COVID-19 News

InVision Human Services COVID-19 Resource Center


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Friday, December 4, 2020

I’d like to thank each of you for your efforts over the last eight months to minimize the impact of the coronavirus on our employees and the people we support.  We are very fortunate and grateful that the direct impact to InVision lives has been minimal.  The company will continue to develop and revise our policies and guidelines as needed to follow the recommendations of the Office of Developmental Programs, PA Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control.  We will keep you apprised of any changes. 

As we move into the winter months, however, we are seeing significant increases in the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths throughout the state and country. Now, more than ever, in both our personal and professional lives, we must continue to do our part and accept personal responsibility to follow best practices of avoiding large gatherings, wearing masks in public, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and routinely sanitizing high-touch surfaces. As the December holidays approach, the CDC has also advised us all to limit celebrations to only those in our households.  Adhering to these guidelines can help ensure the wellbeing of each other and the people we support.  These simple measures will allow us to continue to provide high-quality supports to those we serve without significant changes to their routines, relationships, or household environments.   

Please remember we are members of the health care field and I urge you to acknowledge the pleas of our fellow essential workers, the doctors and nurses expressing mental and physical exhaustion as they tirelessly work in the overcrowded Intensive Care Units, and do all we can to reduce the spread of this terrible illness.  

Thank you again for your continued commitment to each other and the people we serve. If we all support one another and follow the guidelines, we can keep each other safe and healthy into the new year.

Kim Love
Chief Operating Officer 

 

Considering the unprecedented and uncertain times facing all of us, InVision Human Services has taken several measures to ensure the well-being of the people we support, our employees, and communities. Given the nature of our work, which at its very core is to protect the health and safety of those we serve, we are striving to do all we can to meet those obligations an minimize the risk for everyone involved, but especially our dedicated Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and the people they support.

Wear a mask

Mask-wearing is not only required in all public spaces by the commonwealth, but also it’s effective at reducing the spread of the coronavirus

Masks are designed to protect others, so they’re most effective when worn by the majority of the population. Utilize them when you’re around anyone who doesn’t live in your house or when you’re in public. Bear in mind that they’re not foolproof. If you suspect you have COVID-19, self-quarantine at home.

Continue social distancing

While warm weather and summer activities might tempt us into lowering our defenses, we must be mindful of how easily the virus spreads and to keep our distance from others, as appropriate. It's recommended that anyone in public spaces should maintain a distance of at least six feet between them and others.

Social distancing sits in a bit of a grey area in our line of work, so if you're a DSP, please continue to follow guidance from your supervisors or departmental leadership to evaluate social distancing with the person or people you support on a case-by-case basis.

Practice rigorous personal hygiene

It's well-documented the effectiveness of hand-washing at preventing infections, and this remains true for the coronavirus.

Wash your hands often. Lather up and scrub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds (try singing the ABCs or the "Happy Birthday" tune twice in your head) with soap and hot water. If soap and water are unavailable, hand sanitizer will do in a pinch.


 

InVision offices remain closed

Until further notice, it’s recommended that all office staff continue to work from home, as appropriate. Any staff entering either InVision office will be required to wear a face mask at all times (except in your personal work space or office), and meetings must be conducted via telephone or Microsoft Teams. Keep your distance when you can, and wash your hands frequently.

We are currently working on office reopening plans, and we will share the details once they’re finalized. Until then, please continue to follow our current guidance

Thank you to all of our staff for their commitment to InVision’s mission, vision, and the people we support during these challenging times.



-Kim Love, Chief Operating Officer 

 

Any InVision employee who feels sick, especially those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath) are asked to contact your immediate supervisor as soon as you begin to feel ill. Please do not wait until the beginning of your shift and under no circumstances are you to report to work.

 

Below are the steps we have taken and those that will soon be implemented to help protect the people we support, our staff, and the community at large.

 

Office closure

Our offices are officially closed.  The only people present in the office are essential employees who are continuing critical business functions.  We are asking all staff and individuals supported to please refrain from coming to the office unless authorized to do so by a manager.  

  • If any DSPs are authorized to come to the office to pick up supplies, InVision staff will have everything prepared in advance and placed in a box/bag in the lobby for easy retrieval. 
  • Large prepaid, self-addressed envelopes will be mailed to each residential location to use as needed to mail items to the office. Should anyone need to come to the office to drop something off, there are drop boxes located outside of each location.  There is an office employee assigned to check the box daily and will ensure the contents are routed (either electronically or hard copy) to the appropriate people.   

Grocery shopping

We will soon implement a new process to drastically reduce the need for our DSPs and people we support to go to the grocery store. Based upon availability, either home delivery or curbside pickup will be implemented for the purchasing of routine groceries and household supplies. We have also purchased certain non-perishable items that can be distributed to homes if they become depleted.

 

Essential outings

As stated above, are committed to flattening the curve and practicing social distancing.  As such, we are asking DSPs and the people we support to adopt a “shelter-in-place” mindset. We are asking that only essential outings occur.  Essential outings are defined as picking up groceries and going to critical medical appointments. We are aware that this will take a toll on the people we support and those who support them and therefore,  as of this writing, we still encourage walks in the community (while avoiding interaction with others), car rides, and the occasional ride to pick up a take-out meal.  

 

DSPs that do travel in the community, including to and from work, should always have their essential employee letter and InVision ID on them.

 

Visitors to our residences

In addition to implementing social distancing, we are asking that DSPs and the people we support to minimize the number of visitors to their homes. We realize that this is a tremendous sacrifice for them, as well as you, but we believe that it is necessary to avoid the risk of exposure to the virus. If a visit to your family member is necessary, please contact the home prior to your arrival and take all of the recommended steps as outlined by the CDC such as washing your hands, using hand sanitizer, avoiding touching your face, and coughing or sneezing into your elbow. If you are sick, please stay home.

 

InVision Behavioral Health

IBH responds to the needs of the people we support regarding psychotherapy, assessment, consultation as well as strategies for medication management. Staffed with licensed nursing professionals, social workers, and psychologists, IBH provides a service system that meets the unique needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Please contact IBH if you are concerned about psychiatric hospitalization, especially under the current situation, believe that the person you support is in need of a session, or you would like consultation as to strategies/interventions you want to implement. 

You can email Dr. Michael Greisler at mgreisler@invisionhs.org or Darnell Davis at ddavis@invisionhs.org. You can also contact IBH by telephone at 724-933-2961. Someone from IBH will contact you as soon as possible.

If you feel that you are in an emergency situation, please contact your local crisis center or 911.

IBH is also available to InVision staff dealing with stress or anxiety, especially as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

COVID-19 Resources

 

 

 

Activities for People with Intellectual Disabilities

We strongly recommend that our DSPs and the people we support adopt social distancing behaviors. This includes limiting travel, reducing visitors, and if you must leave for any reason, maintain a minimum distance of six feet from others, and avoid groups of more than 10 people.

Keeping individuals engaged, while also limiting access to other people, can be challenging. Below are a variety of options and suggestions for keeping yourself and the people you support active.

Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities being created online. From school-based activities, to online museums, zoos and more, there are plenty of options for entertainment and education.
 

Arts & Crafts

The Scavenger Hunt Story In-home activity to identify items around the home, draw them, and write a story about them

The Metropolitan Opera will be streaming an opera each night which will then be available on their site for 20 hours until the next one

6 recipes for homemade playdough including some that are edible

Although intended for children, this is a great resource because you can select ideas based on supplies already in your home or topics of interest

Daily videos with artist Mo Willems including interactive doodling/drawing activities

 

Reading

Links to several online resources with free books.

Dozens of great books read aloud by celebrities, links to YouTube for viewing.

Also, check out the website of your local library. Most libraries offer access to free audio books, you can also sign up for a library card online in most cases if needed.

 

Education

Scholastic Learn at Home is an online resource with free educational programming by grade level. Although intended for children, some topics may be of interest to the person you support.

Virtual Field Trips offers trips to and tours of various places.

Information and links for 450 free online courses from Ivy League Schools.

Smithsonian's History Explorer provides interactive and media resources on a wide range of historical topics.

Google Arts & Culture has an endless list of topics from art, to sports with images and detailed information. 

Virtual tour to explore different sections of the Great Wall of China. 

Farm Food 360 provides a collection of virtual tours of various farming topics such as milk and cheese making, dairy cows and more.

Access Mars lets you see the real surface of the planet Mars as recorded by NASA’s Curiosity rover.

 

Museums 

Museums from around the world offer free virtual tours and online exhibits.

The Frick Pittsburgh

National Cowboy Museum

The British Museum

The Guggenheim

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Louvre

US Space and Rocket Museum in Huntsville, Alabama

 

Zoos/Aquariums

Many zoos and aquariums offer webcams for live stream educational videos and resources. 

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium 

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Philadelphia Zoo

Ripley’s Aquariums

Georgia Aquarium

Zoo Atlanta Panda Cam

 

Tips to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

InVision continues to recommend following the CDC guidelines. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

 

  • Clean your hands often
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after you have been in a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
    • If soap is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

 

  • Avoid close contact
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.
    • Limit the number of visitors you have to your home.

 

  • Cover coughs and sneezes
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
    • Throw used tissues in the trash immediately.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 

 

  • Wear a facemask if you are sick
    • If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. People who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room.
    • If you are not sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick. Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be reserved for caregivers.

 

  • Clean and disinfect
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touch surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, remote controls, toilets, faucets, and sinks. 

 

Visit the CDC’s COVID-19 Prevention & Treatment page for more information.

 


 



Unsung Heroes

By Ruth Siegfried

If we follow the advice from the Center for Disease Control, as well as Governor Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, we will be able lessen the potential effects of COVID-19.

While their directives and recommendations may seem challenging – social distancing, working remotely, limiting travel, frequent hand washing, and avoiding crowds over 10 people –  we must all work together to limit the spread of the virus while we await the development of a safe and well-tested vaccine.

From a recent historical perspective, this moment calls for the same national unity that took place after the 9/11 attacks when we felt tremendous anxiety about what our futures held. However, our national mood was lifted by the courage, dedication, and sacrifice of our nation’s first responders, who humbly committed themselves to protect and serve. At that moment we celebrated and gained hope from firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians and others.

We declared them as heroes among us.

Today, there are similar professionals rising to the current challenge. On the front lines of this pandemic are health care workers, nurses, doctors, health aides, and Direct Support Professionals who cannot work from home and put themselves at risk so those who are in need can receive care.

We have built a community system that depends upon a large workforce of professionals to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities and autism continue to have much-needed caregivers, some requiring 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week supports.

We have populations who are at higher risk because of age or underlying health conditions dependent upon the services of direct care and support workers for feeding, bathing, and social supports.  

As the Founder and President/CEO of an agency that supports hundreds of people with intellectual disabilities and autism living across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I continue to be in awe of the dedication of our staff who remain committed through this crisis. Their professionalism and the care they exhibit in executing their jobs and the added steps they take to prevent possible transmission is amazing. Despite the irony of these workers having been underpaid by the state for decades, they keep reminding us of their respect for and devotion to the people we support. 

When we make it through this crisis, and we will with the support of these individuals, may we find it in our hearts to remember their contributions to the safety of loved ones and treat them with the respect and dignity they so richly deserve. 

These are the heroes of 2020 who live among us.