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.
The United States now has over 3 million people affected by Covid-19 and cases continue to surge all across the country. It’s increasingly clear to us that this virus isn’t slowing down and that we will be in this fight for the foreseeable future. Over the past week, several local cities enacted mandatory facial coverings, which we hope will help contain the spread locally.
Since my last letter, we have noted a modest increase in the number of employee reports of being ill or being directly exposed to someone with Covid-19 symptoms. As of today, we are now tracking 4 employees who are 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 9 confirmed cases of Covid-19. 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.
I am pleased to report that we currently have zero positive cases in our facility. We have a admission freeze on one of our female programs due to a suspected case and plan to have that freeze lifted by 7/24 .
We continue to test our residents and have now tested the majority of youth in our care. We are confident that we are becoming increasingly adept at identifying and containing the virus on specific units; however, we recognize that this is a long-term battle, and we know that we will continue to be challenged by community spread infecting our employees, who, in turn unknowingly bring it into our resident population because they are not experiencing any symptoms. Unfortunately, we are expecting to continue to see these “flare ups or influxes” over the next year or so until we get a vaccine. Our next big challenge is operationalizing a system that cohorts residents and staff more consistently, and streamlining testing turnaround times as part of our overall targeted testing approach. Unfortunately, due to the surge in community cases, we have seen our test result turnaround times increase, not decrease, which delays our ability to respond and isolate those we need to.
Despite these challenges we will continue to 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 center for any reason, as a precaution, and once we see any evidence of an influx on any unit, we quarantine the entire population and stop all admissions to that program.
Over the past week we invited a team of epidemiological nurses from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control in to review our procedures and make any recommendations for improvement. The team was complimentary of our pro-active approaches and had no significant feedback for improvement to offer.
We are continuing to test any youth in our care for Covid-19, if they display symptoms, or leave our facility for any reason. If a youth tests positive for Covid-19 or is suspected of having Covid-19 while we are waiting for test results, 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 are in place and ready. Unfortunately, the current infection data, both inside our facility and out in the general community, continues to indicate that it would be premature 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. We have noticed a recent increase in requests to take residents off campus. Our position on this 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. Thank you again for your continued cooperation with these restrictions.
Thank you for allowing us to care for your child.
Sam E. Phifer, LCSW