Dear SJCS Family Members,
Thank you all for your ongoing encouragement, communication, and understanding, relative to the Social Distancing protocols that we have implemented throughout all of SJCS programs. The health and safety of your loved ones and our team members are of greatest importance to us, and a responsibility that we take very seriously. In addition to having had restricting family visitation, we have heightened our hygiene and cleaning protocols, and have limited risk by reducing the number of staff your loved ones come in contact with, either through limiting the number of staff that enter a home, or even Quarantining and Sheltering in Place. With your help, we have seen the SJCS level of positive COVID-19 cases be lower than other providers, and in some states have even been fortunate enough to not see any cases at all. That being said, we have had a few people we support hospitalized, and tragically, we had a staff member in Virginia pass away as a result of COVID-19, reminding us all this virus is deadly.
We constantly monitor the guidance from the CDC, States, Local Health Departments, as well as regulatory compliance bodies such as Departments for Developmental Disabilities, Offices of Aging, and Offices of Temporary & Disability Services, and will continue to do so as States begin to reopen. Current guidance is very clear regarding the continued need to protect vulnerable populations such as People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Senior Citizens, People with Underlying and Acute Medical Issues, and People Experiencing Homelessness. All the guidance regarding people in those categories still states that they are at the greatest risk.
With that in mind, we must continue to practice aggressive Social Distancing protocols until such time as the official guidance permits. In communities where official guidance has lessened restrictions and allowed visitation or outings, we will comply but will also ask family members to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. We will also require that family members sign off on an Informed Consent form that acknowledges the potential risks of transmission to their loved ones as a result of visitation or outings. Testing is also being made readily available for people supported under TNDIDD and we strongly encourage everyone to get tested. We may offer the testing to ensure the safety of housemates and the employees providing support to your loved ones.
With your help and understanding, we have been fortunate to not experience the death of a single person we support under current SJCS protocols due to COVID-19. Given how vulnerable they are, I honestly fear for the lives of the people we support once restrictions are lessened or lifted, until such a time as a vaccine exists, and I disagree with the lessening of restrictions happening now in some communities.
I know this is a difficult time and personally understand how hard it is to not see and touch your loved ones. I have not seen my four kids in person due to the virus since Mid-March when it first broke out. For the health and safety of your loved ones, I ask for your continued support by adhering to our Social Distancing protocols, until Health Officials tell us it is safe to lift all protocols in place. Our team members stand ready to assist you with other means by which you can communicate with them remotely and safely, while we make our way through this pandemic. Thank you for helping us keep your loved ones and our team members safe. We will get through this.
Alan Thornton, President and CEO