January 5, 2021
Dear Parent/Legal Guardian/ Treatment Ally:
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. Happy New Year 2021!
Since my last letter we have seen significant holiday surges of Covid-19 infections occurring all across the country. It appears that despite the advice given, many people chose to ignore the warnings about travel and gatherings, and as a result we are all paying a price with increased infections, hospitalizations and deaths. 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.
We went into the holidays Covid free, but we also anticipated seeing some outbreaks during and after the holidays, knowing we had children leaving on passes against medical advice and some staff who would not strictly obey the warnings. Unfortunately, our predictions were accurate. Our New Choices program saw a total of 12 youth infected and, as a result, we placed the entire unit on quarantine and froze all admissions. We also experienced an outbreak on the Waypoint 1 program, with a total of 3 confirmed cases and on our Transformations 2 program with a total of 3 confirmed cases. We placed these two units on full unit quarantine and froze all admissions to them as well.
We are on the priority list for vaccines and two have now been approved by the FDA. Vaccines now offer us a light at the end of this tunnel. However, as stated previously, we do not know when it will be available to our residents and staff. Therefore, if you are considering taking your child for a visit anytime soon, I implore you to reconsider. Please bear with our restrictions on Therapeutic Home Time (THT) and on site visitation a little longer. Help us keep everyone here safe.
We are continuing our entry screening and other detailed processes in place designed to track and monitor the wellness of our employees. Beginning December 30, 2020, SC DHEC began offering free testing of all employees on site, on a weekly basis. We are very excited about having this important strategy in our infection control toolbox, and we are hopeful it will help us further mitigate the spread of Covid -19 in our workforce and building.
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 in early 2021. 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. 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 weeks. Remember, video conferencing is always available, through your therapist.
Thank you again for allowing us to care for your child.
Sam E. Phifer, LCSW