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COVID-19 Communication

To all Support, Inc. Staff, Providers and Families:

In this communication we will cover the following:

  1. National COVID-19 vaccine update.
  2. Local COVID-19 vaccine update including eligibility for individuals in services.
  3. Where to get the vaccine (employees, contractors, and individuals in services).
  4. What to expect when getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Reporting your COVID-19 vaccine participation and how we store these records.
  1. National COVID-19 vaccine update:

COVID-19 vaccine administration continues to increase across the United States where around 10% of American’s have received at least one dose of the vaccine. About 9.7% of Coloradoan’s have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. While the demand for the vaccine remains higher than the available supply, Colorado will begin receiving an additional 9,000 vaccines weekly starting this week to help meet the demand.

Additional vaccine candidates continue to go through clinical trials to seek emergency use authorization (EUA) through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Janssen Biotech Inc. has filed for emergency use authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine, an FDA advisory committee will review Janssen’s vaccine on February 26th.

2. Local COVID-19 vaccine update:

Colorado moved into Phase 1B.2 last week. This phase includes Coloradoan’s who are age 65-69, pre-K through 12 educators, childcare workers, and continuity of state government. IDT’s should continue to discuss individual’s preference regarding getting the COVID-19 vaccine and what support the individual needs to access the vaccine when it becomes available to them.  Individual’s receiving services should consult with their primary care physician regarding the vaccine and any medical questions they may have. After an individual in services receives their COVID-19 vaccine please send a copy/picture of the vaccine card to the Residential Program Coordinator.

3. Where to get the COVID-19 vaccine:

As Colorado continues to open additional phases of the COVID-19 vaccine plan, more vaccine options are also becoming available.

Individual’s in services who are eligible for the vaccine may go through their primary care physician or participating retail pharmacies across the state. To find out if your local retail pharmacy is offering the COVID-19 vaccine, follow these links; King Soopers, Wal-MartSam’s club, Walgreen’s and Safeway.

Employees and contractors of Support, Inc. are classified as Moderate-Risk Health Care workers and are also eligible for the vaccine now. Employees and contractors may also utilize any of the retail pharmacies listed above or their primary care physician. If you work out of our Aurora office, you can use this link for scheduling an appointment through the Tri-County Health Department. If you work out of our Loveland office or Colorado Springs office, please contact your Residential Program Coordinator or Supervisor for additional information on how to schedule your vaccine in that area.

We have applied to host a vaccine clinic at our Aurora office. Stay tuned for more information!

If you need any support or assistance scheduling a vaccine for yourself or an eligible individual you support, please reach out to your Residential Program Coordinator or Supervisor for assistance.

4. What to expect at your COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

5. Reporting your COVID-19 vaccine participation

For employees and contractors getting the COVID-19 vaccine, please send a copy of your vaccine card to hr.admin@supportinc.com. We are required to track participation and non-participation in the COVID-19 vaccine. Only our HR department will have access to your COVID-19 vaccine card. Vaccine participation and non-participation information will be used for internal and licensing reporting only.

Do you follow us on Facebook? We are running a social media campaign to #SupportTheShot and have joined Alliance Colorado’s campaign to #RollUpYourSleve and help Colorado conquer COVID. If you would like to be featured on our social media page email cathy.kellogg@supportinc.com with a picture and why getting the COVID-19 vaccine is important to you.

Be sure to never miss our correspondences, follow us on Facebook, be sure you are on email and newsletter distribution lists and check out website for on-going updates about COVID-19 and other happenings around the organization.

Thank you, Laura Viers

Town Hall

Support, Inc. February Town Hall

Support, Inc. will soon host it’s second Town Hall Meeting of 2021. Put on by our Associate Director of Quality Assurance, Laura Viers, and Director of Residential Services, Brian Farestad, these informative meetings provide the opportunity for constituents and providers alike to learn more about our recent COVID-19 updates and vaccine rollouts across the front range.

We want to thank everyone that joined our first Town Hall last month as we covered COVID-19 updates and details related to the vaccine. Many people asked good questions and this also gave us a chance to catch up over Zoom and to see how folks have been doing in recent weeks.

We’re hosting another Town Hall this month-for more information, please the flyer posted below. The purpose of these Town Halls is to make sure that you as providers and family members, are receiving good communication from Support, Inc., have the opportunity to connect with a larger group of people and are able to ask questions and give feedback that you may have. To RSVP, please contact Cathy at Cathy.Kellogg@supportinc.com and she will send you the Zoom link.

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Support, Inc.’s Position on the COVID-19 Vaccine

Position on the COVID-19 Vaccine

January 14, 2021

With the start of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution underway, Support, Inc. is encouraged that all of our stakeholders will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine in the near future. Some of our individuals in service that are over the age of 70 are already receiving their first dose of the vaccine. It is understandable that this process may take several months as there is limited access to the vaccine and some confusion around an individual’s eligibility.

As the vaccine becomes available, the following are some of Support, Inc.’s expectations for staff, contractors, families, and individuals in services:

• Receiving the vaccine is voluntary. Although this is the case, we strongly urge everyone to participate unless a health condition precludes you from taking the vaccine.

• If you do not receive a vaccination, this may limit your ability to work directly with some individuals in service. This will depend on the health characteristics of the individual and the setting where the service will be occurring. At a minimum, social distancing, wearing a mask, frequent hand washing, and other infection control procedures will need to continue.

• Participation or non-participation in the vaccine distribution process will be tracked. This is required by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), our licensing agency. The information will be held confidentially and used for health and safety considerations of our individuals in service along with aggregate reporting to CDPHE.

We are here to help you get vaccinated. Help is available for all employees, contractors, families, and individuals in services to get the vaccine. Please contact one of your team members if you need any assistance at all in getting the vaccine. If you have any questions at all, please talk to your supervisor or a team member for assistance.

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COVID-19 communication: Vaccine update #3

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.

Vaccine FAQ’s:

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.

Thank you,

Laura Viers

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COVID-19 Communication: Vaccine Updates

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 this point.

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

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COVID-19 Updates

Good morning,

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

– Cough

– Shortness of breath or difficulty berating

– Fatigue

– Muscle or body aches

– Headache

– New loss of taste or smell

– Sore throat

– Congestion or runny nose

– Nausea or vomiting

– Diarrhea

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.

-Laura Viers

Laura.Viers@supportinc.com

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COVID-19 Operating Protocol

Procedure for all employees and contractors

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 laura.viers@supportinc.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:

  1. Do you or anyone in your home have the presence of any of these flu-like symptoms?
    1. Fever or chills
    2. Cough
    3. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    4. Muscle or body aches
    5. New loss of taste or smell
    6. Sore throat
  2. 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?
  3. In the past 14 days, have you or anyone in the home traveled via airplane internationally or domestically?

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Knowing Your Risk During COVID-19

What to know before going out

  • The more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher risk of COVID-19 spread.
  • Keep these items with you when venturing out;
    • Cloth face covering
    • Tissues
    • Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Some people have the virus and don’t have any symptoms

Things to think about before going out

  • How many people will you interact with?
    • Interacting with more people raises your risk
    • Being in a group with people who aren’t social distancing or wearing cloth face coverings increase your risk.
  • Can you keep 6 feet of space between you and others?
    • The closer you are to other people who may be infected, the greater our risk of getting sick.
  • Will you be indoors or outdoors?
    • Indoor spaces have less ventilation and might be harder to keep people apart.
  • What’s the length of time that you will be interacting with people?
    • Spending more time with people who may be infected increases your risk of becoming infected.
    • Spending more time with people increases their risk of becoming infected if there is any chance that you may already be infect.

Consider before you go

  • Is COVID-19 spreading in my community?
  • What are the local orders in my community?
  • Will my activity put me in close contact with others?
  • Am I at risk for severe illness?
  • Do I live with someone who is at risk for severe illness?
  • Do I practice every day preventative actions?
  • Will I share any items, equipment or tools with other people?
  • Will I need to take public transportation to get to the activity?
  • Does my activity require travel to another community?
  • If I get sick with COVID-19, will I have to miss work?
  • Do I know what to do if I get sick?
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COVID-19 Updates

From CEO Bentley Smith:

Great job to everyone following the recommended infection control protocols by the Centers for Disease Control and local guidance published by the Colorado Department of Public Environment (CDPHE).  We have had some close calls, but no major known exposures or outbreaks. 

Looking forward to the upcoming summer season, and the lowering of restrictions in our communities, it is imperative that we continue to remain vigilant.  This means following the infection control standards, making informed decisions about activities you may be considering, and discussing your activities with your Support, Inc. team when needed.  The individuals that we serve are considered highly vulnerable to COVID-19, and therefore we all must diligently follow the guidance and limit everyone’s exposure to stop the spread.

You can visit Support, Inc.’s website for the latest news and information, or the CDPHE website for more COVID-19 related information.  Links are below:

Link to Support, Inc. Newsfeed

Link to CDPHE’s COVID-19 Website

We also have our updated screening questions to be used before entering client homes. We will use this same screening tool for visitors entering our offices. For any questions on the screening assessment, please contact Laura at Laura.Viers@supportinc.com