Individuals Coping with Social Distancing

During this time of social distancing, we strive to maintain a sense of normalcy and routine for the individuals we support. Although visitation has been restricted and day programs and community outings remain suspended, managers, clinicians and frontline staff take great care to manage the situation creatively and foster a positive and engaging environment.  

To maintain contact with family and friends, the residents have the opportunity to communicate regularly through video chat using applications such as Zoom or FaceTime. Several families have done drive by visits where they can wave to each other and chat from a distance. In addition, some families have ordered takeout meals for the residents or provided them with home cooked meals, which they deliver to the doorstep. 

As the weather gets warmer, residents are turning to the outdoors for a source of leisure. Individuals have been eating their meals outdoors as often as possible and going for local walks. Gardening has been a popular activity at Gray, Lehr and Auerbach, as well as at Marcy, where the residents also painted birdhouses. At Florida Rd and East basketball has been a preferred outlet. At Auerbach, individuals had a video party on the lawn.

Some residences have gotten creative with in-house parties. At Rivera, the residents celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a delicious spread of food. At Grasso, dance competitions and costume parties keep things lively. Dance has also been a fun way to keep moving at Lehr and at West. Residents at Lissauer and Bernstein have turned to online exercise classes to stay active. Puzzles, baking and arts and crafts have been popular activities amongst many of the individuals, especially at Frankel. No matter where an individual’s interests lay, staff work hard to provide opportunities for them to enjoy themselves and feel a semblance of normalcy as we navigate this challenging time together.

UPDATE ON GARDENING!

Recently residents harvested kale and zucchini and soon tomatoes and peppers will be ready to incorporate into fresh, nutritious meals for the residences.

Liz Dama is making her famous pesto from the abundance of basil in the herb garden and soon there will be a kale cook-off.

To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog

Staff Accepts Donation from Assemblyman Kevin Byrne

left to right: Tom Brundage of Assemblyman Byrne’s office; Kristen Elkins, Chief Operations Officer; Brian Hulten, Chief Executive Officer; Lynda Guzman, Director of Clinical and Behavioral Services; Zuleika Liriano, Residence Program Coordinator; Peggy Ramsey, Director of Nursing

Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, who represents the 94th Assembly District, donated hand sanitizer to various organizations and businesses throughout the district. Opengate is pleased to be a recipient of a delivery which helps to replenish our supplies.

Assemblyman Byrne is the ranking member of the Assembly Health Committee.

The way that the community has come together during this challenging time is truly incredible, and we appreciate Assemblyman Byrne’s donation of hand sanitizer. When caring for individuals with developmental disabilities, close, hands-on contact is often necessary and the availability of hand sanitizer and adherence to good hand hygiene is critical for the safety of our staff and individuals.

Kristen Elkins, Chief Operating Officer

Opengate has been the beneficiary of the generosity from our community and our families during this crisis and we are extremely grateful for each donation. The health, safety, and welfare of our individuals and staff members is of the utmost importance and in the forefront of our responses.

Not knowing when COVID-19 precautionary measures will ease, Opengate has a continuing need for donations to maintain the vital supplies necessary to safeguard our individuals and staff members.

Thank you for your abundant support.

To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Blog

URGENT: Protect Our Funding!

Proposed OPWDD Cuts Will Be Devastating For NY’s Most Vulnerable

For over 50 years Opengate’s mission has been to provide a high quality of life to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Our programs have brought individuals out of the darkness of institutionalized care to a place where they may participate fully in the community and be involved in decisions regarding their health, well-being and happiness.

We must not take a step back!

Once again, we are facing proposed funding cuts under a State Plan Amendment and a 1915(c) waiver amendment proposed by DOH and OPWDD for the fiscal year 2021. Its passage will mean a loss of millions designated for the care of I/DD residents in New York.

Scores of legislators and advocates are demanding OPWDD reverse these cuts on the basis that it will financially threaten service providers already managing the repercussions of COVID-19. Furthermore, they point out that agencies are required to follow guidelines set forth by CDC and OPWDD, and are forced to purchase personal protection equipment, medical and sanitizing supplies at a premium price with no reimbursement.

(Scroll to the bottom to read official letters.)

Advocates emphasize the hardships created for essential front line and clinical staff members who care for our vulnerable individuals. Providers offering supplementary compensation to well-deserving staff are especially hard hit during a global pandemic when budgets and donations are already stretched thin. 

Opengate is vehemently opposed to OPWDD’s proposed cuts and we need you to be part of the solution. Please take the time to contact your legislators and let them know you stand against funding cuts that will possibly devastate the quality of care for I/DD individuals.

Go to this link and lend your voice in opposition of these measures to cut essential funding: https://www.cpstate.org/advocacy/

Read letters from NY Senator David Carlucci and Assembly Member Aileen Gunther:

To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog

Donors Step Up to Help During COVID-19

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic Opengate stretched our resources to cover the expense of personal protective equipment, medical and cleaning supplies. We put out the call for help, and it was swiftly answered.

To those from our community who stepped in to help us and provide vital items, we are extremely grateful and would like to recognize their generosity.

  • Penny Howell of Croton Couture Curtains donated 100 hand made cloth masks
  • Tammy from the Town of Somers donated hand sanitizer
  • Lucy of Westchester County Department of Emergency Services in Valhalla donated gowns, gloves, goggles, masks, and face shields
  • Ginny Vreeland, an Opengate parent and Board Member, organized a donation from PeaceWork at her church, Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church in Ridgefield, CT who provided hand made masks, hepa filters, wipes, gloves and lots of encouragement
  • Somers Mask Army –a group of Somers parents provided homemade masks
  • Peter DeLucia from Westchester County Department of Health in Mt. Kisco who provided guidance and encouragement 
  • Dr. Karen Gennaro, Opengate Medical Director, donated 565 N95 face masks.
  • Parents Mary Schaudel, Susan Deyo and Paulet White have been delivering complete meals for individuals and staff at various houses

Opengate would also like to thank donors who contributed with monetary support so we can offer incentives to the DSPs who work around the clock maintaining a sense of normalcy for our individuals and their families. Your gifts also make it possible to purchase games, crafts, sensory products and recreational items to engage individuals at home due to temporary suspension of day programs. 

Not knowing when COVID-19 precautionary measures will ease, Opengate has a continuing need for donations to maintain the vital supplies necessary to safeguard our individuals and staff members.

Thank you in advance for your generous support.

To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Blog

Frontline Staff Volunteer to Quarantine

When some of our individuals tested positive for COVID-19, a team of dedicated staff members stepped up and were willing to quarantine with them to provide around the clock care. These exceptional staff worked tirelessly to provide quality support for the individuals in their care while relinquishing weeks away from home and family. 

One of the first staff members to volunteer for quarantine was Axel Diaz. When the first instance of COVID-19 was suspected he escorted the individual for testing and kept them calm with his compassionate and uplifting disposition. Aldo Carbone was instrumental in developing a group for staff members with the purpose of uniting efforts to best serve the individuals. He kept spirits up with his sense of humor despite the extreme difficulties COVID-19 presented. Aldo always offers assistance when needed and has volunteered to quarantine three times. Sharon Oloo has also volunteered to quarantine on three different occasions. Her tenacity and work ethic are remarkable. She made sure all individuals got to testing sites, communicated with their families, and provided a positive attitude and comfort. When out of work, she remained in touch daily to check the progress of individuals. 

Arlene Benjamin, Janine Quinten and Petra Nathan ensured individuals were given quality care and followed the philosophy of “putting people first” by strongly advocating for them. Offering emotional support to peers and individuals, they promoted teamwork within the house. Satish Edwards and Lavendar Webster closely monitored those in isolation and maintained active communication with the medical team. In addition, they accompanied individuals to the hospital when needed. Valerie Watson prepared delicious meals that were enjoyed by everyone. 

Giovanni Suckoo, Stephanie Caverlini and Shannon Clarke worked as a team and performed their duties with positive attitudes and encouragement for all individuals and staff. Ashley Elliot was also a valued part of the team who offered to stay around the clock to assist with the individuals.

Leonard Rhoden, Janelle Roach, Stephanie Barnes, and Sandra Lewis approached senior staff about remaining in quarantine for the well-being of individuals. Advocating for the health and comfort of the individuals, they communicated important observations to the house nurse. Always well prepared, they implemented their duties with positivity and smiles.

Opengate is grateful for the way staff members have taken on extra responsibilities during this crisis and exhibited their dedication to individuals, their peers, and the agency. The hard work of all staff involved allowed us to make it through this extraordinary time while still providing the highest quality of care and support to the individuals. 

To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Blog
COVID-19 Updates
COVID Updates

Please click image for important information

For inspiring stories, announcements, and updates, subscribe to our monthly email newsletter here.
Sign Up Now

Donate to Opengate through AmazonSmile

Follow Opengate via Email

Enter your email address to follow our site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 257 other subscribers

Follow us on Twitter