2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19/2019-n-CoV) Guidelines and Updates from Gateway Counseling Center
Gateway Counseling Center is officially reopening!
Click here to see our Safety Reopening Plan. (Last updated July 29, 2020)
For details and safety protocols, please see the Gateway Alerts section below. We look forward to seeing all of our clients again and are fully committed to keeping everyone safe as New York begins the process of reopening.
Below, you will find the most current updates detailing our COVID-19 response. Please feel free to contact us with questions or concerns at (718)325-5021.
Alert November 13: Updated Travel Policy For Gateway Counseling Center
Alert November 6: Find Your Local COVID Testing Site in New York City
Alert October 13: Updates to OPWDD Program Screening Procedures
Alert October 13: Joint Incoming Travel Advisory List Updates
According to a press release, Governor Cuomo announced a change to the origins on the 14-day quarantine travel advisory. The full list is below.
– North Carolina
– North Dakota
– New Mexico
– Puerto Rico
– Rhode Island
– South Carolina
– West Virginia
Alert October 1: Non Emergency Visits To Gateway Sites
document, increased access will be permitted to program facilities to include OPWDD employees
and employees of outside vendors and agencies (hereinafter referred to as “outside employees”) to
access program facilities to perform maintenance and repair work, conduct routine surveys, and
other non-emergent inspections.
Alert September 24: Joint Incoming Travel Advisory List Updates
According to a press release, Governor Cuomo announced a change to the origins on the 14-day quarantine travel advisory. The full list, as found in the press release:
– North Carolina
– North Dakota
– Puerto Rico
– Rhode Island
– South Carolina
– West Virginia
Alert July 29: Revised Staff Guidance for the Management of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in OPWDD Facilities or Programs
Find the document HERE.
This revised guidance document covers all programs and facilities operated or certified by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.
Alert July 27: Letter to Individuals, Caregivers, Families, and the Community of Gateway Counseling Center, Inc.
First and foremost, we at Gateway would like to take this moment to send our thoughts and well wishes to everyone in the community and those affected directly or indirectly by the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage you to reach out to Gateway if you are in need of community resources that may be helpful to you at this time. Secondly, we would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support and cooperation towards the agency during these difficult and unprecedented times.
We would also like to address our efforts and our ongoing commitment to ensuring the health and safety of the community as restrictive measures are being lifted across New York State.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have swiftly enacted protective measures that go beyond the minimum guidance suggested by local, state and federal health regulators. We began additional sanitization and cleaning procedures, conducting temperature checks and enforcing health and safety policies related to the outbreaks not only before New York discovered its first COVID-19 case but also prior to COVID-19s official categorization as a pandemic.
As we all adjust to our new normal, we want to assure you that Gateway is continuing to practice important safety measures recognized to be effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 thus far and we are committed to developing policies, procedures and practices that exceed the minimum safety guidance as more knowledge becomes available in the future. At this point in time, we are still conducting non-contact temperature checks, mandatory face coverings, quarantine/isolation measures and increased sanitization and cleaning of our spaces that are currently open. We have also begun conducting health screening questionnaires, enforcing physical distancing (and enforcing all vendors, associates, service recipients and guests practice physical distancing and abidance to our policies as well), staggered scheduling, suspension of all in-person meetings, and training from our medical staff, to name a few additional measures. We will continue to practice protective measures and develop policies aimed at keeping the public safe as local, state and national guidance is published.
We are also excited to announce that our new Day Services location in Downtown Brooklyn is opening upon the reopening of OPWDD Day Services in-person – a new beautiful facility with lots of light, views of Downtown Brooklyn and most importantly during this time – a massive increase in space, allowing us to safely practice physical distancing. More information about this space will be provided in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, we thank you again for your ongoing support. If you would like to review Gateway news or policies and procedures related to COVID-19, you can visit our site dedicated to keeping you informed in real time, here. As with all we do here at Gateway, it is our hope that we exceed the general standards and expectations of us within our community. Gateway is committed to operating in a manner that is safe and consistent with best practices for infection prevention and all programs subject to reopening will have their own reopening plans that factor in transportation, location, capacity, social distancing, protective measures and personal protective equipment, and the safety of all participants and staff.
We are dedicated to continue providing tele-health services to the individuals that we serve and helping wherever we can.
We encourage you to reach out to us if you have any questions and we hope to reconnect with everyone soon!
-Your Gateway Family
Alert July 24: New Equipment and Protocols
1) Nu Wave Air Purifier
These are stationed in each group room at all of our program and corporate locations. The machine kills 99.99% of bacteria and destroys 99.96% of viruses. It also lowers the ground level ozone concentration more than 70 times lower than current EPA limits and below the ozone concentration outdoors anywhere in the US. The purifier has an advanced 4-filter system with a stainless steel pre-filter, a bioguard filter, an ozone emission removal filter and a combination HEPA/Carbon Filter.
2) Plastic Dividers
These will be stationed at our program facilities. The dividers allow employees and individuals to be protected even when social distancing is difficult by acting as a physical barrier that stops germs from passing through. With their interlocking design, they can evenly divide a table and remain upright without extra hardware. They are made of plastic materials that are completely clear and won’t obscure or impede vision in any way, and can help bring back a sense of normalcy by allowing face-to-face interactions over mealtimes group activities or small meetings.
3) Non-Contact Temperature Measuring Kiosks
These non-contact kiosks are currently installed in all of our facilities. They automatically read body temperature in seconds, providing contactless, self-service technology to measure customers and visitors for “at risk” temperatures at the point of admittance. These kiosks are invaluable to carry out employee and individual temperature checks and identify abnormal temperatures.
There are signs posted throughout the Gateway facilities to remind everyone to wear face coverings and to adhere to social distancing rules, to adhere to proper hygiene, appropriate use of PPE, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols. Please click the image below to see a gallery of examples of signage in our facilities.
Alert July 22: GCC OPWDD Program Facility Reopening Plan
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) while meeting the minimum standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Alert June 25: Quarantine Guidelines for Joint Incoming Travel Advisory
Gateway Counseling Center is following Governor Cuomo’s Joint Travel Advisory that all individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state.
Alert June 19: Gateway COVID Transportation Guidelines
Here you can read the new GCC COVID Transportation Guidelines.
For questions or concerns, contact Gateway’s Chief Compliance Officer, Kelly Fox, at email@example.com.
Alert June 11: Corporate Office Reopening Plan
Here you can read the new GCC Corporate Office Reopening Plan.
For questions or concerns, contact Gateway’s Chief Compliance Officer, Kelly Fox, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alert June 1: Reopening Plan and The Pledge
From: Fred Romero
CEO, Gateway Counseling Center
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced New York State’s gradual reopening plan for businesses. In an effort to comply with New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) guidelines for reopening, we will be implementing a reopening plan for Gateway programs, services, and offices. Though it is unclear when we will be reopening our program facilities, the opening of administrative offices will occur in Phase 2 of Governor Cuomo’s reopening plan. It is our assumption that program facilities will reopen in Phase 4, under educational institutions. We expect that New York State OPWDD will specify when we will actually be allowed to reopen our program facilities.
For more details on New York State’s official reopening phases visit forward.ny.gov.
THE REOPENING PLAN
Gateway’s Reopening Plan will address the gradual reopening. It will be issued shortly, in the coming days. The Reopening Plan will provide detailed guidelines employees must follow and adhere to before entering any Gateway building and before engaging in any Gateway work in the field. In order to reopen safely, we must follow the important guidelines within the Reopening Plan, set forth by state and national health regulators.
We must make a pledge, which is a promise and a commitment to follow the guidelines in the Reopening Plan to ensure that we do not increase the likelihood of exposure to ourselves and spread to our fellow co-workers and our individuals and clients.
The Pledge is important, because the decisions one person makes outside of work can greatly influence not only their safety, but also the safety of their loved ones and co-workers.
Finally, I want to express my gratitude to all of the employees who have been working from home throughout this crisis and for doing your part to help continue services to individuals and clients and for keeping the organization’s lights on. Though our fortitude will continue to be challenged during uncertain times, Gateway (this means all of you) remains a shining light of hope for better days and a brighter future for all of our children. I want to thank you for being a part of it and for remaining a member of our Gateway family.
Fred S. Romero, MBA, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer
Gateway Counseling Center, Inc.
1776 Eastchester Road, Suite 220
Bronx, New York 10461
Alert May 5: Emergency Transportation Policy
CEO, Gateway Counseling Center, LLC
Gateway and GCC Transportation LLC (Gateway subsidiary) will partner to provide overnight supplemental MTA transportation services via a subcontract between GCC Transportation LLC and Limosys. The MTA recently awarded a contract to Limosys to dispatch to transportation bases across NYC to transport MTA passengers via 511 calls at night while MTA disinfects trains. In order to safely provide this service to the general population, Gateway will issue an emergency policy that will go into effect immediately for all Gateway/GCC Transportation LLC transporters (separate policies, one for each company). All transporters will be required to wear PPEs and vehicles are to be temporarily retrofitted with a protective plastic barrier between driver and passengers. All passengers riding in a Gateway vehicle will be required to wear protective masks before entering the vehicle. All Gateway owned vehicles and GCC Transportation LLC contracted TLC registered vehicles must be equipped with cleaning/disinfectants and must be cleaned thoroughly after the vehicles are returned to their base. This policy is in effect immediately. A formal policy outlining this will be issued by the Chief Compliance Office to all Gateway and GCC Transportation LLC personnel/agents in the coming days. This policy will remain in effect until further notice.
Thank you. Please be safe.
Alert April 10
Today, we received official notice from NYS OPWDD to provide telehealth services and the services will be billable. In late February we began developing the capability to provide telehealth services in anticipation of this ruling from NYS OPWDD. The system is currently up and running. This means that all OPWDD direct support workers and supervisors can begin working from home immediately.
More details to follow.
Alert April 8: OMH To Open For Medication Administration ONLY
Fred S. Romero, LCSW, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
Gateway Counseling Center Inc.
In consultation with Dr. Fruitman, MD, Medical Director, we will be re-opening the OMH facility at 735 East 239th Street, Bronx, NY for medication administration ONLY effective Monday April 13, 2020. This will ensure that clients who receive injections through Gateway will continue to receive this crucial psychiatric care. These clients will be grouped by residence or geographic areas in small numbers of at least 5, but no more than 10 and a time to enter the building will be assigned to them. This must be coordinated by the program administrators along with the transportation providers. This coordinate effort was developed to ensure that we maintain social distancing and reduce the possibility of exposure between potential carriers, clients and medical staff alike while accomplishing this important task.
The facility will remain completely closed until Monday April 13, 2020, which is exactly 14 days from the date of the most recent COVID positive test date of a person who entered the OMH facility at 735 East 239th Street.
The limited access is ONLY for medical staff and ONLY for the purpose of administering injections for people who receive injections from our psychiatric medical personnel. ONLY clients who receive injections may be assigned an appointment and may access the building to receive their scheduled injections.
Only one group at a time will be allowed to form a line leading to the medical office so appointment times should be properly spaced.
PPEs such as masks and gloves must be distributed to each individual who are about to enter the building. They will be issued PPEs upon exiting the vehicles. Then the staff must direct the clients to form a line with a minimum of 6 feet of distance apart from each other, outside of the building before they enter. Everyone on line must have placed their masks and gloves on before anyone enters the building. They will not enter the building before this takes place. Medical staff will do a proper inspection of each client to ensure that client has correctly placed their mask and gloves. This will occur before anyone on line enters the building. Again, any client who refuses to wear the PPEs will not be allowed to enter the building. The doctor will be notified in such instances and will then make a determination on what proper steps to take. Medical staff must wear PPEs at all times.
Throughout the entire time they are in the building, they will be kept at least 6 feet apart. Medical staff will cordon the area around the front entrance and hallway and into the medical offices to keep clients from wandering the rest of the facility. They will form a line with safe distance in between, enter the medical office, receive their medication and return to their transportation vehicle.
Once each client in the group has received their medication, they will exit the building and return to the vehicle. Once everyone in the group has left in their vehicles, the next group of individuals will exit their vehicles and the process will repeat. This will continue throughout the day until everyone has received their injection. Medical staff will keep proper record of any clients who did not arrive to receive their injection and arrangements will be made to ensure that this is remedied.
Once the services are completed, medical staff are to leave the building and building maintenance crew will sanitize the cordoned areas used by the medical staff and properly record who performed the task and the areas that were disinfected and thoroughly cleaned.
This entire process will be repeated exactly as outlined in this email and will not deviate. NO EXCEPTIONS, unless otherwise directed by the Medical Director.
Medical staff may deputize non-medical staff to assist, but not before receiving prior approval in writing (email) from the OMH Program Director.
All other OMH employees may be eligible to perform daily OMH services via telehealth while the building remains closed for all services other than medication administration. The Program Director will coordinate this effort. This daily service is open to all clients who receive CDTP services through Gateway including clients who can access the building for injections only.
The Medical Director, psychiatric nurse, OMH Program Director, OMH Program Coordinator and GCC Transportation dispatcher must coordinate this endeavor. This protocol will remain in effect until further notice.
Alert March 26: FFCRA Informational Poster
Alert March 24: Letter from Gateway’s Medical Director Dr. Edward Fruitman MD
Dear Gateway staff,
I am writing this email in hopes of sharing my thoughts during this time of crisis. I am writing this email to you as a fellow Gateway Employee and as Medical Director, and I know that many are stressed by the spread of Covid19 and suffer from uncertainty about their safety and the future of our agency and economy of our country. I wanted to share my thoughts about this situation:
GCC is following all the directions that are given to us by state, local and federal government, as well as regulatory agencies: DOH, OPWDD, OMH. In times of crisis, it is very important that we, as Americans, come together as one, under the leadership of our elected leaders and appointed officials. This is not the time for any rebellion or dissent. As you know, we closed our OPWDD program precisely at the time we were commanded to do so, but we are keeping OMH program open, as we are directed to do. This is simply our patriotic duty, to follow explicit orders in the time of crisis.
GCC will weather this crisis and will survive forced closure and reduction of services. In my opinion, we are better prepared for this crisis then most other agencies. Our management team has reserve funds and has secured a line of credit, our board of directors are supportive of all our efforts, and our staff is dedicated and hard-working. I am certainly not looking for another job and hope to continue with GCC for years to come.
Personal safety of our staff members and safety of patients that we treat are a priority to GCC. I personally had several discussions about COVID19 pandemic with Michael Townsend and Fred Romero, starting 12/2019, before it was even declared a pandemic. GCC took this threat very seriously, and our management team did all it realistically could to help us prepare. I personally met with Mrs. Barnes, our chairwomen of the board, Fred and Jessica on 02/25/2020, to discuss our planning and preparedness for COVID19.
We are hearing more and more news about GCC OPWDD patients testing positive for COVID19. This tragedy could not have been prevented by any of us. Unfortunately, our OPWDD individuals belong to the highest risk category for developing COVID19 symptoms if exposed to that virus. What does it mean for our staff? First, do not feel guilty, we did not cause it. Second, do not be fearful, the risk to healthy individuals is modest. Third, assume you were exposed to COVID19. Every resident of NYC should consider themselves to be exposed to COVID19, as per DOH, it is very widespread in our city. We are now in the center of this pandemic. Just yesterday, Florida governor proposed a 14-day quarantine for all New Yorkers as they land in Florida airports.
Stay safe, do not panic, do not blame yourself, do not blame others, do not be angry, remain hopeful, stay positive, do the right thing by following directives from our Government. America has seen worse crises than that and emerged victorious.
Edward Fruitman MD
Alert March 22: OMH CDTP To Resume Services
NYS Office of Mental Health is requiring all OMH services to continue operations as part of essential services. This is certainly understandable given that this population must continue to receive uninterrupted psychiatric care. That being said our CDTP will be operating under limited capacity, providing services to clients who are under our psychiatric care. Many of our clients will be able to receive telehealth services as well. The OMH department will be reaching out to some of our OMH employees to provide services either at the OMH facility or via telehealth from home.
Alert March 19: Two Individuals Who Attend the Bronx Facility Tested Positive For COVID-19
Dear Individuals attending GCC Bronx campus, families, caretakers, vendors, contractors, staff, and residential providers,
This evening we were notified by reliable and confirmed sources that two individuals who attend the GCC Bronx 4500 Furman Ave. facility, tested positive for COVID19 virus.
The first individual last attended Gateway’s 4500 Furman Ave. facility on 3/13/2020. The individual subsequently developed symptoms and was tested on 3/17/2020. Today, 3/19/2020, the test results for COVID19 came back positive.
The second individual last attended Gateway’s 4500 Furman Ave. facility on Wednesday 3/11/2020. The individual began experiencing symptoms on Monday 3/16/2020. Last night the individual was taken to the hospital. The individual was tested, and today 3/19/2020, the test results for COVID19 came positive.
Please take this report as evidence of potential COVID19 exposure to anyone who was present at Gateway’s 4500 Furman Ave. facility, on or prior to 03/13/2020.
Gateway is taking all issues regarding health, safety, and wellbeing of individuals who attend our program very seriously. All of Gateway’s Day Habilitation Programs will remain closed until further notice. We will continue to report any further relevant details regarding this potential exposure incident as they become available.
Alert March 19: OMH Programs are Closed
Effective immediately, the OMH program is closed due to necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will keep you updated as soon as we receive word that programming will resume. We understand the immense strain this may cause to you, your families and the clients, but please use this time to take care of yourselves. We’ll be doing periodic check-ins to see how everyone is managing. Stay safe and stay positive.
Alert March 17: Message from OPWDD Commissioner Kastner Regarding Day Program Services
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
I am writing to inform you of steps that the NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) is taking to ensure the safety of all people with developmental disabilities who participate in day program services.
OPWDD is hereby directing the temporary suspension of services at all Day Habilitation, Day Treatment, and Prevocational Services across the state effective no later than Tuesday, March 17, 2020 by 5 p.m.
We recognize that unexpected changes in scheduling, staffing, or a temporary suspension of day program services all represent significant hardships for families who support their loved ones in their homes. Day program services for people with developmental disabilities allow families to meet their other needs, including earning a living and providing care to other family members.
OPWDD has asked providers of day program services to provide alternative programming for families that will be negatively affected by the suspension of services. Additional guidance that has been provided by OPWDD to our voluntary providers is available on our website at https://opwdd.ny.gov/news_and_publications/coronavirus-guidance-opwdd-service-providers.
The health and well-being of the people we mutually support is of utmost importance and OPWDD will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional updates as new information becomes available.
Theodore Kastner, MD, MS
Alert March 17: OPWDD Closes All Day Programs Effective at 5pm, OMH to remain open
OPWDD has ordered all day programs to close effective today at 5pm. We will finish day services already in session. Supplemental services will be closed. Please check back here for updates and notifications of when we will reopen. Thank you.
Alert March 15:
GATEWAY COUNSELING CENTER, INC. 2019 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19/2019-nCoV) NEW POLICIES: WORK FROM HOME POLICY – EFFECTIVE MONDAY MARCH 16, 2020
ATTENTION ALL GATEWAY COUNSELING CENTER, INC. EMPLOYEES, CONTRACTORS, AND AFFILIATES:
WORK FROM HOME POLICY:
Effective Monday March 16, 2020 it is Gateway’s policy to restrict any of its employees, agents, affiliates and service recipients to engage in any form of face-to-face group gatherings unless it is for the purpose of service provision. To be clear, only those employees and supervisors of those employees who provide face-to-face direct supports and services to any persons who receives services from Gateway or Gateway’s affiliates.
The corporate office will be staffed with one employee at the reception desk to receive packages and to field telephone calls while this work from home policy remains in effect. No employee who does not provide direct support services shall work from any other Gateway facility in accordance with this work from home policy.
It is important to emphasis that corporate administration functions will remain fully operational while this work from home policy remains in effect. It is for this scenario that we have been preparing our administrative operations with the full adoption and integration of cloud technology including communications, videoconferencing and digital paperless documentation to successfully operate a virtual office for any employee required to work from home. Therefore, there will be no disruption of any kind to any departments while this policy remains in effect.
For example, job interviews for new recruits will be conducted fully online, with videoconference job interviews. Since videoconferencing allows for unlimited participants, this will also reduce the number of follow up interviews any candidate may have to attend thus accelerating the search and hire process.
Alert March 13: WORK FROM HOME, NO VISITORS, LIMITED COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES-EFFECTIVE MONDAY MARCH 16, 2020
GATEWAY COUNSELING CENTER, INC. 2019 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19/2019-nCoV) NEW POLICIES: WORK FROM HOME POLICY – EFFECTIVE MONDAY MARCH 16, 2020; NO VISITOR POLICY – EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY; LIMITED COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES POLICY – EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY
ATTENTION ALL GATEWAY COUNSELING CENTER, INC. EMPLOYEES, CONTRACTORS, AND AFFILIATES:
WORK FROM HOME POLICY:Effective Monday March 16, 2020 it is Gateway’s policy to NOT allow any of its employees, agents, affiliates and service recipients to engage in any form of face-to-face group gatherings unless it is for the purpose of service provision. To be clear, only those employees and supervisors of those employees who provide face-to-face direct supports and services to any persons who receives services from Gateway or Gateway’s affiliates. The corporate office will be staffed with one employee at the reception desk to receive packages and to field telephone calls while this work from home policy remains in effect. No employee who does not provide direct support services shall work from any other Gateway facility in accordance with this work from home policy. It is important to emphasize that corporate administration functions will remain fully operational while this work from home policy remains in effect. It is for this scenario that we have been preparing our administrative operations with the full adoption and integration of cloud technology including communications, videoconferencing and digital paperless documentation to successfully operate a virtual office for any employee required to work from home. Therefore, there will be no disruption of any kind to any departments while this policy remains in effect. For example, job interviews for new recruits will be conducted fully online, with videoconference job interviews. Since videoconferencing allows for unlimited participants, this will also reduce the number of follow up interviews any candidate may have to attend thus accelerating the search and hire process.
NO VISITOR POLICY
Effective immediately, Gateway will implement and enforce a No Visitor Policy. This includes parents, care coordinators, and/or anyone else who is not providing direct support services or transportation services to persons who receive services from Gateway. This policy also extends to Gateway employees who are not normally scheduled to report to a facility. To be clear, if you are normally scheduled to report to the Furman Avenue facility, you will not be allowed to enter the Liberty Avenue facility for any reason without the direct permission by the CEO. Such instances would include but not be limited to state audits, federal audits, fire department inspections and other federal, state and local government mandated physical inspections.
This policy will remain in effect until further notice.
LIMITED COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES POLICY
Effective immediately, all community activities to travel to public venues that have occupancy capacities or permits to have gatherings of 500 or more people are suspended until further notice. Any trips to public gatherings restricted by the Governor’s office or the Mayor’s office will also be suspended until such emergency restrictions are lifted by the City of New York and/or the State of New York. This is not to say community access and use is suspended. Rather, we encourage locally-based community activities in small groups of no more that 5 people to places that do not have heavy public foot traffic and do not put people in close proximity to each other.
We understand that these policies may cause some disruption to your work schedule but we will all need to adjust to this new reality at least for the foreseeable future as we do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. I thank you for your cooperation and assistance.
All of these policies are subject to change.
CEO, Gateway Counseling Center
ACANY Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update – March 13, 2020
From Lewis Grossman, CEO Advance Care Alliance of New York (ACA/NY)
Dear ACANY partner agency,
I am writing this to you today to provide you with an update to keep you informed of ACA/NY’s actions in response to the current public health crisis we are currently facing surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19).
We assure you; ACA/NY is fully operational and is actively engaging members, families and providers to provide support, share information and resources to keep us all healthy and safe. ACA/NY remains in close communication with our government partners The Department of Health (DOH) and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), following their guidance as we continue to meet the needs of our members through our committed workforce.
The safety and wellbeing of our members, their families and our workforce is paramount. To ensure this we have taken several measures which include limiting large gatherings: including the temporary suspension of all in person trainings until further notice. Alternatively, we are hosting online learning sessions and conducting webinars to keep our workforce up to date on the changing conditions. In addition, we have made arrangements for our workforce that provides continuity of care. In accordance with OPWDD guidance dated 3/10/2020, like many providers ACA/NY is prescreening visitors to all of our work locations. We ask for your support by making appointments ahead of time when in person appointments must be conducted.
Prevention is key and critical in managing this virus. Centers for Disease Control advises the following:
- Limit opportunities for exposure Avoid large gatherings;
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds using soap and water;
- If soap and water are unavailable use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol ;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Our Customer Care Center remains available 24/7. The number is 833-692-2269;
- As information becomes available, we will continue to provide updates.
Alert – March 12: OPWDD Guidelines for Implementation of Quarantineand/or Isolation Measures
March 11, 2020 REVISED General Guidance for NYS Behavioral Health Programs
March 11: OPWDD Guidance Regarding Visitors to Residential and Nonresidential Facilities for Prevention of the Spread of COVID-19
Department of Health 24/7 Hotline: 1-888-364-3065
Theodore Kastner, M.S., M.D.
The following guidance is applicable to all residential and nonresidential facilities certified or operated by the NYS State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and is based on the most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NYS Department of Health (DOH) recommendations for prevention of the spread the novel coronavirus of 2019 disease (COVID-19) and the management of Persons Under Investigation (PUI). Please review this information, including the links below, with your program’s leadership and staff and make any necessary adjustments to your program policies and protocols. OPWDD encourages you to also monitor your Local Health Department guidance.
- Guidance for screening visitors/members of the public:
All residential and nonresidential facilities certified or operated by OPWDD (e.g. Individualized Residential Alternatives, Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, Site-Based Day Habilitations programs, etc.) receiving regular in-person contact with members of the public should immediately develop policies to schedule and pre-screen over the telephone all planned visits by non-staff entities, including families, care managers, advocates, etc., using the following three questions:
· Have you traveled to a country for which the CDC has issued a Level 2 or 3 travel designation within the last 14 days?;
· To your knowledge, have you had contact with any Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19 within the last 14 days, OR with anyone with known COVID-19?; and
· Do you have any symptoms of a respiratory infection (e.g., cough, sore throat, fever, or shortness of breath)?
Upon screening, if a potential visitor answers “No” to questions (1) and (2) but “Yes” to question (3), please ask them to restrict visitation until they are no longer exhibiting any such symptoms. In the event it is agreed upon that a visit will occur, taking into consideration any heightened risk factors (e.g. the medical status of the person being visited or others in the home), please ask the visitor to wear a mask and to exercise their visit in a contained area, such as a single bedroom, to the extent possible.
For those potential visitors who answer “Yes” to questions (1) or (2), but “No” to question (3) (i.e., reports no symptoms of a respiratory infection), please decline their request for visitation and instruct them to contact the NYS DOH for further direction.
For those potential visitors who answer “Yes” to questions (1) and/or (2), and also “Yes” to question (3), (i.e., reports having symptoms) please also instruct them to immediately contact their medical provider and Local Health Department, and to call 911 if they are experiencing serious symptoms (e.g., shortness of breath). Please also instruct the screened individual to notify the receiving medical provider and transporter in advance of potential concern for COVID-19.
If facilities receive unscheduled or unannounced visitors, screen them appropriately using the three questions above, before allowing entrance into the facility.
- Additional Factors for Consideration
In addition to the above screening guidance, the following factors should be considered when implementing temporary visitation restrictions, in accordance with the health and safety of individuals, associated with COVID-19:
- the general health or medical status of individuals served by a program, which may increase the risk to those individuals;
- the potential or actual infection status of individuals served by a program; and/or
- the prevalence of confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a geographic area which increases potential for risk.
All visitation limitations should be time limited and reviewed on an ongoing basis.
Finally, the visitor poster issued by DOH, should be immediately posted at all facility entrances.
Your attention to this important message is very much appreciated to ensure the safety of you, your staff and the people you support.
Theodore Kastner, M.S., M.D.
EFFECTIVE MARCH 5, 2020 – GATEWAY COUNSELING CENTER, INC. TRAVEL POLICY – 2019 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
It is Gateway’s policy to discourage for any of its employees, agents, affiliates and service recipients to travel to areas/regions where the CDC has reported new cases of Coronavirus COVID-19 within the last two weeks before traveling. We strongly urge you to encourage you to cancel any plans you may have already made to travel to any affected areas. The only way to stop transmission and spread between regions is to reduce the amount of travel between regions, unless it is necessary. Reducing our travel to affected areas is the first barrier of defense against community spread of the Coronavirus, which can complicate the health and well-being of people who are medically frail or elderly, and this is a community responsibility.
We understand that this may not be possible. Since our policy is to protect our employees, agents, affiliates and service recipients against exposure, we will be imposing new regulations on travel. Effective 3/5/2020, any employee who is traveling outside of New York City Metropolitan Area (areas beyond New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut) is required to inform your supervisor/HR of your travel plans and your destination. If you are traveling to any region that has new reported cases of Coronavirus issued by the CDC, or identified by the CDC for potential outbreak clusters, you will be required to stay out of work for 2 weeks upon return from that region. NO EXCEPTIONS. We request that during the 2 week period you voluntarily self-quarantine.
So you received this notice, but you are continuing forward with your travel plans. What do you do?
- Notify your supervisor or Human Resources immediately
- Provide your supervisor or Human Resources with your travel documents that include your return date
- Discuss with your supervisor your options on how you may use your available ESTA/PTO time to be paid for the 14 days you will be required to stay home from work. with your supervisor.
What travel documents do furnish to my supervisor and why do you need this?
We need official travel documents that include your name in order to determine what date you will be able to return to work. We will only accept official documents from the travel issuer. The only documents we will accept for verification will be:
- Flight/bus/train ticket stub,
- A print out a copy of a receipt/itinerary from an official travel agent/airline/bus/train/third party issuer email or print out that displays the return date, or
- Your PHYSICAL passport that will have your arrival date stamped by US Customs and Border Patrol.
We will use this information to determine when you may return to work, which will be 14 days from the date you arrived in New York City (in cases where your total travel time spans beyond one date).
You will be allowed to return to work 2 weeks after your return home, assuming you are not demonstrating any respiratory symptoms or fever.
This policy is subject to change at any time.
Non-Contact Infrared Body Temperature Scanners for Screening
New non-contact infrared body temperature scanners have just arrived. These will be used to screen anyone entering the building including employees reporting to work. We will be deploying them to drivers/matrons and program directors between today and tomorrow. Because supply is limited, only one will be issued per passenger van, to be kept stored in each van after each use, and one for each program for employees and individuals/clients using other forms of transportation.
If we pick up individuals with our vans, the drivers/matrons will use these to screen passengers before they enter the vans when passengers are being picked up.
Masks were also ordered to be used ONLY for people suspected of being sick. These masks are only effective in preventing spreading the virus, not protecting you against the virus. The masks are still currently on back order but we should be receiving them very soon. We will distribute the supply of masks once they arrive.
March 4, 2020 – Coronavirus Alert
Any vendors, affiliates, or agents doing business with Gateway Counseling Center must adhere to GCC’s “2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-2019/2019-n-CoV) Guidelines” in order to remain an active vendor, affiliate, or agent of Gateway. Any vendor, affiliate, or agent that does not adhere to these guidelines will be subject to restrictions or limitations, including but not limited to, suspension or termination of business relationship.
Effective March 4, 2020= LEVEL 1
Informational Sheets Provided for Individuals
Gateway will be providing policies specific to vendors and non-direct support provider contractors who may come in contact with Gateway employees and service recipients during the course of business day. Also, a notice will be provided tomorrow for individuals to bring home to their caretaker or group home provider.
March 3, 2020 – Coronavirus Alert
In accordance with Gateway Counseling Center’s Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19/2019-nCov) Guidelines that will go into effect this evening, Gateway will be activating
effective tomorrow Wednesday March 4, 2020. Please read through the new Guideline thoroughly. The Guidelines include the different levels and what is expected of you at each level.
February 27, 2020 – Coronavirus Alert for Employees
CEO Gateway Counseling Center
As you may know, Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has spread to several countries. I have actually been following this outbreak since late December 2019. Though there are no known cases in NYC at this time (this can change by the minute), it is important to follow along with the updates from news channels. Just as important, we should all revisit the trainings we all received regarding Universal Precautions. Universal Precautions, put simply, is a comprehensive guide to preventing the contraction and spread of infections diseases. The practice of universal precautions is behaving as if everyone and everything you come in contact with is potentially infected. By following universal precautions you not only improve the chances of not becoming infected, but you also improve the chances of ensuring any virus including COIVID-19 will not spread.
In order to better understand the effectiveness universal precautions has with relevance to COVID-19, we first need to understand how it infects and how it spreads. In the following hours and days you will be receiving helpful literature containing important information on the best way to avoid contracting, contaminating and spreading what I can only describe as a stubborn virus. A few things I picked up along the way as I began to familiarize myself with this virus from my research through reputable sources. The virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 9 days. For this reason it is important that you follow Universal Precautions.
It is a contact virus that enters the body through your respiratory system. In other words, try and keep your hands to yourself as much as possible and keep your hands away from your face. The virus can only enter your body if it makes contact with your eyes, nose or mouth, basically the tissue that make up your nasal passage. To keep your hands from becoming a virus carrier, use common sense behavior. Don’t touch door frames, door handles, handrails, and basically anything that people frequently touch and grab, especially in public places like the polls and handrails you would commonly see on buses, and trains, as well as car door handles on taxi cabs and Ubers. Refrain from shaking hands. There are certain things we have to touch. For example, your keyboard and mouse. If no one else shares your computer, chances are it will be safe from unwelcome pathogens.
However, use hand sanitizers/disinfectants to keep your keyboard and mouse germ free. Also wipe down the arm supports if you have an armchair as well has the headrest and sides of the chair. That’s because we often grab our chairs from those points to move our chairs around. Keep your door open and remind others to keep their doors open too. This will minimize the amount of contact we all have with doorknobs. Since it is nearly impossible not to touch things and even less possible to avoid touching our own face, it is important that you frequently wash your hands throughout the course of the day, even if you haven’t moved from your desk. This will get you into the habit of washing your hands constantly.
When you wash your hands, scrub throughly in-between your fingers and around your fingernails and if you can, wash as far up as your elbows. Rinse and repeat again for safe measure. If you did not do this for at least 20 seconds, you probably did not wash throughly enough. Make sure to do this.
So what if I feel like I am coming down with something?
The best thing to do is to report it to your supervisor right away. Your supervisor will most likely ask you to either stay home until you feel better or go home if you are already at work. You will be required to take a sick day, but in some cases, if your job descriptions allows for this, you may be able to work from home. You should discuss this option with your supervisor. If you are feeling sick, you SHOULD take every step necessary to voluntarily self-quarantine FIRST. Then seek the advice of your doctor.
What is “self-quarantine?” Self-quarantine is taking voluntary steps to remove yourself from the general public and maintaining a safe distance from your friends and family for a period of time, typically no more than a few days if symptoms go away. This is assuming you did not travel to an affected area in recent days. If you did, you may need to seek medical attention immediately and you may be required to undergo supervised quarantine. As part of voluntary self-quarantine, you should use a face mask to covering your mouth, and avoiding possible contamination of items and objects people normally touch, like door knobs etc. Basically, using the same universal precautions you would use to avoid catching a virus as a way to prevent spreading the virus.
Follow your doctor’s advice. As with a typical cold or flu, the best route to recovery is getting plenty of rest and taking in plenty of fluids. Ask your doctor about taking over-the-counter, fever-reducing, anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen. Finally, make it a habit to check your temperature every few hours when you are awake.
If symptoms worsen or you begin to have difficulty breathing, seek emergency medical attention immediately. If you are considered HIGH-RISK, for example if you are elderly, have a compromised immune system, have a respiratory condition, or are pregnant, you should consult your doctor for what precautionary steps to take and what to do if you start to feel under the weather.
Planning, education, and being prepared is the best protection against viruses. Here at Gateway, we are actively working on deploying a plan of action in the event of an outbreak. In addition to following the CDC alerts closely, we have engaged Dr. Fruitman’s assistance in establishing countermeasures in the case of a potential outbreak. Dr. Fruitman, with the help of Mrs. Barnes, our board member who is a career-long Registered Nurse who has worked in hospitals for many years and Jessica Lin, will have an emergency plan issued in the coming days. In the meantime here are the steps we are currently taking:
- Stockpiling aerosol disinfectants, surgical face masks, infrared non-contact temperature readers, gloves, hand disinfectants, disinfectant wipes.
- Creating awareness/alert levels with specific directives depending on the severity, should we be faced with a potential outbreak
- Issuing literature and trainings through the typical modes we use for communication and trainings whether they be through either one or more of the following systems: Slack, email, Paycom, Docusign, Netsmart, KnowBe4, Relias, PowerDMS or other system we have at our disposal to disseminate and manage shared information.