapping out the months ahead and a detailed plan for resuming some of our support services. Over the coming weeks I will be sharing more information about this with you.
The Governor’s Office and OPWDD have designated The Arc Westchester as an ESSENTIAL SERVICE PROVIDER. As such, we are exempt from the Governor Cuomo that mandate businesses to have employees stay home from work. We know you are aware that we provided vital services to the people with developmental disabilities and they depend on us during this critical time. The health and safety of ALL members of our community is a priority.
Update: March 25, 2020: In keeping with New York State Governor’s initiative to stop the spread of COVID-19, The Arc Westchester has been notified by OPWDD to suspend all community outings and home visits for individuals living in our residences effective March 25. 2020 at 5pm. As of this date, we will stop any visitors to our residences except when medically or clinically necessary. We are distributing signs in all our residences and staff are being briefed on the necessary procedures. We personally contacted families about this new order. We understand that this is an added disruption to our homes and families, but we must follow all rulings by the state to keep everyone safe.
We continually maintain routine communication with residents and families, either via email or another electronic platform, regarding the facility’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When one of our residences has a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, we communicate the information immediately to the residents and residents’ families, loved ones, and guardians. If family members have any questions, we suggest they contact us or NYS Department of Health at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Arc Westchester’s Day Services Program, including Choices Neighborhood, was temporarily suspended on March 18, 2020. We realize the impact that suspension of our day programs has on our families, staff and the people we support, however, it is critical we follow precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.
- Effective April 1, 2020, our agency headquarters at 265 Saw Mill River Road, Hawthorne, NY will be closed to all visitors. Only essential staff with security codes will have access to the building. Mail and package deliveries will be accepted during regular business hours. Please leave a message at our reception line at 914.949.9300 if you need access to the facility.
- All community outings and home visits for individuals living in our residences have been suspended. Our Residential Staff and Nursing teams are first responders to each individual’s health. They support their daily needs in order to keep all members of the residence safe and prevent the spread of the virus. People who live in any of our residences, will be provided with Day Services in the residence in which they reside.
- For those who reside in the community with their families, our Day Servicesstaff we will share access to available resources and day supports. Additionally, The Arc Westchester will continue to explore our ability to provide supports within the home for families that might prefer this option and for whom staff is available.
- Our Wellness Center Clinic is an essential service and remains open with safety measures in place to both screen staff and individuals for clinic access, and continues to practice extensive cleaning and sanitizing. The clinic is pleased to be able to provide telemedicine by either telephone or Zoom to offer continuity of care during this time. Appointments are necessary. We will be screening any visitors to the clinic with a series of recent health-related questions.
- All Children’s School for Early Development class locations are closed for an indefinite period. Our teachers, therapists and support staff are meeting the needs of our students and their families using digital technology like Zoom to continue parent conferences, school district meetings, staff updates and setting up a Google classroom.
- Essential Administrative functions will continue to make sure critical systems are running and access to crucial supplies are are available where needed.
To limit the number of people in our buildings at any time, remote work assignments have been put in place for staff that are able to do so. There are many other critical functions to running our agency, such as payroll, billing, mail, IT, communications, clinical, residential services, etc. that require our building to remain open. Employees enter the building with individual pass codes to limit to screen and limit visitors.