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Clinical and Day Services COVD-19 Updates

Hi Everyone!  Our Day and Clinical Services Team wanted to send out a quick message say thank you for allowing us to continue to serve you throughout the pandemic.  Although our operational capacity has been limited, we’ve been fortunate to have been able to support many people through both our Day Services (on-site, virtually and in-home) and our Clinical services (both virtually and limited in-person).  As you may have seen, Support, Inc. has updated operating protocols, following the most recent Colorado Public Health and Colorado Medicaid regulatory and licensing guidelines.  In accordance with that, we want to let everyone know that we are thoughtfully opening up our Day Services to greater capacities and options.

First, with increased capacity, we are able to offer additional spots to anyone interested in attending our site-based services at our Aurora location.  We understand that it can be an important decision to make, and encourage you to talk with any of our team members,  or your Residential Program Coordinator to have an IDT to discuss coming back.  If you’re interested, we would love to talk through our safety protocols, infection control measures, and fun things we have planned!

Second, with the warmer weather we will be planning, announcing and offering more outdoor events.  All our events will be announced via email or our website and will have an RSVP contact.  This will allow us to approach each event and each person who would like to attend individually to ensure an optimal experience for all involved.  Group sizes will be kept relatively small and appropriate for the activity and the location to allow for social distancing.  If you’re interested in any events we have to offer, please let us know via RSVP. 

Third, for those who are interested and more comfortable with 1:1 services with a Direct Support Professional, we would love to hear from you!  There are so many options of activities that our DSPs can support to help people get out of the being cooped up inside and experience the community once again. 

Some things that we have been doing won’t change.  You’ll still see our staff wearing masks and we will continue to encourage everyone to wear a mask or face covering, even though many of our staff are fully vaccinated.  We’ll still do symptom screenings prior to in-person contact and we will continue to be mindful of social distancing as we plan out activities. 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me, Gwen Bonilla, your RPC, or one of our staff directly. 

Curt Mower, MS, BCBA

Director of Clinical and Day Services

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COVID-19 Updates

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

Over the last 4 months, we’ve been talking a lot about the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are still looking for an appointment or have questions before making the decision to get the vaccine, please reach out to us, we are here to help. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) created the attached  guide illustrating how safe activities are if you have or have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.

As more Coloradoan’s are getting the vaccine and COVID-19 transmission across the state decreases counties are now able to determine their own level of ‘openness’.  Additionally, Colorado has lifted the state wide mask mandate in many settings. We have received updated guidance from HCPF (Health Care Policy and Financing) regarding our service delivery. As we receive new guidance, we continually review our COVID-19 operating protocol to ensure it still aligns with Federal, State, licensing and County guidance. We have updated our COVID-19 Operating Protocol for all employees and contractors. This protocol outlines how we will be operating our offices, day services, and in-person visits. Please take a moment to look over these changes. Please keep in mind that our protocols will be different than what is being communicated to the general public due to restrictions by our licensing agencies and the characteristics of the population that we serve.

In many cases, it’s been a full year of relying on virtual technology for home visits and other in-person services. We are excited to start getting back to in-person visits including in-person monitoring and expanded in-person day program services. Over the next month, your Residential Program Coordinator will be reaching out to schedule a monitoring visit in your home. We’ve created a ‘what to expect during in-person visits’ document which is also attached to this email.  Also, if you and your individual in services is interested in participating more with in-person day program or other services, please discuss this with your Residential Program Coordinator or a member of the Day Services team.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself, your supervisor or your Residential Program Coordinator.

Thank you, Laura Viers
Associate Director of Quality Assurance Laura.Viers@supportinc.com

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COVID-19 Updates

April 2, 2021

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

In this communication we will cover the following:

  1. Colorado COVID-19 vaccine update and where to get a COVID-19 vaccine
  2. Support, Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic
  3. Looking ahead
  1. Colorado Vaccine Update

Beginning today, Friday April 2nd, 2021 Phase 2 of Colorado’s distribution plan opens. In this Phase, anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  Colorado expects anyone who wants the vaccine should be able to get the vaccine within the next 2 months, this may change however based on vaccine supply and the increased demand.

There are many options to schedule a vaccine appointment across the state. Click on any of the locations listed below to be directed to the sites appointment registration system.

    • Vaccine Spotter is a tool to help you find COVID-19 vaccine appointment openings at Colorado Pharmacies. The website is updated every minute. 

We are here to help you access the vaccine! Please reach out to your supervisor or Residential Program Coordinator for assistance finding a vaccine appointment.

2. Support, Inc.’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic

On Wednesday March 17th we hosted a first dose COVID-19 vaccine clinic at our Aurora office. With the support of CDPHE’s (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) Vaccine Support Team we were able to administer 165 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to our individual’s receiving services, employee and contractors.

Hosting this clinic was important to our organization. This is a big step in supporting all our employees, contractors and individuals receiving services to get access to this critical vaccine. Navigating community-based vaccine clinics can be frustrating and time consuming. Hosting this clinic allowed us a simple avenue for our constituents to access the vaccine. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have often been overlooked in both National and State pandemic response. This population also faces challenges in accessing quality medical care in the community. By hosting this clinic, we were able to offer our constituents access to the COVID-19 vaccine at a familiar location, with support staff around they recognize and know by name and most of all we were able to administer the vaccine in a flexible and safe environment that allowed us to support each person and family’s unique needs.

If you attended the clinic, your Residential Program Coordinator or Supervisor will assist you to schedule your second dose appointment.

3. Looking Ahead

We continue to work under our current COVID-19 operating protocol including limiting in-person visits to homes, limited office use by appointment only and limited on-site day services. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should continue to follow all infection control practices including social distancing, washing your hands frequently and wearing a mask when in public or having contact with people who don’t live with you.  

There continues to be on-going research into the COVID-19 vaccine. We know the vaccine is highly effective at protecting the recipient from getting COVID-19 and will also protect you from getting seriously ill if you do contract the virus. We do not know yet how well the vaccine prevents you from spreading the virus to others. We are also still learning how effective the vaccines are against new variants that cause COVID-19.

As vaccination rates increase, research data is released, and we get additional guidance from the CDC (Center’s for Disease Control) and CDPHE’s (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) we will update our operating protocol and communicate any changes to you.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself, your supervisor or Residential Program Coordinator.  

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.

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Support, Inc. to Host a Vaccine Clinic

Support, Inc. is preparing to host it’s first vaccination clinic on March 17th from 10:00a.m.-4:00 p.m. The clinic is hosted in partnership with CDPHE and is offered to clients, staff, providers, and family caregivers who meet the criteria based on the phase we are in. For more information, please see the flyer below, or contact your RPC or supervisor to get signed up as quickly as possible.

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A Glimpse into the Vaccination Process

Support, Inc. is offering insight into the vaccination process as documented by our Director of People Operations. Read below to learn more about the vaccination process from Nick’s perspective as he received his first dose in the Denver Metro Area.

Hello All,

I am Nicholas Manning, the Director of People Operations at Support, Inc. I currently oversee our Human Resources Department, and have been with Support, Inc. since May of 2015. If you know me, you most likely have met me in my former role as an Associate Director in the Denver/Metro Area.

I would like to share my experience getting the COVID-19 vaccine with all of you. Now, you may or may not assume that this choice was easy for me, it was not.

I am a person of color and identify as a member of the Black community. I have always had concerns about vaccines due to generational trauma and a general desire to not go to the doctor for anything other than a medical emergency. From the infamous Tuskegee Experiment to the misrepresentation of the voices of POC on medical boards, etc., feeling comfortable being on the front line of receiving medical treatment is not something I feel terribly comfortable with.

However, I found it important for me to receive this vaccination , like no other time before.

Here is a bit about my journey.

The reasons:

Black, Hispanic, and Native American people are about 4 times more likely to be hospitalized and nearly 3 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than white people. Yet African Americans have nearly the lowest rates of vaccination among any ethnic group. In fact, white Americans are being vaccinated at a rate 3 times higher than Black Americans. New CDC figures show that of those who have received at least the first dose of a vaccine, 5.4% are Black people, compared to 60% who are white people. According to recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, about 35% of Black Americans said they don’t plan to get the vaccine, citing fears about safety and concerns that the vaccines.

As I have stated, these concerns are rooted in distrust over time and I hope that my story can help provide insight on the vaccine from someone you can connect with personally, not simply a stat on a website. Additionally, I felt that being a person from my community who decided to receive the vaccine, I could share my experiences with others in hopes of supporting others regardless of whether or not they decided to also.

How:

First, I utilized a link connecting me to Tri-County for an appointment. Now, this process has been frustrating, and many of us can understand how and why. There are a lot of people wanting it (about 80% of the adult population) and the system itself has not caught up to the demand. However, after some time and support I was able to access to an appointment. However, things came up, as they do with most of us so I had to change it. I was scared, and hoped that I would not lose the opportunity. I was successfully able to move my appointment to Wednesday 17th, 2021.

I was sent an email with clear directions. I was instructed to sit in my car and await a phone call before entering the Tri-County East Aurora location.

I received the call and was instructed to head inside. I was a bit nervous and also excited. I am hopeful this will protect me, the people I care for both at home and our Support, Inc. Community.

I headed in with my official leader from our CEO Bentley Smith, that is available to us.

I got to the doors and moved through the secure building. People inside were respectful as I checked in.

As I awaited for my appointment, I filled out a single page document. Questions we are used to as of now. Have I been exposed to COVID-19? Have I traveled outside of the United States in the last 14 days? Etc. I gave the desk clerk my paper and sat down. Within minutes I was asked to come back.

Alecia, a data collector and registered nurse was my Shot Giver for the day. Alecia sat me down and reviewed my form with me. She asked me about my experiences and educated me on how my answers mattered. She also provided me the attached PDF. She was transparent and discussed that the CDC wants to help us stay healthy as well as gain important information from us individual to track the success of the vaccine. She offered to answer any questions I had before she even prepared the shot. She stated that she wanted to make sure I felt comfortable with the information before moving forward. Alecia shared information about the trend of data to how effective I can expect the vaccine to be. Though early signs suggest the vaccine is effective, I was still encouraged to wear a mask following my second dose to ensure the safety of our community. She informed me that I was to remain in the waiting room for 15 minutes to ensure I do not have an allergic reaction. She also explained I would most likely feel some ache in my arm and the best way to ensure it was minimal was to use it and frequently. She informed me that Tylenol and Ibuprofen were fine to use even though some social media reports said otherwise.

She prepared my arm and I received the shot. It felt the same as most shots, no real pain outside of the assumed pinch. (I was not allowed to record the actual shot, I tried). I received my vaccine dose, thanked her for her time and headed to the waiting room. I waited 15 minutes and did not feel adverse effects so I stood up, got a drink from the vending machine and went home.

My arm ached about 48 hours after with some slight swelling (thought it was my muscles, but nope… just swelling). It has subsided in day 3. I have had no illness reactions as of now. No fever, no cough, no headache.

My experience may be unique. I also believe that many of us read so much on the internet that may influence us to be more or less willing to move forward and having a person who they can interact with share their experience may be more meaningful. I also understand that my privilege of not have any health risks, nor planning on being pregnant/breast feeding, is a benefit I have that many who may read this do not.

Currently, data does not show adverse risk to those who are pregnant or have moderate health risks as the information is still very new, but also remains positive to date.

If you have any personal or general questions about my experiences, please reach out to me directly at Nicholas.Manning@supportinc.com. I do not mind talking with you personally.

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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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Additional Vaccine Communication

The following information was produced by our Associate Director of Quality Assurance, Laura Viers, on February 3rd, 2021:

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

Colorado continues to review and update the State’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. On the updated plan below, highlighted in green are the groups the state is currently offering the vaccine to, this is people in Phase 1A and Phase 1B.1. The biggest change to the updated plan includes splitting Phase 1B into additional categories. This includes moving Coloradoan’s who are age 65-69 up in eligibility to Phase 1B.2, this will be the next group of people to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Governor Polis announced the Sate expects to move into Phase 1B.2 on February 8th.

Group 1B.3 includes Coloradoan’s age 16-64 who have two or more high risk conditions. Many individuals in services may be eligible in this phase of the vaccine.  The state has defined these high risk categories to include; Coloradoan’s with cancer (defined as a patient currently receiving treatment or having received treatment within the last month for cancer), chronic kidney disease, COPD, diabetes mellitus, Down Syndrome, specific heart conditions (heart failure, cardiomyopathies, or coronary heart disease, and severe valvular/congenital heart disease), obesity ((BMI ≥ 30kg/m^2), pregnancy, sickle cell disease, solid organ transplant and people with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks.

Now is the time to discuss with the individual(s) you support what their desire is for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Having these conversations now will ensure the individual’s team understands the person’s wishes regarding the vaccine as well as any supports that may be needed once the individual is eligible. Having a plan now is crucial to ensure individuals can get the supports needed to access the vaccine when they become eligible.

There is a lot happening with seemingly constant changes regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. While employees and contractors of Support, Inc. are eligible in Phase 1B.1 vaccine availability across the state varies and there is a larger demand for the vaccine than there is supply to meet that demand. Each county health department has a different process for connecting eligible Coloradoans with a vaccine provider. Some counties have been slower to get appointments set up or respond to our requests for large scale clinics for our employees and contractors. The slow speed to get a vaccine appointment is frustrating but hang in there. We remain committed to breaking through any barriers to help support you in getting the vaccine.

The question often comes up about how we can get individual’s in services scheduled to receive their vaccine. At this time individual’s with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities do not have their own unique group on Colorado’s Phased distribution plan. Individual’s receiving services will be eligible for the vaccine based on the individual diagnosis and age. We are also not able to set up clinics to administer the vaccine to individual’s in services. As Colorado continues to increase vaccine supply and subsequent phases become eligible, we hope to see more vaccine options for all constituents of Support, Inc. We will continue to monitor these develops and ensure we provide updates on a regular basis.

Please reach out to your team or me with any questions or concerns.

Laura Viers,

Associate Director of Quality Assurance

Laura.Viers@supportinc.com

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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