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 we come to the end of 2020, we continue to see progress on the COVID-19 vaccine. The Moderna vaccine received FDA approval for emergency use at the end of last week. The first Moderna vaccines arrived in Colorado on Monday and was distributed to 35 facilities. Colorado is working through Phase 1 of vaccine distribution plan. Phase 1 includes vaccinations for health-care workers and staff at long-term care facilities who have regular exposure to COVID-19. At this time, we have not received any additional guidance regarding when constituents of Support, Inc. may receive the vaccine however, we believe we may be eligible in Phase 2 of Colorado’s distribution plan below. As we receive additional guidance, we will pass this along through email, Facebook and will post the information on our website.
Q: How does the COVID-19 mRNA
A: The COVID-19
mRNA vaccine gives instructions to cells to make what is called “spike
protein”. The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes
COVID-19. The vaccine is given in the muscle of the upper arm. Once the
instructions (mRNA) are inside the immune cells, the cells use them to make the
protein piece is made, the cells break down the instructions and get rid of
them. Next, the cell displays the protein on its surface. Our bodies recognize
that the protein does not belong there and builds an immune response and makes
antibodies. At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect
against future infection. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is
that those who get the vaccine are protected without having to risk serious
consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.
Q: How long will the vaccine
A: The duration
of protection is currently unknown. Continued research will be done to
determine the frequency the vaccine may need to be readministered.
Q: Will either vaccine give me
A: No. Neither vaccine contain SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and the vaccine cannot give you COVID-19.
Q: What are the differences and similarities between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?
As we are coming to the end of 2020, we have hope for 2021 as Colorado begins the implementation of the long awaited COVID-19 vaccine plan. During this holiday season, it is important we all continue to follow infection control practices and limit our contact with people who do not live with us. Limiting our contact does not mean we have to forego seeing friends and family. Zoom is offering free video calls with no time limits. This is a great opportunity to connect with friends and family outside your home. Zoom has removed the 40-minute time limit from 8:00 AM MT on Wednesday December 30th through 4:00 AM MT on Saturday January 2nd.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Laura 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 list and check out website for on-going updated about COVID-19 and other happenings around the organization. Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday season.-Laura
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
What: Pop Culture Group is an opportunity for
clients to come together and connect over their common interests and explore
new ideas at the same time. Come for an opportunity to express your human
rights. We will learn about government, civic engagement, and how to
participate. Why is everyone talking about registering to vote?! Let’s find
out! Pop Culture Group is open to all.
What: Join us for an evening of friendship,
discussion, and learning! These interactive groups will focus on developing
skills and confidence for social situations in a way that is fun and
informative! It’s time for another Spooktacular cooking tutorial! Join us as we
make all sorts of creepy crawly snacks like ghosts and spiders. This is a great
way to kick off the fall season! A list of suggestions is attached to this email. LIFE
Club is open to all.
What: We will join together to discuss life’s
stressors while improving the physical health of our bodies to create a healthy
lifestyle by learning helpful social and exercise habits. Thisgroupwill
incorporate a different movement activity every session. This week is all about
disco! Learn how funky dance moves can be a fun form of exercise. This is a
great opportunity to be active during a virtual time. Adaptable for all
abilities! Moving and Grooving is open to all.
What: Touching Stories is a unique therapy
model, specifically designed for people with intellectual and developmental
disabilities, that pairs the social and emotional learning of story with
sensory integration activities in a way that is educational, engaging, and
simply, a lot of fun! We have adapted our Touching Stories for at home use.
Gwen and Meredith will first lead participants in a scavenger hunt for the
sensory items needed for the stories (all items are common items found in every
home) and then will tell the sensory-based stories to the group. Please see the
attached list for scavenger hunt items. If you are curious to learn more,
please watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcjzvevJ9_w&t=67s.
Touching Stories is open to all.
What: Pop Culture Group is an opportunity
for clients to come together and connect over their common interests and
explore new ideas at the same time. Join us as we talk about ghost stories,
Halloween, and about how other cultures celebrate this time of year. This is
what we have all been waiting for! Bring your talents, enthusiasm, and support
for our friends as we show off our talents and talk about our favorite hobbies.
Make sure to invite everyone in your house to show off your new skills in
performance! Pop Culture Group is open to all.
The Support, Inc. STAR Committee gathered recently to brainstorm new ideas for a self-care series for employees. The group cleverly named this initiative Fall Into Care and hosted it’s first session yesterday. This three-part series aims to discuss self-care management during a pandemic with different themes for each event. For the second session, the Committee will host a media swap and the third meeting in November will cover winter blues prevention tactics.
From trying new recipes to visiting the Wild Animal Sanctuary, the group covered a range of topics and ideas for remaining upbeat. This outlet also provided an opportunity to vent about the year without judgement. And while it’s great to stay productive, the group agreed that downtime is important, as well. Brene Brown discusses overperforming in her podcast, and a nod to this episode reminded the group that it’s okay to take a break and just chill.
The STAR Committee serves employees of Support with three objectives in mind: Fostering a positive work culture, promoting employee appreciation and encouraging self-care. The Committee understands what a challenging year this has been and will continue to promote internal opportunities for connection within the organization. In addition, further considerations to explore and strengthen relationships amongst host home providers and their teams will be explored, as well. For clients to connect with their peers, please see our weekly LIFE Club updates on the blog for more information.
Sometimes it’s hard to manage self-care when a pandemic requires us to isolate and maintain social distance. But this doesn’t mean there’s not other ways to connect with people. And this certainly doesn’t mean we can’t still find joy in our everyday lives.
The STAR Committee created a flyer to share with employees and members of the agency. Feel free to share your ideas below-we would love to learn more ideas for self-care in 2020!
The Arc has released a list of COVID-19 resources to share for people with disabilities, their families, and the workforce that supports them. As we know, COVID-19 and other public health crisis disproportionately affect people with disabilities. Luckily, the Arc has taken action steps to close the gap on these inequities.
In addition to their advocacy work on the hill for essential workers, the Arc has produced several Plain Language documents to explain the pandemic in basic terms. The Arc is also hosting a Town Hall online on October 7th to discuss their response to COVID-19 and future plans.
For more information, refer to this link. And for more information regarding the Arc of Colorado, refer to their website. Here, you will find specific information such as where to find testing, and guidance on returning to day program and school. The Arc of Colorado also relays several resources for rent and food assistance and links to HCPF updates.
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?