Thanking Our Heroes During COVID-19

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Everyone is asking, “How long can this go on?” At this time, we still do not know when social isolation and quarantines will end. But, we are making the best of the situation and one of the positive things we can do is continually find ways to show our appreciation for Opengate’s Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who work heroically so our individuals have the least amount of disruption in their lives.

On April 22 a team of masked administrative staff members drove to each of our residences with their cars decorated to personally thank our DSPs and to recognize their extraordinary efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Keeping the mood lighthearted, Kristen Elkins and Zuleika Liriano dressed as dinosaurs to give everyone something to laugh about during this stressful time. It was delightful to see the smiles behind the masks!

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Signs were created with thanks and quotes acknowledging the staff at each home and to let them know we couldn’t get through this without them. Staff members planted the signs and passed out goodie bags as a daily reminder that they are true heroes.

The employee appreciation tour was a team effort between residential, training, compliance and maintenance staff. June Jarvis, Vikki Nassetta, Jonathan Schultz, Monica Healey, Zuleika Liriano, Terrance Harris, Africa Staples, Peter Ferdico, Pete Zamlowski and Gerri Murtha were all involved in some aspect of the day, whether it was the planning or driving the tour itself.

Opengate recognizes that many of our employees are struggling with their own personal difficulties during this unexpected crisis, and yet, they are dedicated to ensuring our individuals are safe and well supported. We are grateful for all who have stepped up with donations to assist us in purchasing personal protective equipment, games and recreational items, along with funding incentives for our hard working DSPs.

If you are able to help, here is information about how you can show gratitude for their continued dedication to the individuals we serve.

https://opengateinc.org/2020/04/02/reward-our-dsps-can-you-help/


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.

 

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A Message From CEO Brian Hulten

As we all look forward to returning to our normal operations and having COVID-19 behind us, CEO Brian Hulten addresses the Opengate family of residents and staff with appreciation.


 

Many of the DSPs we employ are facing their own personal crises of isolation or quarantine, children home from school, or the need to care for family members, which worsens the staff shortage already experienced by agencies nationwide.

There is no option for them to work from home.

If you would like to assist us in offering incentives, here is information about how you can help us show our gratitude for their continued dedication to the individuals we serve.

Reward Our DSPs, Can You Help?

 

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.

 

 

 

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Reward Our DSPs, Can You Help?

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The country, and the world at large, are in the midst of an unexpected crisis we have not experienced in generations. Healthcare workers and first responders are on the front lines in keeping us safe. Here at Opengate, this is exemplified by the dedicated work of our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). DSPs are working in residential settings around the clock and playing a vital role in ensuring that the individuals are safe and well supported.

Opengate is committed to recognizing and rewarding our heroes, but we need YOUR help.

Many of the DSPs we employ are facing their own personal crises of isolation or quarantine, children home from school, or the need to care for family members, which worsens the staff shortage already experienced by agencies nationwide.

There is no option for them to work from home.

Our immediate needs:

  • Incentive compensation for DSPs. Since this crisis began we have been forced to use overtime to staff the residences leading to increased payroll expenses. Our DSPs deserve extra compensation for their dedication.
  • Personal protective equipment for individuals and staff. We purchased gloves, masks, thermometers, medical and cleaning supplies at inflated prices, unexpectedly increasing our operating budget.
  • Games, crafts, sensory products and recreational items to engage individuals at home due to closing of day programs. Opengate staff continues to work with individuals with the least amount of disruption possible.

How can you help us?

  • Opengate accepts donations of any amount to contribute towards funding DSP incentives as well as offset our unpredicted expenses. If you are able to donate, you may securely do so through PayPal, or you may donate by mail. 
  • Share our request among your social media circles, encourage friends and family to give if they can, as well as educate them about the impact their gifts will make for the individuals at Opengate.
  • If you are aware of individuals, companies or corporations that would like to involve themselves in contributing, or matching donations, please contact Kristen Elkins, Chief Operations Officer at kristene@opengateinc.org

Please accept our sincere gratitude in advance for your devotion to helping us achieve our objectives, offset our expenses, and assist us in safeguarding our individuals and staff members until this crisis passes. Opengate joins you in anticipation of resuming our regular operations as soon as the situation improves. Until then, stay safe and healthy.

To make a secure donation using PayPal, click on the button below. You do not have to have a PayPal account to make a donation.

If you prefer to send a contribution by mail:

Opengate, Inc.

P.O. Box 419

357 Main Street

Armonk, NY 10504

 

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Residence Manager Wilma Joseph in the Spotlight!

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“I’m just doing my job.” says Wilma Joseph, but according to those who work with her, she exemplifies what it means to go the extra mile.

Wilma has been employed as a Residence Manager with Opengate for the last 5 years. Although she left for a couple months, she returned to the position in June, 2018. Currently, she supervises the Grasso House and the Lissauer IRA.

Her colleagues describe Wilma as someone who gets her work done, on time or prior to deadlines, leaving nothing to error.  Recently, a new documentation system, Precision Care, was introduced to streamline entering information on a daily basis. Wilma’s programs were ready for the change and became the first to be able to bill successfully. She says the new system is an improvement, making daily entries easier and catching errors early. 

Mentoring others is reported as one of Wilma’s strong points. When asked about her mentoring process she relates that she uses her experience in regulations and procedures to support new hires and other staff. She is always open to answer questions and offer advice when needed.

She is passionate about her position for good reason, Wilma has a sister with special needs, which makes her job a personal quest to be sure individuals are well cared for, happy, and an active part of the community. She strives to accomplish this every day as she would for her own sister. Her individuals have a direct line of communication to her at all times.

Wilma’s proudest moment was when one of the individuals obtained a job with a local grocery store. She was also instrumental in assisting one of her individuals to cope with the loss of her mother by showing compassion and being there to help channel her grief. She says her greatest rewards are a sense of personal fulfillment knowing she makes a difference in the lives of the individuals in her care. 

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.

 

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COVID-19:  We Are Prepared

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By now all Americans are experiencing a disruption in their lifestyle due to the spread of COVID-19 and making necessary modifications to their daily lives. The health, safety, and welfare of Opengate’s individuals and staff members is of the utmost importance and in the forefront of our responses during this global crisis.

No matter what the circumstances, Opengate has a comprehensive plan which covers details for any type of disaster. We review procedures for sheltering, supply lists, notifications and responses as well as reinforce staff training on all aspects for this specific situation.

From the first indications of COVID-19 in our area, Opengate upgraded our routine virus/flu prevention measures by adding further recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as OPWDD guidelines, which we monitor and comply with on a daily basis.

Recently, Opengate had a visit from Westchester County Department of Health representatives who conducted a walk through of our Somers campus. Along with our Director of Residential and Director of Nursing, they reviewed our procedures and reported they were very impressed with the added precautions we are practicing.

Although our day services are temporarily suspended, our staff will continue to work with individuals with the least amount of disruption possible. For those individuals in a family home, action plans are provided and families are encouraged to maintain work on valued outcomes until we resume normal operations.

We are aware that social distancing is crucial to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and presents a challenge in communication. Thankfully, we live in an age of technology that allows residents and loved ones to stay in touch through phone calls, emails, and video chat. We encourage as much communication as possible through these methods for peace of mind until personal visitation is once more allowed.

We recognize that these changes can be difficult, and look forward to resuming our usual operations as soon as the situation allows. We would like to thank you for your assistance and understanding during these unprecedented times.

-Kristen Elkins, Chief Operating Officer

Opengate staff members have been exemplary in supporting efforts to best care for each of our individuals during this crisis. Everyone stretched beyond expectations to ensure responses are carried out safely and in a timely manner. Opengate Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are essential employees, our lifeline, and deserve our complete gratitude and appreciation.

As we experience the hardships caused by COVID-19, we must look to safe, simple pleasures for self-nurturing. Spending time in nature, regular exercise, meditation, reading, or sitting outdoors when possible will enhance our ability to face the disruptions to our daily lives with positivity. 

Opengate joins the world in hope and anticipation that this crisis will pass quickly.

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.

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