December 27, 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.
Today we have ZERO cases in our resident population. Currently no programs are on unit quarantine or closed to admissions. That said, we can see how the new Omicron variant is impacting positivity rates across major portions of our country. I urge anyone who has not consented for their child to get the vaccine and, if eligible the booster, to ensure your child is fully protected.
On 12/10/21, the Food and Drug Administration announced the widely anticipated expansion of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization to allow booster doses for 16- and 17-year-olds. The FDA said boosters for this age group should be administered at least six months following the completion of an initial two-dose regiment. Following FDA’s decision, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally recommended boosters for this age group.
Today we are mailing consent forms to all legal guardians of youth who are, or will be eligible for the third shot between now and January 15,2022. Our team stands ready to schedule and transport your child for a booster shot. Our team here will track and ensure 6 months have passed since the last shot was administered to ensure eligibility.
The South Carolina positivity rate is right at 5%, however the local York County positive test rate is over 10%. In light of the current 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. If you need a consent form, please ask your Case Manager 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.
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