July 30, 2020 | News
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE) remains committed to providing the highest quality of supports and services. Our top priority is the well-being of those we are honored to serve and our dedicated staff. We are committed to serving the needs of the individuals we serve while also having the privilege and responsibility of providing an essential service that our communities rely on.
During this public health crisis, our approach is informed by guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local health officials. We remain committed to our mission and providing many of the services we have offered for over 40 years to Long Island, Queens and New York City.
OPWDD’s March 24, 2020 guidance related to home visits is hereby rescinded and replaced with the following guidance. Effective July 15, 2020 for regions of the State that have entered into Phase Four in accordance the New York Forward Reopening Plan, and until further notice, home visits may recommencefor individuals living within OPWDD certified residential facilities, consistent with the restrictions herein:
Individuals may resume participation in home and family visits with all appropriate risk mitigation strategies in place. These include safe social distancing, use of masks or other face coverings when tolerated, meticulous attention to hand washing and proper cleaning and disinfection.
Please be reminded that during any off-site visit, exposure to members of different households and to public places, in general, should be done with extreme caution and on a limited basis. Good hygiene must be practiced and safe social distancing should be maintained, whenever possible. Consistent with Executive Order 202.17, masks must be worn in public whenever social distancing cannot be maintained, to the extent they can be medically tolerated.
Individuals may participate in home or family visits only if all of the following circumstances are met:
Prior to home visits, staff will discuss strategies to best implement these practices and ensure that families have face coverings if needed.
Families wishing to visiting inside our residences:
This will only be permitted if an individual we support has their own room or if this is a designated space in the home that is conducive to assure adherence to social distancing requirements. A family may visit for up to one-hour and must wear PPE and maintain 6 feet of distance during the visit.
FREE will not provide transportation during this time for any home visit.
Programs will observe returning residents for signs and symptoms of illness for 14 days after return to the residence.
For Reintroduction of Individuals to Certified Residences After Extended Home Visits
Programs will observe returning residents for signs and symptoms of illness for 14 days after return to the residential facility. Therefore, another extended visit cannot be scheduled within 14 days.
Documentation Requirements for Home Visits:
In order to be able to sufficiently trace and track any potential COVID-19 exposure, providers are required to maintain a daily log of all home visits and other visits off-site from the certified residence.
Effective July 15, 2020 for regions of the State that have entered into Phase Four in accordance the New York Forward Reopening Plan, community outings may resume for individuals living within OPWDD certified residential facilities. Furthermore, individuals may resume low risk activities, such as going to medical or professional service appointments and work, and participating in community-based outings, as described below, to the extent permitted by NY Forward, and consistent with the restrictions of this guidance and all applicable NYS directives.
In order to prevent further community spread or increased risk of infection, residential providers shall ensure that the following conditions are met:
Individuals who participate in community outings without staff present must be provided with hand sanitizer and a face covering and should understand the risks and obligations of public exposure, as well as the expectations regarding reporting as outlined below.
Interim Transportation Requirements for Community Outings
Community outings requiring transportation to and from a location should be implemented on a limited basis and only when providers of certified residential facilities can ensure that all infection control and mitigation strategies will be applied during the transportation of individuals to and from community outings. The following measures will be required in order to transport individuals for community outings:
The following measures will be required for agency vehicles used to transport individuals to home visits:
Interim Documentation Requirements for Community Outings
In order to be able to sufficiently trace and track any potential COVID-19 exposure, in addition to the requirements set forth above, providers are required to maintain a daily log of all community outings from the home.
• Most importantly we have all of the essential supplies and services to safely care for those we serve. This includes CD approved sanitation supplies as well as the personal protective equipment.
• We launched our own in-house FREE-POD food and supplies delivery service. Demand for grocery delivery has exponentially increased amid the novel coronavirus pandemic while the large service companies are finding it challenging to meet the growing need. FREE-POD delivers door-to-door food and other essential household items and personal protective equipment to each of our homes, independent housing and individuals living with their families. Experienced FREE team members are delivering the items that have been greatly appreciated.
• Streamlining new hire orientation to provide online uninterrupted training and development of new employees
• Redeploying staff and resources to the sites where needed to ensure the continuity of support and services
• Managing staff coverage and being very mindful of the needs of the agency, as well as personal health concerns
• Offering remote services to day and community habilitation to persons living at home to provide continuity of services
• Sanitizing our program sites and residences regularly; deep cleaning as necessary
• Following the safety protocols and visitor restrictions recommended by federal, state and local agencies
• Keeping the people we serve who show symptoms isolated as best as we can, and ensuring they receive appropriate medical care
• Utilizing telemedicine to access medical care virtually
• Encouraging social distancing, as challenging as that is for the healthcare industry
• Keeping the people we serve and those who serve them informed, safe and supported
• FREE administrators and medical personnel are available 24/7 to triage health-related concerns and answer any questions our teams may have
For more information or questions:
We are more than ever committed to the safety, health, and well-being of the people we serve, our staff, and the community.
As we work together to navigate through the COVID-19 public health crisis, we remain dedicated to providing critical services to the most vulnerable individuals and families who need our support now more than ever.
As we cope with this public health crisis we need your help to ensure that FREE is able to provide increased services and supports in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Your gift to FREE will make a difference and help us continue to address the pressing needs of the thousands of lives who are relying on us right now for their emotional and physical health.
We hope we can count on you to help us by making an online donation.
Thank you so much for your compassion and generosity. We are in this together and we will get through this with the support of caring people like you.