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DakotAbilities COVID-19 response

March 13, 2020

All DakotAbilities - Staff, families and people we support,

DakotAbilities is committed to protecting the health of individuals we support and our staff who support them. In light of the recent COVID-19 spread we are implementing the following procedures throughout our facilities per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance.

And, even though our last communication was only a couple days ago, we will be implementing the following changes in our activities effective Monday, March 16th:

  • Day Services at Longfellow – all Day Services activities will be temporarily suspended while the incidences of the COVID-19 virus may continue to show growth and community impact. Our plan is to continue to serve everyone in their residential settings (group homes & apartments). Serving people at home should reduce the potential exposure to the virus.
    • Essential medical appointments, etc. may be kept but many routine visits like an annual physical or a dental check-up will be rescheduled to a later time.
    • Art, musical activities or theater presentations will also be rescheduled for a later time.
    • Our Meaningful Day program to assist people to participate all across the Sioux Falls community will assist with cares within our Residential locations. We intend to be place a temporary stop to nearly any venture outside the Residential locations in order to avoid potential exposure to someone who may have been exposed to the virus. For example, we’ll not be going swimming, to the zoo, to the movies, to the Butterfly House, or not even to Church where exposure potential is elevated.
    • Similarly, those people who work at the community supported site at Citibank will not be going there at this time. We will maintain that extraordinary relationship with Citi and normal activities will resume at such time that it is safe to do so.
  • Visitors – to reduce potential exposure, we will implement a NO VISITATION POLICY – only staff providing services will be allowed in the Residential locations. We encourage families, parents & guardians and others to maintain your contact via telephone, Facetime, or Skype meetings online.
  • Residential Services – we have our staff scheduled to care for all the people we support as they would commonly do with the only significant difference being that the services will be in a group home or apartment setting.
    • Beginning with this communication, if a family chooses to have their loved one go home for an evening or the weekend, we may ask you to keep them at home until we resume normal operations.
  • Day-Only Services - for families who receive Day-Only services, should bring their loved ones to our Blaine group home location. The address is 1100 S. Blaine Avenue – this is a block west of the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and 18th Street on the east side of Sioux Falls. You may contact your specific Service Coordinator (Becky, Lisa or Christy) if you should have any questions.
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The following information points were listed as important in our first communication – we’re including them once again as a reminder of their importance in preventing exposure to the virus.

Handwashing:

Staff will wash their hands often with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, especially after coming into contact with others, surfaces frequently touched, public places, blowing their noses, coughing or sneezing. When they are unable to wash their hands, hand sanitizer may be used. Staff will assist people we support in washing their hands throughout the day and using hand sanitizer as needed. Staff should avoid touching their faces with unclean hands and guide the people we support to do the same.

Our customary cleansing solutions are effective to sanitize commonly touched surfaces. We do need to clean door handles, faucets & parts of the kitchen sink, knobs & oven handles on the stove, drawer handles, med carts, chairs, couches, wheelchairs including trays & push handles, dining room chairs & tables, toilet handles & seats, etc.

Illness:

We ask that staff contact their supervisor if you have a fever of 100.4 or higher, a cough, or shortness of breath and other symptoms develop.

Cover your mouth and nose with tissue if you cough/sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. If you are sick wear a face mask when around others. If people we support are sick and willing, guide them to wear a face mask while sick and in public/common spaces. Staff should wear a face mask if caring for someone who is sick. Clean and disinfect all commonly touched surfaces several times a day.

If you or someone you love is diagnosed with Covid-19 notify your supervisor. Your supervisor will follow up with the Director of Nursing for further guidance.

Social Distancing:

               All staff and the people we support should avoid close contact with people who are sick. Do your best to put 6 ft between yourself and others.

Where possible, try to avoid large group activities like concerts, shows, movies, sporting events, theater, church, busy times at the grocery store, or even the Food Court at the Mall, if possible. Current information says that people are the most contagious with Covid-19 when their symptoms are at their worst, so do what you can to avoid people who are showing signs of illness and protect yourself if caring for someone who is sick with frequent hand washing, a face mask, and continue to disinfect commonly touched surfaces often.

Vaccine:

There is no vaccine for Covid-19 and it may take a year before there is one available. South Dakota is able to test people for the virus if showing symptoms.

Any staff or individuals who have not received a flu vaccine are strongly encouraged to do so at this time.

Travel:

Due to the virus spreading easily when people are traveling, please notify your supervisor of any travel out of the state, via airline or to other countries.

Meetings:

If possible, meetings or trainings should be done using electronics, versus gatherings of people. We will be looking into ways to provide our trainings using electronic means for the next few months. Further updates to come on this.

Thank you for all you do for DakotAbilities. Each of us must take responsibility to implement the strategies listed above to insure the health and safety of everyone at DakotAbilities.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Bohm

Executive Director

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