Our Special Tree team is working each day to keep our clients safe and healthy.
Submitted by Communications Team on March 27, 2020 - 6:58pm
We want to start by sharing with you how much we appreciate our incredible frontline care staff. Their dedication to our clients and continued efforts to provide fabulous care in the midst of this crisis has been truly amazing. Each day brings a new set of circumstances to deal with and they continue to show up with a positive attitude, flexibility, and dedication.
Here are some of the latest developments and what we’re doing to manage COVID-19 at Special Tree:
As communicated earlier today, a client who had recently resided at our Romulus NeuroCare Center later tested positive for COVID-19 after being transferred to the hospital. Due to the severity of his injuries, this client rarely left his private room at the NeuroCare Center and had little to no interaction with other clients. The client was stable and there were no symptoms to suggest he had contracted the virus while in our care.
Staff at all of our facilities are following the latest CDC guidelines and established infection control procedures to protect themselves and other clients.
The COVID-19 Watch Team has elevated screening precautions and is tracking symptoms and illness daily for both clients and staff as we do our best to reduce exposure, prevent the spread of the virus, and keep everyone as protected as possible.
As part of our standard practice client temperatures are taken on every shift. We have elevated our screening protocols so that any concerning symptoms in clients prompt specific COVID-19 follow ups.
All employees have been instructed to “self temp”- taking their own temperature at least twice daily. All employees who work in our facilities are also required to participate in a COVID-19 Health Screen upon entering the building, including having their temperature taken and answering questions about symptoms and exposure.
Due to the prevalence of the virus and the presumed widespread exposure throughout the state, the Michigan Department of Health recommends that healthcare professionals who are asymptomatic continue working. Employees who show any symptoms are not permitted to enter our facilities and will self-quarantine for the recommended 14-day period.
At the NeuroCare Center, many routine client activities have now been restricted to take place in their rooms to reduce exposure risk (meals in rooms, activities in rooms, structured outdoor opportunities, etc.).
Similar to what you may be experiencing in your own home, staff and clients in our residential programs are continuing to employee smart household practices such as disinfecting surfaces, thorough hand washing, more frequent cleaning, vigilance around items coming in and out of the home, keeping clients as reasonably far apart as is practical, etc.
For any confirmed case of COVID-19 at one of our facilities, our COVID-19 Watch Team is exploring several courses of action that could be taken to prevent or reduce exposure to others depending upon the circumstances and resources available to us at the time. While our preference would always be to transfer a client to one of the area hospitals, we are also preparing for the possibility that there may not be any available beds as this virus continues to spread.
We are prepared to provide care for a client in-house who tests positive for COVID-19. At that point, we’d follow normal protocols for isolating the client which includes equipping staff who provide direct care to the patient with an N-95 respirator, gown, and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The COVID-19 Watch Team continues efforts to aggressively manage our supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks.
Thank you to our generous Special Tree family for donating homemade masks. We are overwhelmed by the show of support and have enough donations. No need to send more masks for now.
We have taken many precautions to ensure that our clients have the least exposure possible. This includes temporarily closing our therapy clinics in Midland, Saginaw, and Troy and stopping all therapies for our outpatient and residential clients. Clients at the NeuroCare Center have continued rehabilitation at our on-site clinic.
Administrative staff and anyone who is not providing direct patient care and are able to work off-site are no longer entering our patient care facilities to reduce exposure to clients and direct care staff.
Due to the temporary reduction in client care and rehabilitation services, some employees have regrettably been reassigned, reduced hours, or been laid off for the first time in our forty-five year history. Decisions such as this are being made first to support our goal to mitigate this crisis and protect the health and safety of our clients and staff, and second in support of the long term sustainability of the organization. All of our Special Tree Case Managers and Residential Program Managers are still available to field your calls and emails and to answer any of the questions you may have regarding your loved one’s care.
We want to help you stay connected.
This crisis is difficult for everyone, and with emotions high we know this is an extra tough time to have visitor restrictions in place and to keep your distance from your family and loved ones.
We continue to encourage clients and families to connect through video conferencing, phone calls, and apps like FaceTime, WhatsApp or Skype. Our staff will assist from our end in whatever way we can.
We continue to explore opportunities for telehealth and telemedicine. Many clients who were already receiving services from our psychology and social work team have continued to receive support through this technology.
During the crisis, our psychology and social work teams are providing support and resources to all clients and staff.
NCC and residential staff are working hard to keep client phones operational with frequent reminders to clients to keep phones charged.
We’re working hard to help mitigate any social isolation our clients may experience during this difficult time.
NCC Activities staff are stepping up their programming with alternative activities for clients.
Remember to follow us at specialtree.com/covid19 and on our Facebook page for updates, education, and information.
Thank you for your continued patience and support.
Sincerely, Joseph C. Richert Lela Hickonbottom
President & CEO Chief Nursing Officer