We are thrilled to announce that Rimland received a $10,000 Niles Township Grant this year to fund activities that are safe to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Niles Township has been very generous over the years and has provided consistent funding to help us enrich our programming. This has been especially valuable to Rimland this year, as we have directed much of our funding to COVID-19 safety measures. Past grants have been awarded for physical and mental health initiatives, music and art lessons, nutritional programs, and more. This year’s funding will go towards purchasing educational, art, and outdoor activities. Our overall goal with these purchases is to provide wellness opportunities that are COVID-19 safe, provide mental and physical engagement, and can be done indoors and outdoors. These activities are also a long-term investment that can be used after the pandemic has passed. We are extremely grateful for the support of the Niles Township government and look forward to many more years of continued partnership for the overall success of our residents!
Hello All –
Exciting news! Due to where we are with the COVID-19 vaccination, we are able to relax the visitation restrictions. However, we are still very concerned with the variant strains of COVID-19. As of March 31, we will not have restrictions on the time length of the visits. You can also pick up your loved one and/or drop them off at group home. However, we CANNOT have any guardians, visitors, etc. in the homes. Guardians cannot go in the homes when they drop off their loved ones. Additionally, no visits can take place in the homes. You can pick up your loved ones from the group home for a home visit or take them out for a walk, ride, etc. If your loved one is going on a home visit, please schedule a visit with Barbara Cooper or Samina Rahim: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
We will also start doing visits at the main office, starting March 31. Those visits can be held as we did a few months ago. They can be 10am – 3pm Monday – Friday for an hour. Please schedule a visit with Barbara Cooper or Samina Rahim: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Visitors are subject to be tested for COVID-19.
Again, the restriction is that we cannot have any visits in the group homes. This restriction still applies to guardians who are vaccinated. We are concerned about the new variants of COVID-19. We also have to look out for our staff members; we cannot deplete our workforce. We have a few individuals who’s family decided not to get their loved ones vaccinated; those individuals can go on home visits but it must be a two week minimum. Please still keep gatherings small (recommended by the CDC) when you take your loved one on a home visit.
Thank you for everything and we are happy to answer any questions!!
The Rimland Team
Dear Rimland Community,
President Biden recently rolled out his pandemic strategy, which emphasizes better support & vaccine access for individuals with disabilities. You can read all about it below!
-The Rimland Team
To our Rimland community,
We want to let you know that since CVS has not provided our dates yet for the vaccine, we formed partnerships with the local health departments. Evanston Health Department will be vaccinating a majority of the individuals we support. They are looking at mid-February to begin vaccinating and we will share the dates as soon as we have them. Lake County Health Department was able to provide the vaccine for our two homes in Lake County yesterday (the Highland Park and Lake Zurich homes)! We are very excited!
The Rimland Team
Dear Parents & Guardians
We are excited to announce that Rimland will be participating in the global initiative of #GivingTuesday2020. Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.
During this unprecedented time, Rimland continues to strive to expand its programs and services to our community of clients. In order to meet our mission and provide the highest level of service and programs for our clients, we rely heavily on the generosity of individuals and businesses for continued support. Without that assistance, Rimland would not be able to support your loved ones with the level of care that they need and deserve. You can help strengthen this mission on #GivingTuesday2020.
As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic with all of you, and your loved ones remain healthy, but spending more time at home, we find our needs and goals have shifted. Safe communication and healthy visitation with your loved one during this unprecedented time is critical. Rimland is doing everything possible to make this a priority. We have already undertaken environmental mitigation such as installation of ventilation equipment in all our residential homes and at our Community Day Services location. We have purchased electrostatic sprayers for sanitation and increased professional cleaning personnel to ensure our homes are continually being disinfected.
As COVID-19 numbers rise, limitations continue to be placed on family visitations within the Rimland community due to local ordinances. Our current needs include advanced technical video equipment to help facilitate communication between our clients and their families. We are also seeking supplemental funding enabling our Health and Wellness department to purchase advanced temperature measurement devices and scanner kiosks for staff and client safety. You can help Rimland with this initiative.
We hope that you will take part and join us in the global initiative of #GivingTuesday2020
We ask that you make a commitment to support our appeal by making a cash donation and, via social media (Facebook, Instagram, email), ask others to do the same. Your generosity will make a difference to our clients, your loved ones, by allowing us to continue our work within our Rimland Community Day Services program and residential homes.
Please follow this link on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1ST to make your contribution.
If you are donating for #GivingTuesday2020 via our website, please use the donate button on the top right corner of the homepage and include the purpose of the donation in the memo.
As always, we appreciate your time and consideration. Be well, stay healthy.
Pamela Y. Watson
Chief Executive Officer
Rimland Services NFP
Dear Rimland Services Community,
As we enter the holiday season and approach a new year, I’m reminded about how grateful I am for the tireless efforts of our Direct Support Professionals, the backbone of our organization. This year has been anything but ordinary, and unfortunately this holiday season will be different from normal, too. While family traditions may not look the same, we can still share so much joy this holiday season as we remain healthy and safe.
Across Illinois and the rest of the country, we are seeing a surge in positive COVID-19 cases. We expect this to increase as the temperature drops and we spend more time inside. Social gatherings, whether at a house party, casual dinner, or restaurant, are places where people take their masks off to eat, drink, and chat; these are the primary situations in which COVID-19 is spread. It’s so important to follow the prevention methods that we know to be effective.
I know this is hard. And I know that this holiday season will be especially challenging for families separated from their loved ones. Taking precautions now will make future in-person celebrations even more joyous. We will feel good knowing that we did everything we could to protect our friends and family this winter.
On behalf of our Board of Directors and Leadership Team, allow me to extend our sincere desire that each of you will enjoy a peaceful and forward looking holiday season.
Pamela Y. Watson, CEO
Hello all –
We want to follow up on our previous update by getting your feedback on the COVID-19 vaccination, when it becomes available. The goal of this survey is to collect preliminary information in order to plan for the future. At this time, Rimland does not know the exact time frame of when we will be given the opportunity to be involved in the vaccination process. We welcome any questions you may have. Please note that the results of this survey will only be seen by our Health and Wellness/Leadership.
Hello Parents and Guardians,
We hope everyone is well, despite the news that COVID-19 numbers are on the rise. We know the question of the holidays are on everyone’s mind. If anyone is going to go on a home visit, the 14 day minimum will remain in place. If the numbers of cases stay at this pace, we will also require a COVID-19 test before a Rimland resident returns. On-site visits (at the main office) are still on hold with the number of cases in Illinois. For Thanksgiving, we are having catered dinners for each home from Boston Market. We welcome any questions you may have. If you would like to know more about COVID-19 testing, please reach out to our Health & Wellness Team.
We hope to be able to share more soon, hopefully as the number of cases decrease.
The Rimland Team
Dear Rimland Families,
Illinois is confronting a second wave of rising COVID-19infection rates. Illinois officials announced its time to revert to earlier lockdown levels in parts of the state. For now, we are suspending the indoor visits at the main office. We will continue to evaluate best practices and give you an update in the next few weeks. We will remain vigilante and stay on guard to protect, to the best of our ability, the Rimland Family.
Due in large measure to our shared commitment to safety, we will continue the 14 day home visit schedule. However, we request that your loved one receive a COVID-19 test prior to returning. This extra measure will prevent a more restrictive safety protocol. Please contact our Health and Wellness Department (Samina Rahim and Barbara Cooper) for locations near you.
The tougher restrictions come as the state reported more than 32,000 new coronavirus cases in the past seven days, the second highest number of infections in all U.S. states and territories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A project that Rimland is working on now is to become an accredited lab to administer COVID-19 tests. We just submitted an application to the Department of Health and Human Services. We are working with two Rimland parents who are physicians to obtain the Abbott Binax rapid test (also looking at other options). We hope this will be able to ease home visit restrictions.
We are also in communication with Evanston Public Health Department and Omnicare regarding vaccination assistance once approved by the FDA. Please let us know what you would like to do about having your loved one vaccinated. We are working with our legal team on mandated vaccinations for all employees.
Although this is a trying time, we are making this week fun for the individuals we support. We have a pumpkin patch that we have erected in the fenced in area of the main building. Each home is coming this week (no homes are co-mingling and the area is sanitized immediately following each group). Everyone is enjoying apple cider and donuts at the pumpkin patch. On Saturday, Halloween day, we are having pizza parties at each home. We will be sending pictures of the festivities and we will always make sure that your loved one will be aware and celebrate holidays as we get through this very stressful time.
In regards to the upcoming election, we would like to share a helpful document that explains how to assist cognitively impaired individuals exercise their right to vote. Please click the link below to access this quick guide
Hello Parents & Guardians,
We hope you are well. You might have seen this article about Illinois hitting a record number of cases in a single day. Rimland continues to be very steadfast in our COVID-19 prevention procedures. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions.
The Rimland Team
Dear Rimland Families,
Because of the vulnerable nature of our individuals, combined with the inherent risks of congregate living, we take aggressive efforts to limit COVID-19 exposure. We must remain steadfast in our fight to shield Rimland individuals from this virus. We continue to encourage outside visits and 14 day offsite visits with family with appropriate social distancing and limited contact. Rimland will be reassessing visitations on November 5th. The 14 day home visits cannot entirely prevent the risk of COVID-19 but it can mitigate the situation. Currently, infection rates are holding steady in Illinois (click here for additional details)
In addition, Rimland is working with Abbott to get COVID-19 test kits. We hope this might be a way to ease the restrictions that we have put in place. We intend to share more details soon. We also have a partnership with the Evanston Health Department, who has information and will be working with Rimland and the community when a vaccine is available. Please see their update below and know that we are in weekly communication with them.
We know the hardship and burden. Individuals at Rimland have the opportunity to celebrate birthdays and holidays with us (although we know families would like to get together). We started celebrating Halloween early October with home decorations and in home activities.
We will be in touch soon!
The Rimland Team
From the Director of Health & Human Services, City of Evanston:
I hope this message finds you well. The COVID-19 vaccine is in development and may become available to priority groups as early as this November. Each priority group has yet to be finally determined and in an effort to ensure our most vulnerable are prioritized for vaccination when vaccines become available, the Department is attempting to identify Priority Providers within Evanston.
A Priority Provider serves members of the priority groups and has the ability to receive, store, and administer the COVID-19 vaccine at their facilities. Please provide an answer for the following questions by October 15, 2020.
- Briefly describe the demographics of your residents
- Do you have the capacity to vaccinate your residents?
- Do you or have you had a seasonal flu vaccine program at your facility before?
- Do you have a medical director on staff?
The Evanston mass vaccination plan requires flexibility as new information comes in and our goal is to make sure Evanston is as prepared as possible. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you and continue to have a pleasant day.
Ike C. Ogbo
Disability Scoop, an online source for disability news, recently published an article about how a potential COVID-19 vaccine rollout could leave out individuals with disabilities. We encourage you to read the article and remain informed of how COVID-19 impacts the individuals & employees at Rimland. Please click here to read the article
Hello Parents and Guardians,
We have been keeping an eye on the Illinois COVID-19 cases and see that the numbers in Illinois are holding steady. We would like to open the option for home visits with a 14 day minimum. If you would like to schedule a visit, please reach out to Barb or Samina in our Health and Wellness Department. There are a few guidelines that we will be following for home visits.
Please take a daily temperature log for the duration of the visit. If someone becomes ill on their home visit, please contact our Health and Wellness Department right away. Please schedule the pick up and drop off for the visit at 1265 Hartrey in Evanston, Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm.
During the home visit, please limit outside activities and follow social distancing. This link (click here) rates the risk of COVID-19 by activity. When going out, please wear face masks and following hand washing recommendations.
Take care and thank you for your partnership during this time.
The Rimland Team
Dear Parents & Guardians,
We really appreciate your support during this life changing time. I’m sure you’re following the Illinois Department of Public Health and CDC statistics. Illinois is reporting an uptick in COVID-19 confirmed cases.
For this reason, we are enhancing our mitigation protocols, delaying our CDS (DT) reopening plans until further notice, and performing mandatory bi-weekly COVID-19 testing of certain key staff. All environmental adaptions have been made, including the advanced fan system for enhanced ventilation and air circulation at all of our sites. Health & Wellness is sourcing vendors to assure we have a sufficient stock pile of PPE for Fall, as we project to see a surge in cases according to CDC reports.
I know that many families are burdened by the visitation policy we have in place. That policy will remain in place for the immediate future. In that regard, I’d like to ask each parent/guardian to be on time, respect the number of visitors, remain in the visiting area during the visit (our building is not open to outside visitors at this time), and to book appointments one week in advance. Some parents/guardians request weekend visits due to work schedules. Unfortunately, our licensed Health & Wellness staff conduct more in-depth health checks of clients during those times and are unable to be in the office.
In the meantime, please let us know how you feel about your loved one receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, if and when an FDA approved vaccination becomes available. Please speak directly with your loved one’s primary care physician for more information on vaccination developments.
We wish we had better news to share about relaxing our visitation policy. To the best of our ability, we hope to keep everyone in the Rimland family safe. Thank you for your cooperation; we are calling on you for your understanding and support. This is a challenging time for all.
Pamela Y Watson
Chief Executive Officer
Dear Rimland Community,
As the weather gets warmer and restrictions begin to ease in Illinois, we at Rimland are grateful for everyone’s hard work that has kept us healthy so far. Now, individuals get to enjoy spending time in their backyards and taking car rides around town. Adapting to wearing masks has not been easy, but individuals are becoming much more comfortable with it. While life at Rimland certainly looks different these days, we have not stopped taking time to celebrate several birthdays and Memorial Day, quarantine style.
Our proactive COVID-19 testing strategy has mitigated risk very successfully. All Rimland homes received electrostatic disinfecting; this is an effective method to evenly and safely coat all surfaces of a home with disinfectant in order to provide a more thorough cleaning. We still maintain rigorous standards for daily professional cleanings and sanitizations. While routine dental services are still closed (though emergency dental work is accessible), psychiatric telehealth has been effective and annual medical appointments are beginning to open up. Our Health & Wellness Department and our Compliance Department have been working together to create protocols for easing visitation restrictions and guidelines, which will take effect shortly. These protocols are intended to facilitate enjoyable visits between loved ones while ensuring that we can keep everyone at Rimland protected from COVID-19 threats.
Looking forward, we will continue to proactively test clients and staff and are procuring in-home saliva and swab testing kits that will be accessible on an ongoing basis. We are also implementing a hierarchy of controls designed to mitigate risk, these include: social distancing, engineering controls (installing barriers, redesigning classrooms/washrooms and other high touch areas, etc.), installing ventilation systems in homes to increase air exchange, and increasing our stockpile of PPE. Though our Developmental Training Center will remain closed until further notice and guidance from the Department of Human Services, we are using this time to redesign the space so that we can reopen safely when we receive approval to do so.
We are also expanding our Health & Wellness Department to ensure there is one assigned Registered Nurse per home. It is one thing to design safety protocols that keep our community safe, but another thing entirely to have the right employees embracing and enforcing these safety measures. We have a major effort in place that focuses on staff hiring & retention, including an increased hourly rate. At a time when unemployment is skyrocketing, we are pleased to not only avoid layoffs, but actively hire and retain Registered Nurses and Direct Support Professionals.
Though restrictions are easing across Illinois and the rest of the country, we must remain vigilant with our safety processes to ensure our progress is not lost. This vigilance takes a serious toll on Rimland’s budget and we could not operate safely without the financial and in-kind support we receive from our greater community. We are so grateful to everyone who has donated thus far and hope we can count on your support going forward – we truly could not do this without you. We are looking forward to the day when we can all get together and celebrate again, but in the meantime, we wish you a healthy and safe summer. If you have any questions, please reach out to me directly.
Pamela Y. Watson
Dear Rimland Community,
As hospitals adapt to the influx of COVID-19 patients and associated health risks, they have developed policies intended to protect patients and care providers. One of the main policies hospitals have implemented is a “No Visitors” policy, in order to reduce the number of people entering/exiting a hospital, and therefore curb transmission of COVID-19. While this policy is well intentioned, and highly effective in many cases, it poses a unique challenge to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). People with IDD rely on their families and caretakers to communicate with hospital staff about topics such as consent, healthcare, treatment options, and more. The “No Visitor” policy prevents individuals with IDD from receiving the same level of care as an individual without IDD, and can result in dangerous outcomes for the patients. For this reason, Rimland signed the American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry (AADMD) petition that recommends hospitals provide reasonable accommodations, aligned with the Americans with Disabilities Act, for individuals who require support from their caretakers (family members, DSPs, etc.) to receive equitable care. More details on the petition can be found here, and we encourage the Rimland community to sign the petition which can be found here.
As for updates within the Rimland community, we have been working with the Smart911 program to better secure the safety of our individuals. The Smart911 program partners with local 911 centers to provide additional information on the individual in need. For example, if a DSP calls 911 for a medical emergency at one of our homes, a pre-filled profile on the individual in need is automatically provided to the 911 dispatcher. This enables them to coordinate with the emergency response provider for a better outcome because they have more detailed information on the individual in need. This program is currently available at many of our location and expanding. If you would like to learn more about how this program works, please click here.
Rimland’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has been highly effective so far and we could not do it without the dedication of our employees and greater community. Thank you for your continued support as we navigate this difficult time.
Dear Rimland Family,
As you may know by now, Governor Pritzker has extended the shelter-in-place order through May 30th. To date, we have not received an update from the Department of Human Services on when we are permitted to reopen our Day Programs, therefore we will continue to shelter in place until we receive further direction.
We are pleased to report that there are no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Rimland community. Around two weeks ago, we began COVID-19 testing for our employees and took on the financial responsibility for these tests. Since then, more testing options have become available; this has reduced the cost of the COVID-19 tests and allowed us to put more of those financial resources to other critical areas of our organization. Samina Rahim, Associate Executive Director, is in contact with the Evanston Department of Public Health and they have provided us with additional PPE equipment. She also discussed Rimland’s protocols and mitigation efforts with them, and received feedback that our policies are exactly what we should be doing to keep everyone safe. Please feel free to reach out to Samina if you have any additional questions at (708)912-3420.
Rimland recently purchased personal thermometers for each Direct Support Professional so that they can monitor their temperatures throughout their shift and document it in Therap, our secure electronic health records system. This provides us with real time data to monitor DSPs and support them. Rimland individuals continue to be monitored by licensed healthcare professionals. We are also in the process of teaching them to wear facial coverings and maintain physical distancing so they can be prepared when the shelter-in-place order is lifted. While this is inherently challenging to teach, our AEDS, DSPs, and program staff are seeing positive results and providing specialized attention to individuals who are struggling to adapt.
While it can be easier to want to stay inside when the weather is gloomy, we recognize that some individuals are getting frustrated being indoors. We are all hoping for warmer weather around the corner, so that we can spend more time in our backyards exercising and enjoying the sun. This will be beneficial for the physical and mental health of our clients and employees. We remain committed to providing a safe environment for everyone at Rimland and are doing our best to uplift everyone’s spirits. One way we are doing this is by providing pay and meal enhancements to employees while we have the financial means to do so. Please consider donating to Rimland so we can continue to provide these benefits during the pandemic.
Finally, we want to thank you for your patience during these extraordinarily difficult times. We understand how challenging it is to not be able to see your loved ones, and thank you for supporting our policies. Our thoughts are with you and we hope that the families of our extended Rimland community are in good health.
The Rimland Team
Dear Rimland Community,
As part of our commitment to transparency, we must inform you that one client and two employees have tested positive for COVID-19. These individuals were, and are currently, asymptomatic, and in isolation. They have our full support and we are providing them with resources to ensure a safe recovery. We understand that this news can cause panic, but we are here to tell you that we remain focused and calm. Our screening procedures caught this quickly and we have responded with swift action to reduce risk to the larger community. We stand behind our dedicated employees and are looking forward to the day they are cleared to return to work.
It seems like every day we receive new guidance from the CDC, federal government, state government, and local government on what we must do to stay safe during the pandemic. For example, only a few weeks ago we were told that wearing masks was unnecessary, but now we are required to wear them in public. Despite changing recommendations, we believe that the protocols we implemented early on have helped us to reduce the risk to our Rimland community, and we will continue these protocols for as long as necessary. These include twice daily temperature checks, oximeter checks (which monitor oxygen levels and heart rate), daily deep cleans, wearing masks, and increased personal hygiene practices.
We would also like to inform you of new measures we are taking. We have hired a laundry & linen service so that we can increase cleanings at each Rimland location. We have also begun paying for COVID-19 rapid testing of all Direct Support Professionals, Nurses, Associate Executive Directors, and anyone else within our community who needs it. To date, we have been able to test 25% of our employees. Unfortunately, access to testing is challenging due to limited test kit availability and increased demand. That said, this is a top priority for us and we continue to test as much as possible. Costs for this service will exceed $15,000; any contributions you can provide are tremendously helpful.
Although we are experiencing a global traumatic event, there is so much good work being done around the world and at Rimland. In particular, we would like to highlight the truly selfless work that our Direct Support Professionals, Health & Wellness Team Members, and Associate Executive Directors are doing. Their commitment to our clients is truly non-stop, whether it is round the clock onsite wellness checks or ensuring that homes are comfortable and sanitized. Our hard work is paying off, and we will soon be able to enjoy backyard exercise as the weather warms. Additionally, we are extending enhanced pay rates for our Direct Support Professionals and providing personalized meal services for them and their families to help ease their burdens while they work with our clients. It is important now more than ever to prioritize the physical and emotional wellbeing of our employees in order to provide long term support to our organization.
One particularly challenging aspect of coping with this pandemic is not knowing when it will end. It’s hard to say when we can return to “normal” and what that will look like. To that extent, we will continue our protocols and best practices until we are confident COVID-19 no longer poses a threat to our community. This includes telemedicine appointments, redesigning our DT center to promote physical distancing, employee health screenings, and wearing masks in public.
We are optimistic that one day there will be a vaccine, but until that time, we are adapting to the everchanging situation as a unified team. The best ways you can support our team is through moral and financial support to help us meet the needs of our clients and employees. We are grateful for anything you can provide and will continue to keep our heads up and focused on the future.
To Our Rimland Community –
Governor Pritzker recently announced that the Stay at Home order will be extended through at least April 30th. While we had hoped to resume regular operations sooner, we understand that this extension is for the safety and wellbeing of all Illinoisans. We also acknowledge how difficult this is for Rimland parents and guardians who are unable to visit their loved ones during this time. Although we hope that our updates provide comfort, we know it cannot make up for being able to be near the ones you love. Thank you for your continued understanding and commitment to helping us be as safe as possible during the pandemic.
Please be aware that we are in the process of developing a phased plan to resume standard operations once we are permitted to do so by the Department of Human Services. This includes setting up our Developmental Training Center in a way that promotes physical distancing, along with increased deep cleanings of the facility. As the new saying goes, “April Distance Brings May Existence”