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.
Unfortunately the United States now has over 5 million people who are known to have been infected with Covid-19. Dr Deborah Birx, Corona Virus Response Coordinator for the White House recently described the current level of infection as “extraordinarily widespread”. Many experts are saying that the actual number of cases is likely to be 5 to 10 times higher than what is reported, as many people infected are asymptomatic and, as a result, simply haven’t been tested. As Covid-19 continues to surge in many parts of the country and little to no “flattening of the curve” here in South Carolina, I’m pleased to again report that things continue to be relatively quiet at New Hope Carolinas.
Since my last letter, we continue to note a very low number of employee reports of feeling ill or being directly exposed to someone with Covid-19 symptoms. As of today, we are only tracking 1 employee 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 currently have zero residents on quarantine status due to positive tests results for Covid-19.
While we are grateful for this 30+ day lull in actual cases, we recognize that Covid-19 is a long-term battle, and we know that we will continue to be challenged by community spread making its way into our resident and employee populations. Rest assured we remain fully prepared to manage these “flare ups or influxes” over the next year or so until we get a vaccine.
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. 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 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 in the general community continues to indicate that it would not be prudent 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, and we quarantine any resident who leaves our facility for any reason for a full 14 days as a precaution. I appreciate your continued cooperation with these restrictions.
Thank you for allowing us to care for your child.
Sam E. Phifer, LCSW