October 4, 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.
We have two positive cases in our resident population. The male resident on the Starting Pointe program was fully vaccinated, and asymptomatic. This serves as a good example of how virulent this virus can be. The resident left our facility on an unapproved home pass which is when we believe they acquired the virus. The resident was tested and quarantined upon return and was in quarantine at the time test results revealed they had the virus. The female resident on Transformations 2 was not vaccinated and recently left campus for a medical appointment She is asymptomatic. Both residents remain in quarantine, so we are hopeful we have this particular infection contained. This is a good example of why we are not condoning Therapeutic Home Time (THTs) or home passes, and why we quarantine and test any child who leaves our care for any time or reason. Currently no programs are on unit quarantine or closed to admissions.
The South Carolina and York County positive test rates both continue to be well above the 5% threshold. For allowing visitors etc. In light of this data, we are continuing our suspension of all outdoor visitation and Therapeutic Home Time (THT) until these trends show sustained improvement. Window visits are still available by appointment. Please schedule these through your child’s Therapist. We will continue reviewing the data weekly and every Monday we are informing Case Managers and Therapists if these options are available. Please understand that we have an obligation to ensure the safety of all of our residents and employees, and that we reserve the right to suspend in person visitation and THTs at any time, based on local/internal infection rates.
The Food & Drug Administration, (FDA) fully approved the Pfizer vaccine for anyone over age 16 on August 23, 2021. On May 10, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gave Emergency use Authorization for any child over age 12. While I am very happy to report that we have helped vaccinate over 100 youth in our care, unfortunately we still have some residents who have not been vaccinated. If you haven’t consented to the vaccine, please be aware that your child is living in a high -risk environment, and that cases of children getting seriously ill from Covid-19 are on the rise. If you haven’t consented for your child to get the vaccine, I urge you to do so quickly. I recently mailed consents to every legal guardian for whom we didn’t have consent. If you need another consent form, please ask your Case Manager or Therapist to send you one.
We are making all arrangements for the vaccine appointments and providing transportation. Be advised that anyone age 16 or older can consent and no additional parent/legal guardian signature is needed. However, we are requesting consent from all legal guardians to allow New Hope to provide the assistance needed to schedule and transport residents to a vaccine clinic. Due to the increased infection rates associated with the Delta variant, we are now eliminating all of the benefits previously offer to vaccinated youth. Your patience, understanding and continued cooperation and adherence to these necessary restrictions are appreciated.
We continue to require testing of all residents and encourage the testing of all employees on a weekly basis. In addition to weekly testing, we are also requesting a negative test for any new admission and we continue to monitor all residents daily for symptoms. We are also continuing to test and quarantine any new admissions or unvaccinated residents who are away from our building for any reason, as a precaution. If we see any hint of an influx on any unit, we will test and quarantine the entire unit and stop all admissions to that program. 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.
We are continuing to offer financial incentives to our employees to be vaccinated, and we are developing policy and procedures to prepare for the federal mandates regarding vaccines for settings like ours. We continue to require all employees to wear a mask, regardless of vaccine status, per CDC guidelines. We are also continuing our entry screening and other detailed processes in place designed to track and monitor the wellness of our employees and further limit the spread of Covid-19 in our building.
Thank you again for allowing us to care for your child.
Sam E. Phifer, LCSW