COVID-19 Prevention & Response

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This topic contains 22 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Janice Miller 2 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #4209
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    Lisa Nitsch
    Keymaster
    • Posts: 5

    A space to share ideas and resources to best prepare residential and other direct services to prevent or contain a COVID-19 outbreak.

  • #4210
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    Janice Miller
    Participant
    • Posts: 40

    Hello all,

    Here are some sites that can provide useful information:

  • #4211
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    Janice Miller
    Participant
    • Posts: 40

    Would love your thoughts and feedback on these proposed screening questions:

    AFTER individuals are accepted to Shelter, screeners will ask the following questions:

    • Before you come into Shelter, please know that due to the nature of community living, it is possible that you will be exposed to an infectious disease such as the common cold, influenza, pneumonia, or COVID-19. The Shelter has a rigorous cleaning routine, and an infectious disease control plan that includes asking individuals with signs of illness to self-quarantine (isolate) in their room during periods of infectiousness. This plan helps us to prevent or slow the spread of disease.
      • Knowing the risks and precautions in place, do you want to proceed with entering Shelter at this time?
    • In order to help you take care of your health, can you please tell us if you or anyone in your family is currently experiencing signs of illness such as fever, sneezing or coughing?
      • You may be asked to wear a mask to prevent the spread of illness, or stay in your room until the infectious period passes. Do you agree to this?
    • Do you have any reason to believe that you have currently come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, the coronavirus?
      • The Health Department has asked that individuals be screened for COVID -19 and self-isolate. Do you agree to remain in your room at Shelter until cleared by the Health Department?
    • Are you or is anyone in your family currently diagnosed with heart disease, lung disease or diabetes?
      • These are individuals who may be at higher risk for serious complications from catching respiratory diseases like influenza, pneumonia and COVID-19.
    • #4221
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      Elena Hampton-Stover
      Participant
      • Posts: 2

      I think particularly the first paragraph is great to give context to the nature of both risks and what is being done/can be done to mitigate those risks.

      We have also implemented screening questions regarding potential exposure to Covid-19, though I’m wondering how that squares with NNEDV’s guidance to not ask these screening questions in their recent document published about the virus.

    • #4245
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      Rebecca Van Brasch
      Participant
      • Posts: 2

      I know these questions were posted a few days ago, but I am wondering about what next steps are after you ask the incoming client all of this. If a client were to decline to self-quarantine or wear a mask like the questions are asking, does that mean they could not come into shelter?

      My shelters are also not staffed 24-hours (we only staff from 9-5 Monday-Friday), so we really have no way of knowing or ensuring that clients are maintaining quarantine procedures or respecting the protocols that we put in place. I’m wondering if anyone has any recommendations for impressing upon clients the serious nature of this crisis and ensuring that the safety of all clients and staff within the shelter is a priority for everyone.

    • #4246
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      Janice Miller
      Participant
      • Posts: 40

      Hi Rebecca,

      I do think it is a tough situation for all of us around the self-quarantine.  And in a situation where your building isn’t staffed 24/7 I can see how that might make it even more difficult.  Some of the considerations I thought of were:

      • It is inevitable that COVID 19 will come to our Shelters.  In order for herd immunity to be achieved, at least 70% of the population must have caught it (or been vaccinated and that doesn’t exist) and become immune.  This actually helped me to prepare residents and staff for the fact that we would have a case in shelter, so it wouldn’t be (hopefully) quite so alarming when it happens.
      • If we are relentless in our messaging about cleaning, social distancing, the impact that being reckless has on the most vulnerable, and the fact that we are all “in this together” then chances are good that more people will cooperate with these measures because they are familiar and accessible even when our brains are flooded with crisis hormones.
      • If we operate from a place that says that we CAN all work together and we KNOW everyone wants to protect themselves and the community, people are more likely to both practice safe measures and have the language to gently hold each other accountable.

      Thankfully, we have yet to have a diagnosed case, though we have had a few recent residents with other contagious illness (stomach bug, flu).  These cases have also given everyone a chance to slow their reactions, practice compassion, and see how well our measures are working.  I’d give us a “B”, but that gives us room to improve before the pandemic crosses our threshold!

    • #4248
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      Rebecca Van Brasch
      Participant
      • Posts: 2

      Thank you! I appreciate your reply. I think we can do a better job opening up a discussion with our clients and involving them in this process. Hopefully that will create more of a sense of community and responsibility for slowing the spread. Thanks so much!

  • #4212
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    Janice Miller
    Participant
    • Posts: 40

    And this webinar link provided by the Baltimore County Homeless Roundtable that will take you to the recorded HUD webinar (in case you tried to join the call and it was full).
    <h3>HUD Infectious Disease Preparedness for Homeless Assistance Providers Webinar Update: Materials Posted and Upcoming Office Hours</h3>

  • #4213
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    Stephanie Player
    Participant
    • Posts: 1

    I think these questions are great! The only change I would make is to the last one. Instead of asking about any specific health conditions, maybe phrase it like:

    If you or anyone in your family is currently diagnosed with heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, you may be at higher risk for serious complications from catching respiratory diseases like influenza, pneumonia and COVID-19.

    Considering this information and what we’ve discussed so far, do you still want to proceed with entering Shelter at this time?

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • #4214
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      Janice Miller
      Participant
      • Posts: 40

      That is a great suggestion, Stephanie!  I really like that phrasing better.

  • #4215
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    Janice Miller
    Participant
    • Posts: 40

    One of the biggest challenges is managing people’s fear around this virus.  I’ve realized that most people have never lived through a true public health crisis.  The last time crises like this occurred was in the middle of the last century (just writing that makes me feel old).  As a result, most folks are treating this like they would a weather emergency – stock up and plan to be out for 5 days and then everything returns to normal.

    Here is some language that I sent to my staff to try to help put this crisis into context.

    “A note about this virus: this is a brand new virus.  No one in the human population has ever had it before now.  That means that all of us are at risk of catching it.  Two weeks of closure in Maryland is just to try to slow the spread of disease – it will not prevent it from coming to us.  It may prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.  It may allow for the development of a vaccine.  If we (the agency) move to outbreak status before we are actually in outbreak, people will use all of their leave and be in a worse place when the leave is really needed.  Also recall from the document that 80% of people will have zero or minimal symptoms.  Stay home if you are experiencing signs and symptoms.  Wash your hands frequently. Call your healthcare professional if you are concerned.  Remember that 3 days absence will require a doctor’s note. Please carefully consider your individual risk and talk through any legitimate medical leave needs with your supervisor and Human Resources.

    If we take reasonable precautions, we can continue to keep ourselves safe and also serve the vulnerable populations we work with.”

  • #4216
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    Janice Miller
    Participant
    • Posts: 40

    Hello all,

    The YWCA’s “Infectious Disease Outbreak Policy” has this wonderful language around staff salaries.  They have given me permission to share it here:

    “Continuation of Salary and Benefits:
    The YWCA is committed to the financial stability of team members. It is the intention of
    the organization to provide compensation for the first five (5) business days that facilities
    may be closed and will continue to provide compensation contingent on availability
    and authorization of funding. It is the intention of the YWCA for paychecks to continue
    being distributed via direct deposit; contingent to access to banking. For team
    members to be eligible, they must have worked immediately preceding the closure
    and return at the end of the closure. They must have access to a telecommuting
    device, participate in all virtual meetings and complete assigned work.”

  • #4217
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    Janice Miller
    Participant
    • Posts: 40

    We are really committed to staying open during the crisis.  Here are some ways we are managing staff risk:

    • We currently have staff on staggered shifts with leads working remotely one week and on site during the next week.
    • We provided gloves for use on shifts and have implemented heightened cleaning with 10% bleach solution, disinfecting spray, and alcohol wipes.
    • Hand sanitizer is currently available.  Hand washing is encouraged frequently.
    • Staff are to stay 6 feet away from each other and residents if at all possible.
    • We would like to provide masks for sick residents, but we do not currently have access to any.
    • We are requesting residents with symptoms to self-isolate and we will bring meals to their rooms.

    Any other great suggestions?

    • #4222
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      Elena Hampton-Stover
      Participant
      • Posts: 2

      These are great, Janice. We also implemented a door knob wiping procedure. When staff do rounds through the shelter during their shift, they wipe every door knob with a sanitizing wipe.

  • #4237
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    Joanne Sharff
    Participant
    • Posts: 2

    Hi All,

    I wanted to echo that we are using screening questions after approving someone to come into shelter as mentioned above. We are also taking similar steps to manage staff/client risk. We have bedrooms/bathrooms identified for separate use (for now) by anyone displaying symptoms.

    A question for the group…is anyone compensating staff differently than normal pay for working onsite at this time and, if not, are you planning to if they will be working directly with known sick people?

    Thanks for any feedback or suggestions!

    • #4238
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      Janice Miller
      Participant
      • Posts: 40

      Hi Joanne,

      That’s a great question.  Currently we are not compensating people differently,but do have plans to pay “emergency pay” of time and a half for our Essential Staff if there is a diagnosed case on site.  Some additional helps to support our residential staff include transportation assistance to anyone who would normally take public transportation (via cab), and ability to eat a meal on shift as prepared by our kitchen staff (as the restaurants are now closed).  We set up separate tracking sheets to ensure we don’t charge those expenses to our grants meant to support survivors.

  • #4243
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    Janice Miller
    Participant
    • Posts: 40

    A great, easy to digest series of podcasts and additional resources:
    <h4>COVID-19 Resources from Johns Hopkins</h4>
    The Bloomberg School of Public Health has created a digital library of COVID-19 resources, including a new daily podcast called Public Health on Call that is hosted by Initiative director Joshua Sharfstein. Visit the digital library.

    • #4244
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      Joanne Sharff
      Participant
      • Posts: 2

      Hi Janice,

      Thanks! That’s what we’ve been discussing for residential staff as well…paying time and a half in the event of a diagnosed case on site. In that instance, are you planning to pay time and a half to any essential staff working on site? I ask because our hotline staff is asking about time and a half but they work on a different floor and don’t have contact with shelter clients. Just trying to get a feel for how agencies are handling compensation for nonresidential essential staff.

    • #4247
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      Janice Miller
      Participant
      • Posts: 40

      Hi Joanne,

      Our Emergency Outbreak policy clearly states that for staff to be eligible for Emergency pay, they must be (a) required essential staff and (b) working on site.  Remote workers may still get paid for working, but not get time and a half.

      Maybe think about if there is a way to separate your hotline staff – restrict movement to residential floor? use a separate stairwell or entry? or is there a way to move the hotline to remote answer?

  • #4251
    Avatar
    Janice Miller
    Participant
    • Posts: 40

    The big questions of the day:

    Who has a surge plan in place?

    • We are currently exploring on-boarding a couple of people to work as back up on call for the next 2 months.

    Anyone have a good lead on where to get protective masks for people experiencing symptoms?

    Does your area’s Shelter in Place order include actual guidance on what that looks like for Shelters?

    • We did get a letter in writing from the Governor’s office that indicates Shelter and Hotline workers are essential staff in case they are stopped for traveling.

     

  • #4269
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    Janice Miller
    Participant
    • Posts: 40

    The last couple of weeks have been quite a whirlwind!  How are folks doing?  Our latest challenge is finding key supplies like paper towels and toilet paper, basic cleaning supplies and bleach – without markup.  What are some other challenges folks are facing?

  • #4305
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    Kristina Page
    Participant
    • Posts: 4

    A few of the new challenges were to create what this new norm will look like for service delivery, staffing and to support staff as we navigate the virtual world more frequently which can be exhausting to be connected so much. I found this article helpful in suggesting to my team how to be mindful of the exhaustion that teleservices can cause.

    https://www.mindful.org/zoom-exhaustion-is-real-here-are-six-ways-to-find-balance-and-stay-connected/

    • #4306
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      Janice Miller
      Participant
      • Posts: 40

      Thank you for sharing this article, Kristina.  I may try the suggestion to use Speaker View when I’m on a call.  About 2 weeks into remote meetings, I figured out that I had to stop scheduling back to back meetings and leave myself 30 minutes between.  It really does take much more focus on a video conference.

      One other suggestion I have found helpful is to hide my camera view.  In an in person meeting, we do not spend any time at all looking at ourselves while looking at others.  While it has been illuminating to see how other’s might see me, it is often distracting to monitor my own image!

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