Support, Inc. will soon host it’s second Town Hall Meeting of 2021. Put on by our Associate Director of Quality Assurance, Laura Viers, and Director of Residential Services, Brian Farestad, these informative meetings provide the opportunity for constituents and providers alike to learn more about our recent COVID-19 updates and vaccine rollouts across the front range.
We want to thank everyone that joined our first Town Hall last month as we covered COVID-19 updates and details related to the vaccine. Many people asked good questions and this also gave us a chance to catch up over Zoom and to see how folks have been doing in recent weeks.
We’re hosting another Town Hall this month-for more information, please the flyer posted below. The purpose of these Town Halls is to make sure that you as providers and family members, are receiving good communication from Support, Inc., have the opportunity to connect with a larger group of people and are able to ask questions and give feedback that you may have. To RSVP, please contact Cathy at Cathy.Kellogg@supportinc.com and she will send you the Zoom link.
The following information was produced by our Associate Director of Quality Assurance, Laura Viers, on February 3rd, 2021:
To all Support, Inc. Staff, Providers and Families,
Colorado continues to review and update the State’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. On the updated plan below, highlighted in green are the groups the state is currently offering the vaccine to, this is people in Phase 1A and Phase 1B.1. The biggest change to the updated plan includes splitting Phase 1B into additional categories. This includes moving Coloradoan’s who are age 65-69 up in eligibility to Phase 1B.2, this will be the next group of people to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Governor Polis announced the Sate expects to move into Phase 1B.2 on February 8th.
Group 1B.3 includes Coloradoan’s age 16-64 who have two
or more high risk conditions. Many individuals in services may be eligible
in this phase of the vaccine. The state has defined these high risk
categories to include; Coloradoan’s with cancer (defined as a patient currently
receiving treatment or having received treatment within the last month for
cancer), chronic kidney disease, COPD, diabetes mellitus, Down Syndrome,
specific heart conditions (heart failure, cardiomyopathies, or coronary heart
disease, and severe valvular/congenital heart disease), obesity ((BMI ≥
30kg/m^2), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, solid organ transplant and people
with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks.
Now is the time to discuss with the individual(s) you
support what their desire is for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Having these
conversations now will ensure the individual’s team understands the person’s
wishes regarding the vaccine as well as any supports that may be needed once
the individual is eligible. Having a plan now is crucial to ensure individuals
can get the supports needed to access the vaccine when they become eligible.
There is a lot happening with seemingly constant changes
regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. While employees and contractors of Support,
Inc. are eligible in Phase 1B.1 vaccine availability across the state varies
and there is a larger demand for the vaccine than there is supply to meet that
demand. Each county health department has a different process for connecting
eligible Coloradoans with a vaccine provider. Some counties have been slower to
get appointments set up or respond to our requests for large scale clinics for
our employees and contractors. The slow speed to get a vaccine appointment is
frustrating but hang in there. We remain committed to breaking through any
barriers to help support you in getting the vaccine.
The question often comes up about how we can get
individual’s in services scheduled to receive their vaccine. At this time
individual’s with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities do not have their
own unique group on Colorado’s Phased distribution plan. Individual’s receiving
services will be eligible for the vaccine based on the individual diagnosis and
age. We are also not able to set up clinics to administer the vaccine to
individual’s in services. As Colorado continues to increase vaccine supply and
subsequent phases become eligible, we hope to see more vaccine options for all
constituents of Support, Inc. We will continue to monitor these develops and
ensure we provide updates on a regular basis.
Please reach out to your team or me with any questions or concerns.
With the start of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution underway, Support, Inc. is encouraged that all of our stakeholders will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine in the near future. Some of our individuals in service that are over the age of 70 are already receiving their first dose of the vaccine. It is understandable that this process may take several months as there is limited access to the vaccine and some confusion around an individual’s eligibility.
As the vaccine becomes available, the following are some of Support, Inc.’s expectations for staff, contractors, families, and individuals in services:
• Receiving the vaccine is voluntary. Although this is the case, we strongly urge everyone to participate unless a health condition precludes you from taking the vaccine.
• If you do not receive a vaccination, this may limit your ability to work directly with some individuals in service. This will depend on the health characteristics of the individual and the setting where the service will be occurring. At a minimum, social distancing, wearing a mask, frequent hand washing, and other infection control procedures will need to continue.
• Participation or non-participation in the vaccine distribution process will be tracked. This is required by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), our licensing agency. The information will be held confidentially and used for health and safety considerations of our individuals in service along with aggregate reporting to CDPHE.
• We are here to help you get vaccinated. Help is available for all employees, contractors, families, and individuals in services to get the vaccine. Please contact one of your team members if you need any assistance at all in getting the vaccine. If you have any questions at all, please talk to your supervisor or a team member for assistance.
To all Support, Inc. Staff, Providers, and Families;
Colorado continues to work through Phase 1A of the State’s
COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan and hopes to have the majority of Phase 1A
health care workers vaccinated by January 15th. Over the last week, Colorado
updated the states COVID-19 vaccine plan. The updated plan expands who is
included in Phase 1B to include Coloradoan’s age 70 or older, first responders,
front line essential workers and continuity of state government. This week, the
State started administering vaccinations to individuals in Phase 1B. We have
not received an update on which Phase constituents of Support, Inc. will be
eligible for the vaccine however, individuals, providers or family members who
are age 70 or older are eligible to get the vaccine at this time.
If someone you support is 70 years of age or over, they are eligible to get the vaccine now. The first step is to contact the individual’s primary care physician to discuss the vaccine and scheduling the two-step vaccine process. Attached is a plain language informational document about the COVID-19 vaccine that was developed by and for people with intellectual disabilities. Vaccine availability varies based on the federal supply and distribution throughout the state. Colorado expects to continue to get weekly shipments of the vaccine.
Q: Will I be charged for the cost of the vaccine?
A: No, the vaccine will not cost
you anything. Medicare, Medicaid, CHP+ and private insurances are required to
cover the cost of the vaccine. In addition, uninsured Coloradoan’s will also
have access to a free vaccine.
Q: Do I still need to wear a mask and physically distance
after receiving the vaccine?
A: Yes. It takes time after getting
both steps of the vaccine for your body to respond and make enough antibodies
to protect you. This could take up to one to two weeks after your last dose.
Current data suggests that it is possible that someone who has been vaccinated
against COVID-19 may still have mild to asymptomatic infection or spread the
virus to others. So, it is important to continue to take precautions by wearing
a mask and practicing social distancing.
Q: Should I get a COVID-19 test to see if I am infected
before getting the vaccine?
A: No. The CDC does not recommend
getting tested to see if you are infected before getting the vaccine. If you do
not have symptoms and have not been recently exposed to COVID-19, there is no
need to get a test before deciding whether to get vaccinated.
Q: I already had COVID-19 and have recovered; do I still
need to get the vaccine?
A: Both the Moderna and Pfizer
vaccines are likely safe and effective in people who have recovered from a
previous COVID-19 infection. The Advisory Committee recommends waiting at least
90 days after recovering from COVID-19 before getting the vaccine. It is
currently unknown how long natural immunity lasts after recovering from
COVID-19 and, early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long
as cases of reinfection have been reported.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at Laura.Viers@supportinc.com. Be sure to never miss our correspondences; follow us on Facebook, be sure you are on email and newsletter distribution lists and continue to check out our website for on-going updated about COVID-19 and other happenings around the organization.
To all Support, Inc. staff, providers, and families;
As the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our lives
over the last 9 months, there has been a lot of talk, questions and hopes for a
COVID-19 vaccination. An FDA (Food and Drug Administration) advisory committee
met on Thursday December 10th to review the Pfizer vaccine. The
committee resulted in a 77% “yes” vote that based on the totality of evidence,
the benefit of the Pfizer vaccine outweighs the risk for use in individuals age
16 and older. This was the last step in the process for Pfizer before the FDA
approves emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine. Over the weekend, the FDA
accepted the committee’s recommendation and approved the vaccine under the
Emergency Use Authorization. His is a pivotal moment in the pandemic as the
first vaccine being approved for use in the United States. While we do not have
all the answers, we wanted to provide some information on what we do know at
Q: What is an Emergency Use Authorization?
A: An EUA (Emergency Use
Authorization) is a way to facilitate the availability and use of things like
vaccines during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Under
EUA the FDA may allow an unapproved medical product to prevent serious
life-threatening diseases or conditions. Manufacturers submit an EUA request to
the FDA to be evaluated and to determine if statutory criteria are met. You can
read more about Emergency use Authorizations here.
Q: When can I get the vaccine?
A: This week, Colorado released a 3 phased roll out plan for the vaccine. Below is a description and timeline for each phase.
Q: Where can I get the vaccine?
A: Once a vaccine has been approved
for use by the FDA, Phase 1 recipients will receive the vaccine through their
employer (such as hospitals), local health agencies or through the Federal
Government’s pharmacy partnership for long term care programs. The Pfizer
vaccine requires ulta low temperature storage (-60 to -80 Celsius). Colorado
has identified 24 locations with the ability to store the vaccine at this
temperature and has purchased an additional 10 ulta low temperature freezers.
The state will release information for phase 2 and phase 3 vaccination
locations in the future.
Q: Will there only be one vaccine option?
A: At this time, the Pfizer vaccine
has been approved. Moderna has also applied to the FDA for authorization
through the Emergency use Authorization. There are 3 additional companies
working on clinical trials for a vaccination. It is likely individual states
and counties will get different vaccines based on manufacturing and
distribution from each company.
News of a vaccine is encouraging. At the moment constituents
of Support, Inc. may be eligible to receive the vaccine during Phase 2.
This may change and as we learn more information, we will send additional
updates. While we all anticipate the vaccine, it continues to be important we
all take steps to keep ourselves, our families and individual we support safe.
This includes, wearing a face covering/ mask when we are in public, washing
hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer frequently, minimizing
contact with people we don’t live with and when we do have to have contact with
people who don’t live in our home, staying 6 feet apart.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Laura at Laura.Viers@supportinc.com
As the United States experiences an increase in COVID-19,
Colorado is also hitting a pivotal moment in this pandemic. Colorado is seeing
an alarming increase in the positivity rate of COVID-19 to a level we haven’t
seen since earlier this year. Colorado is at a daily positivity rate of 9.76%
and weekly average of 8.10% which shows declining transmission control across
the State. Health Experts including the CDC have indicated at a 5% positivity
rate, States and Counties are doing a good job of controlling the spread of the
virus. The continued rise of COVID-19 has prompted CDPHE (Colorado Department
of Public Health and Environment) to update the statewide health order. The
update asks for people to “shrink their bubble” by limiting personal gatherings
to no more than 10 individuals from no more than 2 separate households. While
many counties around the state are already moving to more restrictive measures,
Colorado has the chance now to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to avoid further
restrictions. You can follow this link
to see what level your county is in.
It’s imperative we all do our part to help reduce the spread
of COVID-19 in our communities. You can do this by limiting your contact with
the people you don’t live with and utilizing the attached activity risk scale
to make informed decisions prior to engaging in activities. When you are around
others that don’t live with you, wear a mask/ face covering, stay 6 feet apart
and don’t gather in groups of more than 10 and from 2 households.
We at Support, Inc. are limiting our non-essential activities during this time. This includes limiting our use of the offices to only necessary trips. We are also limiting our in-person visits and utilizing virtual tools whenever possible. Our day program and DSP services will continue to run as normal at this time. Please continue to stay in touch with your team should you or anyone in your home become exposed to or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. We can all protect ourselves and the individuals we support to reduce the spread of the virus by following these infection control practices.
COVID-19 symptoms may appear in as little as 2 days but may
not appear for 14 days after being exposed. If you have been exposed, you may
not yet be displaying symptoms and may never display symptoms (asymptomatic).
This poses the risk of spreading the virus to others before you become
symptomatic or are aware you have been infected. Protect yourself and others by
following the infection control steps above and monitor yourself and the
individuals in your home for symptoms of COVID-19.
– Fever and chills
– Shortness of breath or difficulty berating
– Muscle or body aches
– New loss of taste or smell
– Sore throat
– Congestion or runny nose
– Nausea or vomiting
Many of these symptoms are the same symptoms as the Flu. For
the best protection from the Flu it’s best to get a flu shot by the end of
October. There are many options to get your flu shot this year including local
pharmacies, grocery stores or at your primary care physician’s office. If you
or the individual you support need assistance finding a location to get the flu
shot, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your RPC.
As Colorado reaches this pivotal point in the pandemic, we can all do our part to keep ourselves and the individual’s we support safe and healthy and slow the spread of COVID-19. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime. We also have a few infographics to share, to help guide the decision making process for the next several weeks.
The following write-up was produced by our Associate Director of Quality Assurance, Laura Viers:
I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to provide a quick update on COVID-19 in the state.
On September 12th Governor Polis extended the
statewide mask mandate. The mandate first went into effect in July and is
reviewed every 30 days to extend the order as necessary. The order requires
wearing a mask or face covering, that covers the nose and mouth, when entering
or moving within any public indoor space.
Over the last few weeks, Colorado has seen an increase in
positive COVID-19 cases and increased hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
Colorado has moved to using a dial framework to determine the “openness” of
each county. This is a change from the previous statewide level’s we saw
several months ago. The dial framework has five levels and individual counties
may move between these levels. Counties determine their level based on 1) new
cases- the rate the virus is circulating in a county 2) percent positivity- is
there sufficient COVID-19 testing to capture the rate of viral
transmission and, 3) the impact on local hospitals- whether
hospitalizations are increasing, decreasing or stabilizing. Counties consult
with CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) to move to
less restrictive levels when they meet and sustain all three of these metrics
for two weeks. Use this link
to see what level your county is in.
As Colorado experiences an overall increase in cases and
hospitalization, it’s important we remain up to date and stay diligent to
protect ourselves and others. The best way to protect yourself, the
individual’s you support, and your family is to continue infection control
practices. This includes wearing a mask when you are in public, staying 6 feet
apart from people you don’t live with and wash your hands/ use hand sanitizer
frequently especially after touching shared surfaces and before and after
taking off your mask/ face covering.
As summer comes to an end and fall is just around the
corner, so if flu season. This year more than ever the CDC encourages people to
get a flu vaccination. Everyone over the age of 6 months is encouraged to get a
flu vaccine by the end of October. Vaccinations for high risk person’s is
especially important. Many risk factors that put people at high risk for
complications due to COVID-19 also put people at high risk for experiencing
complications due to the flu. These risk factors shared by both viruses are;
people over the age of 65, chronic health conditions including asthma,
diabetes, heart and lunch conditions and women who are pregnant. COVID-19 and
the flu share many similar symptoms which may make it difficult for physician’s
to diagnosis which virus someone is suffering from. There are several options
to get your flu shot however because of the pandemic and social distancing
measures, most places will require an appointment. You can get a flu shot at
your local pharmacy, community health clinic or primary care physician’s
office, call first to schedule an appointment.
As always please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or
your RPC with any questions you have.
Laura Viers Associate Director of Quality Assurance
Support, Inc. will monitor developments of COVID -19 and follow recommendations and orders of the CDC, CDPHE, HCPF, CMS, state and county governments. This protocol will be updated as needed with any changes. Support, Inc. will provide on-going updates and communication through email, website and social media. Posters will be put up in common areas of the office to encourage employees to stay home when sick and provide infection control steps and cough and sneeze etiquette.
The following rules apply for anyone who is sick, showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19, has been exposed to someone presumed to have COVID-19 for having or known to have COVID-19:
· Employees should not visit the office or have contact with individuals in services and will follow the COVID-19 exposure procedure. Employees will immediately report their symptoms or exposure details to their supervisor.
· Contractors should not visit the office. The provider will immediately inform their Residential Program Coordinator and begin to self-isolate in a designated room of the home. When possible, a certified co-provider without symptoms or exposure should provide all direct care. If a certified co-provider is not available, the provider should follow universal precautions when interacting and providing care to individuals in the home. This includes wearing a mask and gloves and following infection control steps.
All employees and contractors will follow infection control practices to protect against the spread of illness.
Employees and contractors will stay informed of developments of COVID-19, recommendations from state and federal authorities, and local ordinances and restrictions. Employees will stay in close communication with individuals in service, providers and their supervisor to help navigate potential high-risk activities. Examples of situations that should be discuss include;
· Air travel
· Travel to high-risk areas or areas designated as ‘hot-spots’
· Attending gathering of 10 or more people
· Participating in activities where people will not be social distancing
· Participating in activities that will put you in close contact with other people or activities in which you have to share tools or equipment with others
Employees and contractors will also consider their own personal risk factors and those of the individual when discussing the above situations. The following groups of people are considered to be high risk of experiencing complications due to COVID- 19:
· People 65 years of age or older
· People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
· People who have a serious heart condition
· Those who are immunocompromised
· Pregnant women
· Those determined to be high risk by a licensed healthcare provider
· Anyone living in a home with an individual considered vulnerable
Prior to an individual in services returning to work or day program services, an IDT meeting will be held and documented. The IDT will discuss the following to determine the appropriateness of the individual returning;
· Individual risk factors noted above
· The individual’s ability and willingness to wear a mask or face covering
· The individual’s ability and willingness to maintain social distancing
· How the individual will be transported to and from day program/work
· How the day program/work site will ensure the individual’s health and safety such as social distancing, mask wearing, and how outbreaks will be communicated
The Associate Director of Quality Assurance will respond to COVID-19 concerns and questions by email email@example.com or phone 970-667-7424 ext.200.
Operating protocol for Aurora office use:
Employees who can should work from home as much as possible. When using the office:
· Employees will utilize the calendar to schedule times they will be in the office.
· In-person meeting and trainings at the office will have no more than 6 people.
· The conference rooms will be marked indicating 6 feet between chairs. Chairs will not be moved from these markings.
· The office will be cleaned on a regular basis, and disinfectant wipes/spray will be available for employees to use as needed.
· All employees will wear a face covering or mask in the office when social distancing (6 feet between people) is not able to be maintained or the environment may be unpredictable.
o Example of unpredictable environments are walking around office areas such as bathrooms, kitchen, printer area, etc.
Visitors will not be permitted into the office without appointment.
· All visitors are required to wear face masks or face coverings when entering the office.
· Prior to entry, all visitors will be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 using Support, Inc.’s screening questions.
· Contractors are asked to scan, fax or take pictures of any paperwork or receipts to send into the office instead of dropping off hard copies.
Operating protocol for site-based services
Prior to any individual receiving group day habilitation services, Support, Inc. will review the person’s vulnerability/risk level, ability and willingness to follow social distancing orders and wearing a mask or face covering. The following groups of people are considered to be high risk for experiencing complications due to COVID-19:
§ People 65 years of age or older
§ People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
§ People who have a serious heart condition§ Those who are immunocompromised
§ Pregnant women
§ Those determined to be high risk by a licensed healthcare provider
§ Anyone living in a home with an individual considered vulnerable
1. The setting will not exceed capacity to the point of reducing safe and appropriate social distancing (at least 6 feet between people).
a. Staff will encourage and maintain social distancing between people during dining, when in motion around the site, and during other activities.
b. There will be a minimum of 50 square feet per person in the space.
2. Face masks or face coverings will be worn
a. All staff will wear a face mask or face covering while rendering services.
b. Participants are encouraged to wear a mask or face covering.
i. Support, Inc. has provided re-usable face coverings for all participants.
ii. Staff will educate, encourage and monitor participant use of masks.
3. Participants must safely travel to/from the setting. Social distancing must be maintained during transportation. If non-medical transportation is utilized, rides will be limited to:
a. One person per 5-passenger vehicle
b. Two people per 7-passenger vehicle
c. Five people per 15-passsenger vehicles.
d. If individuals reside in the same home, they may travel together without restrictions.
4. Appropriate facility cleaning methods will be followed:
a. The location will be professionally cleaned Monday-Friday
b. The location will be professionally disinfected meeting EPA requirements every other week
c. On-going cleaning and disinfecting will occur daily on frequently touched/ used surfaces including but not limited to door handles, tables, activity supplies, etc.
5. Prior to any staff or members entering the settings, limited health screening will be completed by the floor supervisor. Limited health screenings of employees will be recorded and filed in SharePoint. The screening will include;
i. Symptom screening
ii. Temperature taken
iii. Travel screening
6. In the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 or potential exposure, Support, Inc. will communicate on an individual, case by case basis.
7. If further restrictions or program closures must occur, changes will be communicated to participants and providers through email, website, in-person and/or automated phone message.
Operating protocol for ‘other’ client contact
1. Before visiting an individual, employees will complete COVID-19 screening questions prior to arriving to the home. Providers will communicate to staff should the individual develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 to determine appropriateness of the staff visiting.
2. Social distancing (at least 6 feet between people) will be maintained when possible.
3. Staff will wear a face covering or mask at all times.Support, Inc. screening questions:
Do you or anyone in your home have the presence of any of these flu-like symptoms?
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
In the past 14 days, have you or anyone in the home had contact with someone who has been exposed to or has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
In the past 14 days, have you or anyone in the home traveled via airplane internationally or domestically?
Great job to everyone following the recommended infection
control protocols by the Centers for Disease Control and local guidance
published by the Colorado Department of Public Environment (CDPHE). We have had some close calls, but no major
known exposures or outbreaks.
Looking forward to the upcoming summer season, and the
lowering of restrictions in our communities, it is imperative that we continue
to remain vigilant. This means following
the infection control standards, making informed decisions about activities you
may be considering, and discussing your activities with your Support, Inc. team
when needed. The individuals that we
serve are considered highly vulnerable to COVID-19, and therefore we all must
diligently follow the guidance and limit everyone’s exposure to stop the spread.
You can visit Support, Inc.’s website for the latest news
and information, or the CDPHE website for more COVID-19 related
information. Links are below:
We also have our updated screening questions to be used before entering client homes. We will use this same screening tool for visitors entering our offices. For any questions on the screening assessment, please contact Laura at Laura.Viers@supportinc.com