Dear Parent/Legal Guardian/ Treatment Ally:
We hope this letter finds you and your family well. In consultation with our Medical Services Team, I would like to again update you on the current status of Covid-19 in our facility.
The United States now has over 4.2 million people who are known to have been infected with Covid-19 and experts are saying that number is actually likely to be 5 to 10 times higher. However, many people infected were asymptomatic and, as a result, simply haven’t been tested. We are now seeing a lag time of 10-14 days to get test results back. As Covid-19 continues to surge all across the country and here in South Carolina, I’m very happy to report that things have been relatively quiet at New Hope Carolinas.
Since my last letter, we have noted a leveling off in the number of employee reports of being ill or being directly exposed to someone with Covid-19 symptoms. As of today, we are now tracking 2 employees who are out with Covid-19 symptoms or due to direct exposure to someone with the virus. We began tracking our employees for Covid-19 in March 2020. Out of over 400 employees, we have had a total of nine confirmed cases of Covid-19. That number hasn’t changed since my last correspondence. Our team of professionals who are tracking employees will continue the entry screening and other robust processes in place designed to track and monitor our employees and ensure anyone suspected of Covid-19 is medically cleared prior to returning to work.
On July 15, 2020 we released the last two youth we had in quarantine as known positive cases. We tested all 15 of the designated quarantine staff and 100% returned negative for Covid-19. On Monday, July 27, 2020 we lifted the Transformations 1 program quarantine and admission freeze. That program was placed on an admission freeze and total unit quarantine on July 3, 2020, based on a suspected case. Test results were all negative. We currently have zero residents on quarantine status due to positive tests results or suspected of having Covid-19.
While it is great to experience a lull in actual cases, we recognize that this is a long-term battle, and we know that we will continue to be challenged by community spread infecting our employees, who, in turn, unknowingly bring it into our resident population because they are not experiencing any symptoms. Rest assured we are fully prepared to manage these “flare ups or influxes” over the next year or so until we get a vaccine. We continue to fine tune our system that cohorts residents and staff more consistently, as part of our overall targeted approach to testing and isolating. Unfortunately, the recent lags we have seen in our test result turnaround times create further delays in our ability to respond and isolate those we need to.
Despite these challenges, we remain vigilant in all of our infection control, mitigation and containment procedures designed to prevent and slow the spread of Covid-19. We are continuing to monitor all residents daily for symptoms. We are also continuing to quarantine and monitor symptoms of any new admissions or current residents who are away from our building for any reason, as a precaution, and once we see any hint of an influx on any unit, we quarantine the entire population and stop all admissions to that program.
We are continuing to test any youth in our care for Covid-19, if they display symptoms, or leave our facility for any reason. If a youth tests positive for Covid-19 or is suspected of having Covid-19 while we are waiting for test results, we will notify the parent/Legally Responsible Person (LRP) and encourage his/her parent/LRP to take the youth to their permanent residence for a fourteen (14) day quarantine. When that is not feasible, we will quarantine the youth here.
Our plans for outdoor visitation are in place and ready. Unfortunately, the current infection data, both inside our facility and out in the general community, continues to indicate that it would be premature to start this process. I will happily inform everyone when we feel it’s safe to begin. Your continued cooperation and adherence to our “no visitors inside our building” policy is appreciated and has been an effective measure in lowering the curve. Just as a reminder, our position regarding Therapeutic Home Time (THTs) is clear; anytime a youth leaves our care and travels in the community, that experience increases the likelihood of infection entering our building, placing all of our residents and employees at risk. Thus, we only endorse off campus events if they are medically essential. I appreciate your continued cooperation with these restrictions.
Thank you for allowing us to care for your child.
Sam E. Phifer, LCSW