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”
Dear Rimland Family & Friends,
As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we remain committed to the safety of our clients and staff through vigilant processes and communications. Our core focus is performing daily health screenings of individuals and employees; we are happy to report that at this time everyone is in good health and not displaying any COVID-19 symptoms. Deep-cleanings and sanitizations are conducted daily at all of our locations, per the Department of Human Services and CDC guidelines. In addition to this core focus, we are continuing in-home exercise programs to promote the physical and mental wellbeing of the individuals we support.
Now that we have adjusted to our new routines, we begin to look forward and plan for the continued safety of everyone at Rimland once the significant danger has passed. We thoroughly participate in social distancing practices and are doing our part for the greater community by staying home and staying active. Our policies will adapt to the ever-changing situation, and we will keep you informed of updates as they occur. We welcome any support you are able to provide during this time, whether financially or in-kind. We will get through this as a united organization and are looking forward to the day when we can all come together again and celebrate.
Dear Rimland Parents & Guardians,
We would like to provide you with an update regarding the steps we are taking to promote the emotional and physical well-being of Rimland individuals during the COVID-19 outbreak. We have scheduled daily exercise, to last at least 30 minutes per day, that includes activities such as:
- Backyard games (weather permitting)
- Cookouts (weather permitting)
- Dancing to streamed music concerts on Fridays
As Spring approaches and the weather gets warmer, we will work to include more outdoor types of activities such as gardening. We understand the importance of consistent exercise and have established this program to enable opportunities to get active while providing options to promote individual choice.
We are continuing to perform daily health screenings that include temperature checks and monitoring for flu-like symptoms. Those with medically complex health concerns are being monitored more closely by our RNs and AEDs who know them best. As always, we are grateful for your continued trust in our leadership.
A letter from the CEO:
Dear Rimland Friends, Family, and Stakeholders,
With each passing day, we adapt to the impact COVID-19 is having on our Rimland community and the world at large. It seems at times as if there is no end in sight, yet we must commit to pushing forward and maintaining our character even when it is the most challenging.
Our Direct Support Professionals have always been the heart of Rimland. Simply put, we cannot function without them. Due to the current circumstances, we have increased wages in order to provide round the clock care through April and beyond. In addition to requiring unique skillsets to support our individuals, this is a high-risk position that mandates the highest levels of professionalism and caution to keep us all safe. In addition to caring for Rimland individuals, many of our DSPs are also caring for their family members, including young children. This puts an additional burden on them, ranging from caring for grandparents to finding childcare while schools are closed. Though unexpected expenses can hit anyone hard, our DSPs are disproportionately impacted by COVID – 19.
For this reason, we are reaching out to you and asking for your financial support. Even a little bit goes a long way during times of need. This is an unprecedented situation Rimland is facing and your support is needed now more than ever. Payments can be made securely through our website, or mailed in by check. If you are unable to support us financially, please consider donating supplies such as personal protective equipment, toilet paper, soap, paper towels, and other household items.
On behalf of everyone at Rimland, thank you for your contributions and continued trust in us as we navigate this challenge.
Great news coming from Evanston Hospital! They have developed in-house testing for COVID – 19 that is able to test more people while providing same day results. This will help doctors make better decisions about which patients need to be isolated and which can be sent home. Read more about it here: https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2020/03/16/coronavirus-test-developed-and-available-at-evanston-hospital-with-results-in-just-hours/
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Rimland Stakeholders,
As an additional precaution, we are currently in the process of purchasing “no touch” thermometers in order to safely check temperatures for all Rimland individuals and employees. These thermometers do not require physical touch from person to person, as an added level of precaution. This protocol not only includes our Direct Support Professionals, but our Administrative team as well. Our Health & Wellness team will be performing daily temperature checks for everyone at Rimland. Anyone with a temperature above 100 degrees will be directed to the head of our Health & Wellness team for further evaluation.
Thank you for your continued support and trust in our organization.
Dear Parents, Guardians, and all Rimland Stakeholders,
Yesterday, we provided you with information on how Rimland is actively addressing the COVID – 19 pandemic. In an effort to remain transparent, we are providing you with an update today. All is well at Rimland and we are continuing to monitor the situation as it unfolds. The processes we have put into place, and CDC guidelines, are helping us mitigate risk and stay safe. These include the following:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or with alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with tissue, then discard tissue in the trash
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
We also learned yesterday that a citizen who attended the Unitarian Church tested positive for COVID – 19. While this is an inherent threat to the community, we can confirm that no Rimland individuals or clients were at this location. Social Distancing practices will remain in effect for all non-essential outings. This is not just for the protection of everyone at Rimland, but an effort to do our part for the larger community. Video conferencing can be made available for families wanting to communicate with their loved ones, please contact us to schedule a time. As of today, in Illinois there are 46 positive cases, 316 negative cases, and 82 pending cases. Our social distancing policy will remain in effect until we see a significant downward trend in positive and pending cases.
Rimland is supplied with household necessities at all of our locations. If you would like to contribute to helping us keep our locations stocked, you can donate items such as paper towels, toilet paper, soap, and personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.). If necessary, individuals will be quarantined based on a physician’s recommendation. This will be determined on a case by case basis, most likely in a hospital or medical facility. Our Health & Wellness Department will maintain communication with the parents & guardians of any affected individuals.
We will continue to provide updates as the situation progresses, and thank you for doing your part to reduce the spread of COVID – 19.
COVID – 19 Update 3.12.20
As news continues to spread regarding the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus, please be assured that the health and well-being of your loved one and their staff is Rimland’s top priority. The situation surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a rapidly emerging and fluid challenge. We are closely monitoring the latest developments and following the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
Rimland would like to make you aware of several precautions and preventative measures we are undertaking to ensure the health and safety of your loved ones while under Rimland’s care. We have added additional staff members to our cleaning team and have increased cleaning cycles of commonly touched surfaces (door handles, countertops, desks, etc.). Our transition zones such as waiting areas, hallways, medication pass zones, and the Health & Wellness department have been assigned a designated staff member to provide additional and rigorous disinfecting and sanitizing support. Rimland continues to use hospital- grade disinfectant. We have increased antibacterial hand sanitization stations and signage throughout the building. Rimland staff members are cleaning and disinfecting all Rimland ride vehicles to and from our facility. Visitors entering reception are screened for flu like symptoms and travel information before gaining access to our building or visiting with our clients. As an additional safeguard, Rimland has temporarily canceled all client outings, limiting your loved ones exposure to outside illnesses. We have also canceled any non-emergency dental and medical appointments until further notice. We will reschedule individual appointments as soon as it is advisable.
Our Health and Wellness department continues to monitor your loved ones health on a daily basis. On- the -spot wellness assessments are conducted each morning by our Health and Wellness team, which is headed by Barbara Cooper, RN and fully staffed by licensed RN’s, CNA’s and LPN’s. Any presentation of flu-like symptoms are immediately addressed, identified, and attended to. Family members will be notified immediately if any of your loved ones present with any flu-like symptoms. Symptomatic clients will be monitored at home under the direct care of their Direct Support Professional. To mitigate the risk of spreading any illness, clients will not return to the Developmental Training Center until cleared by our Health and Wellness team or their personal physician.
We are encouraging all staff to take common-sense health precautions recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While we appreciate the incredible dedication of our Direct Support Professionals, we are reminding them to please stay home if they are sick.
Rimland has instructed our staff to follow the below practices as to minimize the spread of any respiratory virus including COVID-19:
· Cover your cough or sneeze with tissue, then discard tissue in the trash
· Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or with alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Rimland will continue to closely monitor this situation in the days and weeks to come. We will continue to take guidance and follow recommended protocol from the CDC and IDPH to make sure we maintain a safe and healthy environment for your loved ones.
On January 6, Rimland received three minivans from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) resulting from our 2018 IDOT grant application. These are brand new 2019 Dodge minivans with superb safety features. Rimland has always been committed to getting involved in community events and these vans make that possible. The vans are used not only for driving from our residences across the region to our Developmental Training Center, but also to attend community events such as festivals, movie theaters, and trips to the beach.
Our Health and Wellness employee program has been going strong for five years and provided countless gym memberships and wellness incentives to our employees. After five years of partnership with LA Fitness, we are excited to announce a new partnership with XSport Fitness. Their locations are 24 hours, which help meet the needs of our employee schedules. Additionally, XSport Fitness allows employees to bring a guest with them each time, which makes working out all the more engaging. Locations have pools, free classes, and many more great amenities. We can’t wait to break a sweat!
Our very own client Sal has been working hard to support a program near and dear to him. In the summer of 2016, Sal spent an afternoon at Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois, where he had the chance to ride horseback, help around the barn, and learn a little more about horses. This day had such an impact on him that Sal started taking riding lessons and helping to take care of the horses on a regular basis. Fast forward several years later and Sal has become an important member of the Equestrian Connection community. In 2019, Sal saved all of his money from working at the barn to purchase 25 hay nets and 150 bales of hay for all the horses at the barn! Thank you so much Sal!
Dear Rimland Family and Friends,
I would like to kick off the new year by extending a heartfelt thank you to all of our stakeholders who have helped shape the support we provide to adults with classic autism. We remain committed to achieving ambitious goals in the year 2020.
The majority of adults supported by Rimland Services experience a higher severity of autism characteristics and are particularly vulnerable to a defined Quality of Life ((QoL). Our overriding objectives this year will be focused on increasing access to community-based living options and providing support to improve QoL.
We will address the following urgent priorities: improving healthcare, increasing awareness of how sensory input and social challenges will impact support across the lifespan, and integrating technology-assisted support with personal direct supports.
Even as we pursue these ambitious goals on behalf of the individuals we support, we are elevating the standard for evaluating successful outcomes. We will also partner with stakeholders to identify and develop long-term strategies for supporting the autism community in the future.
With intention and forethought, our team of professionals teach, advocate for, sustain, and are steadfast in their commitment to the individuals we support.
Once again, thank you for the vital role you play in our day-to-day services.
Best wishes for the New Year,
Pamela Y. Watson
Having a disabled child is not particularly rare: Fourteen percent of U.S. public school students in 2017-2018 received special education services. Yet our society rarely addresses disability as a real parenting possibility, which means non-disabled parents like me are usually in the dark about best practices for raising a child with a disability. This state of ignorance is unfair to everyone involved and has made countless kids and parents miserable.
It really doesn’t have to be this way, though. After my son was diagnosed as autistic when he was 3, we embarked through a long, painful learning process to get to a state of acceptance and (relative) peace. No one should have to repeat our steep learning curve, so I’m sharing what made all the difference for us: Discovering, and listening to the insights of autistic adults.
Parents need to hear from people who have lives similar to what our children will experience. These adults can warn us about avoidable mistakes, and they can counter our assumptions about what it means to live a good life — even when that life is complicated.
Greta Thunberg has recently drawn attention for being named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and she has openly talked about how her Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis makes her different, and how being different is a superpower.
In politics, Democratic candidate Joshua Collins is running for Congress and would be the first openly autistic member if elected.
With more people on the autism spectrum being open about their diagnoses, we talked to a researcher and an advocate about what should be part of the discussion around autism today.
We closed out 2019 in style, with a celebration of the end-of-year holidays and our annual Parent-Client Luncheon.
At the end of November, we had another fun celebration with our traditional Thanksgiving party. Each year, we cater all of our clients’ favorite Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and of course some apple pie for dessert! Staff pitched in to decorate our Developmental Training Center with streamers and posters, and it was so nice to see everyone get dressed up for this special meal. In the spirit of being thankful, we would like to recognize all of our hardworking employees who worked on Thanksgiving and spent time with their Rimland family. We couldn’t do this without you!
For the Parent-Client Luncheon on December 20, our headquarters was festively adorned with holiday lights and glittery ornaments decorated by our clients and hung brightly from the ceilings. The clients came sharply dressed in holiday attire and ready to celebrate in high fashion! Parent volunteer Mrs. Ann Moltz greeted our visitors at the door and showcased holiday candles and cards created with love by our clients. We were overwhelmed by the generous donations for these small offerings! The conference room was transformed into a winter wonderland complete with special “photo booth walls” for our clients and guests to create some great family memories. After a delicious lunch of mostaccioli, hot Italian beef, and salad (all served by our hardworking staff!), we enjoyed live music presented by Tom Sexton with special performances by some of our clients. Song and dance filled the room with good cheer and smiling faces. As the day wound down, we sampled homemade goodies and sweets before finally saying goodbye to our visitors. We are so thankful to be able to enjoy the holidays with our Rimland families and friends! Thank you to all who made this a fabulous day!
Last November, we raised $4,084 this year for Giving Tuesday, a new record! Giving Tuesday is a worldwide annual tradition where people donate to nonprofit organizations the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a way of pledging support to the causes that matter most to them. The funds contributed by donors will help us to provide top of the line support to the individuals we care for in 2020 and beyond. Still interested in contributing? Click the “donate” button in the top right corner of our home page to show your support!
We recently installed three SMART Boards at our Developmental Training Center. SMART Boards are state-of-the-art technology that combine visual displays with touch interaction, leading to an engaging educational experience for users. From the classroom to the boardroom, SMART Boards make learning interactive by being hands-on, flexible, and versatile.
They function as digital whiteboards but also have web browsing and apps. We are thrilled to add this exciting feature to our program suite as a new way for our clients to learn and engage with technology at their own pace and access content that is most interesting to them.