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Providing Care in Challenging Times

Thank you for your continued support as we make our way through COVID-19. To date, of approximately 150 clients in our system, 5 have tested positive for the virus. Out of roughly 650 employees, 13 have tested positive.

We continue to protect our clients and staff in as many ways as possible to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Even before the pandemic started, Special Tree had good practices in place to keep infectious diseases from spreading. The strategies the CDC recommends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities are many of the same ones we have always employed to guard against influenza and other seasonal illnesses. As you know, Special Tree also has many resources in-house that make us uniquely positioned as a long-term care provider to respond to the pandemic including 24/7 onsite nursing and respiratory care and two negative pressure rooms (which keep contaminated air from circulating) at our NeuroCare Center, in-house medical clinicians, on-going quality practices to ensure cleanliness and safety within our facilities, and a robust training and education program for direct care staff which includes infectious disease prevention.

Our COVID-19 Team connects frequently to ensure we are responding to changing conditions.

As the CDC and the state of Michigan continue to modify their guidelines and as the statewide rate of transmission has risen, we are adjusting our protocols for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and prevention strategies at all of our facilities as needed. Due to the pervasiveness of the virus throughout communities, the likelihood of individual exposure is great. This reality coupled with the large ‘contagious’ window, even if an individual is not symptomatic, complicates our strategies to lessen its spread.
For this reason, Special Tree has moved to a 'reverse isolation' philosophy with the requirement that our staff don masks and gowns when present in Special Tree facilities. While standard practice requires the use of PPE to prevent transmission from patient to caregiver, reverse isolation can ensure the opposite-- that caregivers are not spreading the virus to clients or to other staff. Additionally, the COVID-19 Team continues efforts to wisely manage Special Tree’s supply of PPE and to secure supplies through a variety of vendors and community resources. We also have practices in place to keep our supplies sanitized, including the use of a newly acquired ultraviolet disinfection device.

We’re looking ahead to the time when we transition to a new phase of managing COVID-19.

The true impact of COVID-19 will not be clear to us for some time, but we do know it is not going to go away overnight. As our country slowly begins to return to ‘business as usual’ – whatever that starts to look like –we’ll begin to phase back in some of our old routines at Special Tree as well, including admitting new clients into our system, rekindling our therapy and rehabilitation services, bringing administrative staff back to the office, welcoming visitors once again, and more. Our COVID-19 Team has begun to plan for those transitions, in the hope that we can take steps in ways that will ensure the continued safety and protection of our clients, staff, and communities.

Our staff are critical to ensuring we continue to provide important care and treatment to our clients, and we’re working hard to ensure they are supported during this challenging time.

We’re so proud of the creativity, determination, and heart with which our team has responded. We’re working daily to ensure they are supported and that we are fully staffed to meet our clients’ needs. Recent efforts have included:

  • Offering premium pay and extra shift bonuses
     
  • Establishing an Employee Support Hotline staffed by our in-house psychology team
     
  • Transitioning to online education so new hires can have the same high-quality training while reducing both their and our clients’ exposure
     
  • Care kits, daily huddles, treats, and other morale boosters and communication efforts
     
  • Aggressively managing our supply of PPE and providing education on use and sanitizing of PPE
     
  • Ramping up our recruiting efforts to reach out to furloughed employees in our communities and conducting interviews via skype and facetime
     
  • and more

Our goal remains first and foremost to do all we can to slow or prevent the spread of the virus and to keep our clients, staff, and communities healthy and safe. 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.