While we were able to enjoy a certain measure of easing of restrictions and very low statewide infection rates through the summer and early fall, the Opengate team has been consistent in our approach that COVID is still a threat, and that we cannot let our guards down. We are committed to keeping each other and the individuals we support safe by adhering to the guidelines set forth by state and federal officials. Furthermore, we heeded the warnings of health officials that there would be a second wave in the fall, and have been busily preparing for such an occurrence.
Chief Operations Officer, Kristen Elkins, prepared a comprehensive Pandemic Response Manual, which addresses strategies to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus, as well as management and containment of suspected and confirmed cases. It covers topics in detail such as training standards, PPE usage, sanitation protocols, procedures for visitation, community outings, microcluster mitigation, and screening of staff, individuals and visitors, among many other points of safety planning. The manual is updated whenever there is a change in guidance, and the changes are communicated out to the team.
Opengate believes communication is critical to dispelling fear and rumors. Staff are encouraged to ask questions, seek guidance and report concerns to supervisors. We feel that by working together with a precise plan we will be able to reduce the risk of exposure to our individuals and staff. Key changes in procedures are communicated to families in writing, and there is an open line of communication on a day-to-day basis. The individuals we support receive plain language education on coronavirus and the importance of mask wearing, hand hygiene, and social distancing in order to empower them to take an active role in their health and safety, and ease any anxieties they may have about the protocols that have been put in place as a result of COVID-19.
We are grateful for the way staff, individuals and families have gracefully adapted to changes in procedures during this challenging time. Staff and managers have demonstrated creativity and commitment in the way that they have planned activities that keep the individuals engaged, happy and supported during this time while staying within social distancing guidelines.
We know that there are difficult times ahead, but we are confident that through our shared commitment, the Opengate family will weather this storm and make it through even stronger.