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Flattening the Curve

Wow, it has been more than two months since we saw the first official case of COVID-19 arrive in Michigan on March 10, and nearly that long since we had our first client at Special Tree diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 27. Since then we have seen our terrific staff step up to manage the crisis with determination, implementing practices and protocols as we navigated new territory in care and rehabilitation.

This week marks our first week since the start of all this that we can report NO NEW CASES of COVID-19 for either our staff or clients. To date, of approximately 150 clients in our system, 8 have tested positive for the virus. Of 650 employees, 20 have tested positive. Currently we do not have any admitted clients with an active case of the virus. (!) And although we are grateful and hopeful in seeing our numbers decrease, we also continue practices to aggressively protect clients and staff in as many ways as possible.

Here are the latest updates:

  • Our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) task force reports that supplies seem to be opening up overall, and it is getting easier to maintain our needed masks, gowns, and isolation equipment. We’d like to give a big shoutout to this group as they have done a tremendous job of keeping our staff equipped with what they needed throughout, a key measure in the success we have had to date to slow and prevent the spread of COVID at Special Tree.
  • Therapy services for clients at the NeuroCare Campus continue to increase as we slowly migrate from in-room therapy to use of the therapy clinic, ZeroG, and other equipment. Each week we carefully bring a few more clients out of in-room therapy as we integrate them back into their usual treatment environments.
  • We’re working on options for offering outpatient therapy in Wayne County again, and ways to modify our practices to keep inpatient and outpatient clients from interacting to ensure continued safety of the clients who reside at Special Tree full time while still enabling outpatient clients to continue their rehabilitation outside of the current telehealth offerings.
  • Plans are in the works to open the Troy NeuroSkills Outpatient Clinic for essential therapy, vocational, and pediatric services potentially beginning the week of June 1, 2020. As we did with our Saginaw location, we will implement enhanced practices for disinfecting equipment, social distancing measures, use of PPE, staggering client therapy sessions, and more.
  • We have modified our screening protocol to raise the temperature threshold to 100° effective this coming Monday, May 18, 2020. In examining data and experience of the last two months, we have determined 100° to be the most effective level for screening. This will apply to all employees, clients, and visitors (once they are welcomed back). Employees continue to self temp at home followed by a screening temp upon arrival at all of our facilities.
  • Special Tree continues to follow CDC guidelines, best practices, and to ensure we are following the correct procedures to meet each Executive Order from the State of Michigan, including the most recent EO relating to long term care environments.
  • On that note, due to Executive Orders, visitor restrictions continue. We are making plans for how we can safely welcome visitors back when restrictions are lifted, and contingency plans to enable families to connect with loved ones in creative ways should the restrictions continue into June.
  • Beginning this coming Monday, May 18, 2020, we are lifting the in-room quarantines for clients at the NeuroCare Center. Communal dining will not resume (per Executive Order) but clients will be able to leave their rooms as appropriate. In-room quarantines were already lifted for residential clients. Extensive training and education has been provided to all regarding social distancing and facility specific practices to ensure client safety. Special Tree staff will help clients adhere to safe practices as guided by our infection control team.

We’ll continue to keep you up-to-date on the steps we’re taking in response to COVID-19 and encourage you to reach out to your Case Manager or Residential Program Manager with your questions and concerns.