Updated: July 16th, 2020
Dear Parents, Families & Friends,
I hope everyone is safe and healthy along with your respective families, both at work and at home.
I wanted to take a few minutes to touch on some things that have developed in recent weeks. There is a lot of information out there, and I wanted to take this opportunity to clear up any misconceptions or confusion about Dawn of Hope and future plans of reopening.
First, you can count on this… Dawn of Hope will not re-open Day Program supports at the Stratton building until we are sure it’s safe. Our Health and Safety committee meets 1-2 times a week to discuss CDC changes, policy updates, leave requests, developing trends and of course how our own protocols are working in terms of being socially distanced and using protective health equipment. We want you to feel confident in your trust in us to be open when the time is right and when we feel like we can provide safe supports for your loved ones.
Second, I heard a rumor the other day from a source outside of our organization that Dawn of Hope will not open until March 2021. Please know that Dawn of Hope has not set a date or even had any discussions regarding re-opening the day program up to this point. Our goal remains to take steps towards re-opening, (again, when we feel like it’s safe and appropriate), but the reality is that we’re just not close to being ready to do that yet.
During a call with the department yesterday DIDD informed us that in the three-month period between March and June there were 72 positive cases of COVID-19 among people supported statewide. In the three weeks since then there have been 35 additional positive cases – nearly 50% of the previous three months total infections in only three weeks. Likewise, the state is seeing an even more pronounced rate in the number of support staff infections. Thankfully, none of those infections have occurred with people supported by or employed with Dawn of Hope, however it is critical that we continue to take all precautions necessary so that our success in keeping people safe continues.
Once we eventually reach a point when we feel like it is safe to re-open the day program again, please rest assured that we will give you ample notice so that you can make arrangements to get your loved ones back on schedule and back to a normal Dawn of Hope Day routine. Until then, if you don’t hear it from me directly, then it likely isn’t accurate.
Third, please protect yourselves for the sake of the people you have in your life. We have heard too many sad stories related to COVID-19 deaths. We can’t bear to think of one of our own contracting the virus. Wear your masks. Wear your gloves if you have them, and please practice social distancing. Know that if your loved one is receiving Residential supports, the practices we have put into place are there to protect the ones we support – the ones you want us to protect. Our safety precautions are a positive thing and may mean the difference between life and death, and we believe they demonstrate our full commitment in keeping your loved ones safe.
Finally, for those of you that have helped us socially distance, by phone calls, video chatting, etc., THANK YOU!
I know it’s not easy being apart from your loved ones. But please understand, our precautions are in place to keep everyone healthy and safe. Let’s work together in making outside porch or yard visits fun and memorable while still keeping them safe and socially distanced.
Patience, Love, Understanding, Courage, Knowledge, Wisdom and of course Hope, will get us all through the days ahead.
Please accept my deepest gratitude and appreciation for trusting Dawn of Hope with those you love the most.
Chief Executive Officer
Dawn of Hope, Inc.
UPDATE: June 4th, 2020
To Person’s Supported, Family Members, and Conservators,
As the nation, state, and local communities continue to phase in reopening plans, it is time for Dawn of Hope to begin doing the same, albeit at a somewhat slower pace. The people we support are a vulnerable population, and we must make sure that the decisions we are making are the right ones for the continued good health of everyone.
Here are some things Dawn of Hope continues to do in taking precautions against COVID-19 infection, and some changes that we hope to phase in to as we begin our reopening process:
As we continue to follow local, state, and federal guidelines including CDC recommendations, we are asking our employees to continue the following –
1. ALL Employees must continue to Wear a Mask when working within 6 ft of a person-supported or co-worker. While we cannot require you to wear a mask while you are not working, we encourage you to wear one when you are in public places (grocery store, The Mall, doctor’s office, etc.) both locally and out of town – again for the continued safety of the people we support and yourselves.
2. Continue to Practice Safe Social-Distancing while at work and in the community.
3. Be aware of crowded places and avoid them if at all possible.
4. Avoid potential “hotspots” where the risk of being exposed is higher – airports, buses, trains, beaches, any place where larger numbers of people gather and the virus may be lurking.
5. Continue to follow the agency’s daily temperature taking protocols as well as utilizing the Staff Screening Tool.
6. Report any symptoms or illness to your supervisor immediately.
7. If you are around friends, family, or traveling companions, please ask them if they have experienced any symptoms of or have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 (if they have been around someone who has tested positive, traveled on a plane or a bus, or have recently been to a “hotspot” for the virus). Please ask them not to be offended. It is a simple precaution we must take to protect the people we support from exposure.
Dawn of Hope is allowing DIDD to utilize our rear parking lot at the Main Center in order to test persons supported that wish to be tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday June 10th. Notice’s and consent forms were sent to families, conservators, and persons supported last week.
Once the testing is complete for those that provide consent to be tested, Dawn of Hope plans to begin slowly and carefully re-integrating into the community while following specific guidelines.
Persons Supported will be able to participate in Community Outings if they choose to do so.
If the Person Supported has a conservator, then permission for outings will be secured from the conservator before the outings occur. When preparing for Community Outings, Dawn of Hope staff will educate the Persons Supported about social distancing, avoiding crowds, wearing a mask, etc.
Staff will offer choices of outings to areas that have a low crowd density and open areas such as parks, walking tracks, picnic areas, shopping centers with low crowds, and open spaces, etc.
After the people supported have been educated, offered choices, and made their decision; staff will consult with their Team Leader/Supervisor to ensure that the outing is appropriate. This conversation will occur prior to leaving the home.
As we begin phasing in community re-integration:
1. Community Outings will initially occur only on Wednesdays.
2. Community Outings will initially occur between the hours of 10 am – 2 pm, and last for no more than 2 ½ hours.
3. Community Outings will initially occur only in safe places – low crowds and at safe distances.
4. We will ask/encourage Persons Supported to wear masks during the Community Outings – if they can tolerate and choose to do so. Staff will continue to be required to wear masks at all times while on Outings with Persons Supported.
As we follow local and state testing data results, our hope is to incrementally and safely increase Community Outings until there are once again no health-related barriers, and Outing days, times, and locations are again fully at the personal choice and pleasure of the people we are supporting.
Dawn of Hope will continue to utilize Telehealth options when possible and/or available.
If not available, or if the Healthcare Provider feels that the Person Supported needs to be evaluated in person, the clinic will ascertain the protocol for the Healthcare Provider’s office regarding entry to their facility. Staff must wear a mask and we will encourage people supported to wear a mask as well. Social Distancing is encouraged as much as possible.
Therapy Services in the home will be allowed when the service is deemed necessary by medical professionals to avoid potential adverse effects to the person being supported (i.e. swallowing tests conducted by a Speech Language Pathologist for a person who needs modified food textures to prevent choking.) The following guidelines for therapy services in the home will be as follows:
1. The Therapist must complete the Staff Screening Tool and have their temperature taken by Dawn of Hope staff.
2. The therapy visit will take place on the front porch or the home or in an isolated area away from other house residents.
3. The therapist MUST wear a mask for the entire therapy visit – preferably an N95 mask.
4. Dawn of Hope staff must also wear a mask per agency protocols.
5. The person supported will also be encouraged to wear a mask for the entirety of the therapy visit if they are agreeable and can tolerate.
Family & Friends Visitation
Another protocol we plan to begin easing once testing is completed on June 10th is Visitation by family and friends. The people we support miss you, and Dawn of Hope wants to begin facilitating visits so both you and your family member can catch up.
Families and Friends can resume visits to the home under the following guidelines:
1. The visits must be scheduled at least one day in advance so preparations can be made.
2. The visits must occur outside. The front porch of most homes will be fine in most cases.
3. The Person Supported will be encouraged to wear a mask – if they can tolerate and choose to do so.
4. The visitors are encouraged to wear a mask if they have one – in the interest of safety for all involved.
5. When arriving at the home, Visitors must compete a brief set of questions and have their temperature checked.
6. We understand that it may be difficult for the Persons Supported and their families to maintain social distancing, but we need to encourage it.
7. Initially, there will be no visits to family’s homes, overnight or otherwise, or with family in the community. These opportunities will come later, when data suggests, and local, state, and federal guidance declare that it is safe to do so.
Please understand – Dawn of Hope’s sole interest is in protecting the health of the people you have entrusted us to support and care for, as well as the health and safety of our staff who are providing supports.
As we progress in the phased reopening process we may find it necessary to modify our protocols if public health conditions worsen. Likewise if the public health improves then we will find ways to further ease restrictions.
I know you are wondering, when will things get back to normal?
At the present time, we still have no idea. As soon as we do we will let you know through various means of communication. Until then, be safe, take care of yourselves, and know that Dawn of Hope is still here to protect and support you and your loved ones.
April 17th, 2020
Dear Dawn of Hope Family Members,
I wanted to take a moment to say that I hope everyone is staying safe and enjoying good health wherever you may be during this unprecedented time. It is still a very dangerous time in our country and state, and I believe the next two weeks may be the most critical time we will face during this crisis.
As the COVID-19 wave has grown and community spread peaks, talk about “reopening” the state for business in May has the potential to make people relax and be less careful in their precautions. While optimism is a much needed thing to have at the moment, we cannot assume that the worst is over yet.
That is the position that Dawn of Hope is taking, and we are constantly reminding our incredible DSP’s and LPN’s providing direct care on the front-lines that taking all precautions right now is more important than ever. Our number one priority remains keeping the people we support and the employees supporting them safe and healthy, and we will not relax until this public health crisis has passed.
Our front-line employee’s efforts in keeping the people we support safe and healthy have been aided by many amazing supporters and volunteers who have made and donated masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) over the past few weeks, and they continue to do so. If you want to know who some of them are check out our Facebook page and give them a shout out or a thank you. Their thoughtful donations and gifts have been a true blessing for Dawn of Hope.
In closing I want to say a few words about Dawn of Hope’s employees. At every level of the organization they continue to do their jobs with a spirit and attitude that is a joy to behold. From our administrative and support staff who keep the wheels turning and the bills paid, to our management staff – many of whom are working in the homes side by side with our DSP’s & LPN’s providing direct care – everyone continues to work as a true team as we journey together through this unforeseen moment in time.
But no group or person is more important to Dawn of Hope than our DSP’s and LPN’s who show up every day, ready to do whatever is necessary to care for and support those most important to us. What they do isn’t easy. Some days it isn’t fun. But they keep coming back day after day anyway, because their passion for the work they do and the love they have for the people we support is unlike anything I have ever seen.
If you know a DSP or LPN that works for Dawn of Hope, take a moment to tell them Thank You. One day when it’s safe again, give them a hug. They are true heroes doing important work not many others would do, and they deserve every amount of love and appreciation we can give them.
Until next time, take care of yourselves, stay safe, and know that Dawn of Hope will do everything in our power to continue to take care of the people you love the most.
Chief Executive Officer
Dawn of Hope, Inc.
Effective March 24th, 2020 the Day Program at Dawn of Hope’s Main Center will be closed until further notice. This was not a decision that was made lightly, however with the increase of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our local area we feel that it is too significant a risk from this point forward despite our best precautions, to keep the day program open.
All Day Program staff are being reassigned to help in our Residential Homes and Job Coaches will pick up any people we support that are still working in integrated employment and transport them from their homes to and from their jobs. Best Practices that conform to all federal, state, and CDC recommended precautions will be ongoing at all times.
Staff have been encouraged to practice caution and adhere to accepted CDC and government protocols and not travel outside of the local area when not at work, and have been advised to report to Agency Management if they exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19, have associated with anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or answer YES to any of the following questions:
1. Have you recently traveled outside of the local area? If so where?
2. Have you passed through any airports or ports of call in the last 14 days?
3. Have you been anywhere in the U.S. with confirmed cases of COVID-19?
4. Have you had any known exposure to anyone with COVID-19?
5. Have you had any fever or flu-like symptoms over the past 7 days?
We will continue to monitor the situation and keep families and staff posted on any new developments.
March 13, 2020
Dear Parents, Family Members, and Conservators,
I wanted to take a moment to let you know that in addition to our daily mission of providing person-centered supports while helping people pursue the life they desire, we also are continually monitoring public health issues that can impact the people we support.
It is imperative to us that we are prepared to take any necessary and essential steps in order to mitigate risks associated with any public health issue. This includes the recent Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. Nothing at Dawn of Hope is more important than the safety, health, and well-being of the people we support.
We are closely watching how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak evolves and have taken important steps to elevate our focus beyond our customary high standards for sanitation, cleaning, and employee/persons supported hygiene in response to COVID-19.
We are working with and taking guidance from state and local health authorities as well as the CDC, to make certain that we are doing everything possible to keep the people we support and our employee’s safe.
- Over a week ago we distributed to all Dawn of Hope employees the CDC’s recommendations for prevention that includes:
- Good hand- washing techniques,
- The use of hand sanitizer,
- Covering coughs and sneezes.
- Posters with Good Prevention Tips were sent to each of our Supported Living homes to serve as reminders to staff, these posters were also displayed in our Main Center as well.
- All light switches, doorknobs, and handrails are sanitized daily, as are all surfaces in our homes and vehicles. We have asked our classroom, clinic, and residential staff to perform extra cleaning each day with disinfectant wipes and spray per CDC guidelines.
- We have implemented changes to our daily routines at our Main Center and in the Community while the COVID-19 issue continues. Out of an abundance of caution, we are having the people eat lunch in their classrooms instead of the cafeteria, and have limited some community outings per state and local health authorities’ recommendations.
- We are in constant communication with TennCare and DIDD to ensure we are getting the support and resources we need to protect the people we support.
- We are also working very hard to negotiate changes to current DIDD rules that require people to be in the community daily. As noted above, we have already taken steps to limit community outings regardless of DIDD and TennCare requirements. It is simply not safe for the vulnerable population we support to spend so much time in the community during this public health crisis.
- Update – DIDD and TennCare issued additional guidance late Friday afternoon (March 13, 2020) relaxing provider requirements for Community Participation. This guidance will temporarily allow the people Dawn of Hope supports to forego community-based activities while still maintaining funding. In other words, Dawn of Hope will still be allowed to support people in their homes and/or in our day facility during this crisis. Dawn of Hope will continue to help the people we support and their families or conservators, as applicable, by sharing information about the potential risk of exposure so they can make informed decisions about whether they should participate in community activities during public health crisis.
Above all, we want you to know that we will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation on a daily basis, and will remain vigilant and committed to heeding the guidance from public health officials and take every precaution necessary to keep the people we support safe.
Chief Executive Office
Dawn of Hope, Inc.