COVID-19 Update 5.29.20
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