December 22, 2020
Dear Parent/Legal Guardian/ Treatment Ally:
I would like to extend my warm greetings to everyone this holiday season. On behalf of the entire team at New Hope, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve your child and family during these difficult times. 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 at New Hope Carolinas.
Since my last letter we have seen cases surge all across the country, filling hospitals to capacity and stretching resources to their limits. Covid-19 is now the leading cause of death in the US, with 1-2 Americans dying from the virus every minute on average. The data continues to clearly indicate the virus is not contained and reminds us that strong mitigation strategies continue to be necessary to ensure the safety of our residents and employees. Your patience, understanding and continued cooperation and adherence to these necessary restrictions are appreciated.
I want to emphasize the danger it presents anytime a resident leaves our facility and travels in the community. Even though we have the ability to quarantine and test these residents upon their return, that puts an additional strain on our resources, from test kits to manpower to space, and it puts that resident in the position to have to isolate and increase their stress. And even when a youth is in quarantine, there is no guarantee that he/she will not contract the virus from another individual (residents and/or staff) or infect others (residents and/or staff). While I realize how important it is for everyone to spend time with family, particularly over the Christmas holidays, those visits create the potential of a real and immediate threat to the safety of every one of the residents and employees at New Hope due to the deadly nature of this virus. If you are considering pulling your child over the holidays for a visit, I implore you to reconsider. We are on the priority list for vaccines and two have now been approved by the FDA. There is light at the end of this tunnel. Please bear with our restrictions a little longer.
Due to the robust nature of our mitigation strategies, we currently don’t have only youth in quarantine for Covid-19!
We are continuing our entry screening and other detailed processes in place designed to track and monitor the wellness of our employees. 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 if we see any hint of an influx on any unit, we will continue to test and quarantine the entire population and stop all admissions to that program. We are now requesting a negative test for any new admissions, as an additional precaution.
We are continuing to test any youth in our care for Covid-19 if they display symptoms or if they leave our facility for any reason. When a resident displays or reports any symptoms, our process includes conducting a rapid test for influenza and strep and testing for Covid-19, then isolating that resident until we have results back on all 3. We are continuing to offer the flu vaccine, which is mandatory for all residents, and employees, and we are anticipating getting access to the Moderna vaccine sometime in January. Please begin encouraging and preparing your child to accept this vaccine as they are considered critical to the safety of anyone living or working in a congregate care type facility like ours. Remember, if any youth tests positive for Covid-19, we will notify the parent/Legally Responsible Person (LRP) and encourage his/her parent/LRP to take the youth to their permanent residence for quarantine. When that is not feasible, we will quarantine the youth here.
Our plans for outdoor visitation and fully returning all employees to the workplace also remain on hold, pending better infection rates data in South Carolina. The CDC is again urging all Americans to avoid holiday travel as it increases the likelihood of community spread. Due to the current trending of infection rates, coupled with clear guidance from the CDC, we DO NOT support any therapeutic home visits (THTs) over the upcoming holidays. Remember, video conferencing is always available, through your therapist.
Thank you again for allowing us to care for your child. May your Christmas be blessed with lots of love, care and happiness this season. Happy Holidays!
Sam E. Phifer, LCSW