October 22, 2020
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 at New Hope Carolinas.
The World Health Organization reports right at 40 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide and over 1 million deaths. The United States is reporting over 8 million reported cases to date and more than 55 thousand new cases every day. Hospitalizations are increasing in 41 states, including SC and NC. The data clearly tells us this virus is not contained and reminds us that strong mitigation strategies are necessary to ensure safety. Over the past week, we experienced new cases for the first time in over three months (July 13, 2020), but they are currently isolated to our Starting Pointe and Safe Harbor programs. Eight Starting Pointe residents were confirmed positive last week and were placed in quarantine off the unit. We quarantined the entire unit, re-tested all residents and closed all admissions to this program last week. One resident has tested positive on the Safe Harbor unit today and will be placed in quarantine off the unit. We have now quarantined the entire unit and closed all admissions. We also saw an increase in employees who have called out of work with Covid-19 symptoms or due to direct exposure to someone with the virus. Since the pandemic began in February/March 2020, we have had a total of 18 confirmed employee cases of Covid-19 (approximately a 2 per month average of a workforce of over 400 employees), with all returning to work following quarantine or scheduled to return following quarantine.
As we enter into cold and flu season, we believe we will see an increased number of staff and residents presenting with symptoms that mimic Covid-19. 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. It is possible to have all 3. We now have the flu vaccine and we are in the process of offering it to all employees and residents.
We are continuing the entry screening and other robust 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 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 if they 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 a fourteen (14) day 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 remain on hold, pending better infection rate data in South Carolina. Your continued cooperation and adherence to our “no visitors inside our building” policy is appreciated. Video conferencing is always available, through your therapist. I appreciate your continued cooperation with these restrictions.
Thank you for allowing us to care for your child.
Sam E. Phifer, LCSW