The Chairman of the COVID task force, Al Frugoli, sent the message below to Incompass staff last week on January 28, 2021.
Dear Care Champions:
The numbers are in! We were able to vaccinate 177 staff and individuals this week during our vaccination clinics with Long Term Pharmacy Solutions (LTPS)! Woohoo!!! We are so grateful that so many of you were able to receive the first dose of the vaccine this week, and we will be in touch with details for the February booster shot clinics in the coming weeks.
In this week’s task force update, we’re sharing a recap of our first Incompass vaccine clinics, important resources on the statewide vaccination process, and updates on our own COVID protocols.
The Vaccine Clinic:
The LTPS team has conducted a number of these clinics, and remarked on how impressed they were with our team! The clinical tandem of Alicia Mordach and Chris Snell specifically want to recognize a few members of the team who went above and beyond to ensure we had a smooth process:
The consensus among Care Champions was some sore arms the next day for sure, but no major side-effects from the shot. Our group home residents were fortunate that our highly-skilled residential nursing team was in the observation room keeping an eye on them after their shot and monitoring them this week:
For those who couldn’t attend and wish to be vaccinated, all individual-facing Incompass staff are now eligible to receive the vaccine under the latest Phase 1 guidelines. While we’re actively working with LTPS to procure more doses for another clinic, at this time we don’t know when – or if – we’ll be able to hold another one. The state has opened numerous vaccine clinics where eligible members of the population can sign up to be vaccinated. While not every clinic requires it, if you need proof of employment, you can reach out to human resources.
You can view a list of vaccine clinic locations here, and download the self-attestation form for eligibility here. I recommend you pay close attention to the criteria at each individual site, as some are restricted to residents of a town/city or are only serving senior citizens. Nearly all of them require an appointment to be made in advance through the listed website as well; they aren’t accepting walk-ins. The Governor announced this week that he anticipates having 165 clinics statewide by the end of next month, so check back regularly as more sites in our area hopefully come online.
COVID Safety Protocols, Testing, and Updates:
Remember, while this is an important step forward, everyone who has received the vaccine must continue to follow all of the COVID protocols at Incompass. The vaccine does not prevent the spread of coronavirus, so wearing a mask, socially distancing, reporting symptoms, etc. is critical to protect not only yourself but those around you. (And remember that KN95 masks must be worn at all times in program areas.) We’ll continue to do this #ForEachOther, as the health and safety of all of you and the people you support remains our top priority.
On that note, day programs in our Parker Street facility were suspended yesterday for 14 days after we got word of a positive staff test on Monday. The staff member is asymptomatic but had reported interactions with each of our three Parker cohorts in the days prior to the positive test. We are following our own protocols around exposure – meaning that each of the cohorts and respective DSPs are undergoing testing and need to isolate until February 8 to prevent an outbreak. The day program facilities will also undergo a deep cleaning during this period. We are working on engaging with our participants virtually over the next two weeks to help with the transition, and look forward to welcoming them back!
These are difficult decisions, but taking the necessary precautions is our best defense against an outbreak. And your continued cooperation and vigilance is absolutely a key reason for our success.
That’s all for this week! Keep getting tested. Keep being vigilant. Keep self-reporting. And keep being hopeful. While Chelmsford and Lawrence remain in the “high-risk” designation, the statewide positivity rate dropped below 5.0% last week for the first time since November, and we’re hopeful that’s a sign of things to come. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that we will gather again someday and it will be something to celebrate!
LifeLinks CLASS partnered with Fallon Health last Friday, August 21 to host a pop-up COVID-19 testing site at our main office in Chelmsford. This was one of the largest testings that Fallon has completed to date, with nearly 400 participants.
The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has various area offices located across Massachusetts. Individuals who receive services under DDS were encouraged to register for the testing, as well as the staff who work for human services agencies in this region. LifeLinks CLASS Care Champions took the lead on getting tested #ForEachother in order to ensure the continued safety of everyone we support.
A big thank you to our Care Champions, Stacie and Melanie, for coordinating this pop-up!
No worries if you missed this opportunity — there will be an additional seven pop-up testing sites in the near future! The details on dates and locations will be available at a later date.
On August 10 we welcomed back a small cohort of day hab participants to Lawrence and Chelmsford. As we begin to lift the suspension on our facility‐based programs, programs we return to will look vastly different from the programs we left. This is by design, as the LifeLinks CLASS COVID‐19 task force has created comprehensive plans to facilitate the safe and secure operation of our Omni Way and Parker Street locations. LifeLinks CLASS’s top priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our program participants, caregivers, and staff.
Please visit the Coronavirus Advisory page for the most recent updates as they relate to Coronavirus and the LifeLinks CLASS community.
For the first time in nearly 150 days, our day programs will be open next week when we welcome a small cohort of day hab participants to Lawrence and Chelmsford!
The last five months have been an incredible period for all of us at LifeLinks CLASS.
We’ve listened to our Care Champions.
We’ve connected with our families and caregivers.
We’ve consulted with fellow provider agencies.
We’ve followed guidance from federal and state agencies.
We’ve completed training to build our skills in infection prevention and containment
All of this insight, collaboration, and action has driven our agency’s pandemic response plan that has been rooted in proactive steps aimed at promoting the health and safety of our community. Remember, we suspended day programs, required face coverings, and offered hand-washing training prior to the release of state requirements.
So, at the risk of sounding self-serving, I don’t mind saying that I think we’re doing a heck of a job! ???
But hey, don’t just take my word for it! Our most recent round of surveillance testing conducted at nearly every group home just this week recorded zero positive tests! In fact, we haven’t recorded a single positive COVID-19 test in six weeks! ? ?
And remember – WE NEVER CLOSED! Our 16 group homes are staffed 24/7 and are home to nearly 100 individuals. Our nurses and clinical teams are providing essential medical care to individuals where they are. Our Family Support Center is actively serving more than 300 families throughout the region. Our family support and day program specialists have run more than 1,000 virtual programs since day programs were suspended.
The bottom line is that our organization is rooted in doing things for each other; this isn’t novel for us. It’s what makes us all Care Champions! While it’s easy to focus on tangible policies and procedures, I am especially proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past few months…
We’ve learned from each other.
We’ve supported each other.
We’ve stayed home and avoided crowds for each other.
We’ve donned masks for each other.
We’ve been there for each other.
This includes all of you – staff, families, caregivers, individuals, public officials, Directors, and supporters. So on Monday, remember we aren’t just resuming day hab; we’re taking another step forward as a LifeLinks CLASS team…and we’re doing it #ForEachOther.