18 March 2020
My name is Troy W. Rasmussen and I’ve recently accepted the Executive Director’s position at Developmental Connections. One of my priorities for this next year, is to make a concerted effort to meet each of you in person. With the concerns about COVID-19 coronavirus, those plans may be delayed. However, I do want to take a few minutes of your time to pass on information from the Missouri Department of Mental Health and Department of Health and Senior Services. I’ve also included steps that Developmental Connections is taking to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of those we serve.
You may be aware that the Centers for Disease Control issued guidance on March 16th recommending avoiding social gatherings of 10 or more people to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
As of March 16th, the Division of Developmental Disabilities is not making any decisions to close programs that operate in large congregate settings such as day programs. Nor is the Division making recommendations to restrict individuals’ involvement in daily activities. For the time being, these decisions will be left to providers, individuals, and family members to decide what is in their best interest. This is subject to change as the situation evolves and guidance comes down from federal and state authorities. The Division did just release guidelines on March 18th for group settings, which we will be reviewing and implementing. Developmental Connections is implementing the following guidance from the Division regarding ways to keep the people you serve and our staff safe:
- Reviewing emergency preparedness plans with all staff. The primary purpose is to manage spread of the virus.
- Talk with staff about emergency planning with their family.
- Attempting to maintain at least a 21-day supply of medications on hand. MO Healthnet has provided guidance to pharmacy providers that loosens prescription refill requirements.
- Monitoring for compliance with basic infection control practices.
- Monitoring for compliance with standard hand hygiene practices, using alcohol-based (60% +) hand rub/hand sanitizer (ABHR/ABHS) as the preferred method of hand hygiene in most situations. If hands are visibly soiled, wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Facilities/homes are working to ensure that hand hygiene supplies are readily available.
- If a possible COVID-19 exposure is suspected, following guidance provided by the CDC.
Taney County has not issued any ordinances or rules as of March 17th, but if that does happen we will comply with any applicable requirements.
In addition to legal requirements or general guidelines, Developmental Connections has implemented the following:
- All vehicles are sanitized at least once per day
- Individuals receiving day services wash their hands at least five times per day upon arrival, before/after each meal, and before leaving the area
- Day services common areas are sanitized twice daily
- Multiple sanitation stations are set up in day service areas
- The six-foot social distance recommendation is followed
- Individuals are informed of the reason and importance of limiting physical contact such as shaking hands
- Groups of ten or more are limited and meet in separate areas of day services
- Staff have explained to persons served the reason for these steps
- Entry to the administrative building is limited to the primary location with signs asking visitors to apply provided hand sanitizer
- Residential/other common areas are taking similar steps as they apply to the services provided
- We are stressing the importance of remaining calm yet prepared
- We are not currently restricting visitors to the property
I encourage you to understand that due to the nature of services we provide, and unless otherwise designated by authorities, we cannot make visitor restrictions, residentially, without infringing on individual rights. Per Division of Developmental Disabilities guidance, we will be implementing a visitor screening form and will not admit anyone who has symptoms. If your ward receives supports through our day services, you will be notified should it become necessary to temporarily close those services.
For the most current information on the status of the virus, federal and state announcements, and the most up to date resources, the following are the best sources for information.
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Center for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: www.health.mo.gov/coronavirus
Missouri Coronavirus Information Hotline: 877-435-8411. The hotline will be operated by medical professionals and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Missouri Department of Mental Health: https://dmh.mo.gov/disaster-services/covid-19-information
Taney County Department of Health: https://www.taneycohealth.org/resources/
I hope this addresses any concerns you may have about actions taken by the state and Developmental Connections to do our part to keep people safe and healthy.
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at 417.335.4135.
Troy W. Rasmussen