by: Julie Sjordal, CEO
As you may be aware, the coronavirus COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly. This past week, we implemented our Level I Response Plan while staying abreast of information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the MN Department of Health (MDH). Our decisions have been and will continue to be based on the counsel of these reputable sources.
Following are our responses to a number of frequently asked questions of our front desk and program staff:
1. Why isn’t St. David’s Center closing when social distancing is being recommended and so many events and gatherings are being cancelled?
The Minnesota Department of Health is not recommending that schools or child-serving organizations close at this point in time mostly because people under the age of 19 are at lower risk. We are also well aware of the unintended consequences of closing a school or an organization. Social distancing by cancelling events and gatherings slows the spread of the virus, which prevents our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.
2. Are we sending kids home with runny noses just because the CDC and MDH recommend people should stay home or be sent home when sick?
It is not uncommon to see children with runny noses (and no other symptoms) at St. David’s Center. We are not sending children or staff home without it being warranted. One of the ways to slow the spread of any virus is to stay home. In the case of COVID-19, if someone has a fever and upper respiratory flu-like symptoms, they should “self-quarantine” or stay home until symptoms, without medication, are gone. We ask that you continue to follow this guidance.
3. For children and families receiving therapy services, can we use telehealth models as needed/approved during this time?
For the past year, St. David’s Center has built the foundation necessary to pilot telehealth. Insurance companies have set up guidelines for when and how it can be used as a way to provide healthcare, and to date, unless a family has Medical Assistance, telehealth has not been an option for us. As I write this, we are in communication with payors, requesting a variance to current regulations so that we can move forward with a plan to offer telehealth if we are forced to close one or more of our sites for a period of time. We will provide more information to families eligible for telehealth as we get updates.
4. What is our policy around bringing children for programming/services after travel?
We are following the guidelines from the CDC on travel restrictions and ask any families that have traveled (or have a family member who has traveled) to the areas of the world where is “widespread and sustained community spread” of COVID-19 to stay home for 14 days upon returning to the United States. As of today, this includes China, Iran and Europe. As information from the CDC evolves, we will provide updated recommendations.
5. What if a child or parent we serve, a staff member, an intern or volunteer has been in close contact (within 6 feet for longer than 10 minutes) with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
If anyone involved in St. David’s Center in any way comes into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (as defined above), we will be asking the person to disclose this information and self-quarantine for 14 days upon notice of the direct exposure to the person who tested positive.
6. What are the next levels of our response plan and when will they be implemented?
Level I – Prevention and Risk Mitigation: We started implementing Level I strategies Monday, March 9, increasing frequency of hand washing and sanitizing across all sites and services, ordering ample supplies to align with increased use, and developing a tracking system was put in place to ensure compliance.
Level II – Advanced Precautions: As of this afternoon, March 13, we are implementing Level II Response Plan strategies, including:
· reducing or closing specific programs with elevated risk (e.g. our weekend Destination Anywhere Program for teens and adults with disabilities is closed for the month of March due to the community-based nature of where services are provided)
· reducing the number of toys and equipment in lobbies, classrooms and treatment rooms to minimize exposure
· requesting individuals inform us and stay home in the event they have traveled to a restricted area of the world or have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus
Level III – Minnesota Department of Health Determination: MDH has primary responsibility for the overall monitoring and management of COVID-19 for all residents in our state and, in the event there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at one of the St. David’s Center sites or client homes, MDH may determine that a site needs to be closed or access restricted in some way for a specified period of time.
Level IV – Governor-Directed Closure: MDH and Governor Walz may direct our city or state to close all schools and childcare organizations. If this is the direction, we will do so immediately upon notice.
Again, as you know, this is a very fluid situation. As new information emerges and/or as the level of our response needs to change, we will communicate with you. Please direct any questions or comments to Jayson Palm, Director of Facilities and Risk Management, at email@example.com.
With gratitude for your understanding and your partnership during this time,
The leadership and staff of St. David’s Center
Oct. 10, 2022
Mar. 16, 2022