Agency Response to COVID-19: March 19, 2020


March 19, 2020

To Employees, Parents, Families, Caregivers and Directors of the Board

NEW: These are unprecedented times. Please take the time to take care of yourself and your family members. Rediscover simple pleasure like board games at home, online courses that are offered free of charge, exercise, meditation and prayer. Breathe in nature. Find new ways to cook using your ingredients and YouTube! Breathe deeply and sleep soundly.

Should you know someone at home with children and needs new activities, direct them to our EarlyON Child and Family Centres for some live connection with our Early Childhood Educators. They will engage you and the kids in fun virtual activities on the live Facebook streaming! They are also available for phone consultations.

Microsoft Teams has been organized and Anne Patrick can support you. We also have BlueJeans available through Patricia Green. Use technology to stay connected to others. You can also use the technology to connect homes for some shared activities. Talk to your managers and Anne!

Keeping social distance of 2 meters is essential in preventing contagion of flu viruses. Droplets are the carriers. The distance will allow the droplets to fall instead of being breathed in.

The North Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has recommended that all dine-in restaurants, bars, places of worship, theatres, concert venues and nightclubs be closed. This followed the recommendations from Dr. Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario.

There are currently 250 cases in Ontario. Our health leaders are testing and have confirmed over 12, 000 negative cases. It is a focus and we should be pleased with the quick action of our government to flatten the curve. Most have contracted the virus with international travel and others are through close contact with the traveller.

The Canadian border may be closing to non-essential as of Friday March 20th. However, shipments of food, supplies will still be occurring thanks to our dedicated truck drivers.

Please remember social distancing, frequent handwashing and cleaning surfaces will decrease the spread of COVID-19. Unless you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you are practicing social distances, you are at low risk.

If you have travelled outside the country, you are required to self-isolate for 2 weeks and monitor your symptoms, as per direction from our Ontario Public Health. All employees who have travelled recently have been self isolating.

If you have cancelled vacation during this pandemic, as per recommendations of health authorities, we thank you for keeping the community, your colleagues and the people we support safe. You will shortly receive information on how you can use that vacation time in the future while you return to work.

Please contact Lori Perry or Lisa Roche should you have questions regarding grocery shopping. They will guide you in the process.

The state of emergency for the province is holding until March 31st, at which time the government will reassess if an extension is required.

All homes and offices are locked entry. We are limiting exposure for individuals we serve, employees and their families.

Should families decide to bring their loved ones home, they will need to remain with the family for the duration of the pandemic period to avoid potential exposure to the rest of the residents.

We should continuously screen ourselves and the people we support.

Individuals we support
• PLEASE INFORM MANAGEMENT SHOULD SOMEONE NOT BE WELL IN THE HOME. This is the normal practice at any other time as individuals will get sick. We need to ensure that they stay healthy.
• No maintenance contractors unless absolutely necessary. Please contact Peter Doner.

• If you know that one of your colleagues has been away out of the country, please connect with your manager. People must self identify to protect colleagues, their families and people we support.
• PLEASE DO NOT GO TO WORK SICK. Call your manager.
• If you note a colleague not respecting the guidelines that have been put in place for your safety, please report immediately to your manager.
• PPE: We are following best practices from the government of Ontario and guidelines for health community services and long term care facilities. Hand washing frequently, enhanced cleaning of surfaces and self-screening of self and residents is best. The use of PPE during regular care should not be used. Routine practices during personal hygiene is advised.

Children Services
• The Child Care Centre Tot‘N’Tykes and EarlyON Centres are closed until further notice by our government.

Basic information
• Please wash hand with soap and water, 20 seconds, using a proven hand washing technique.
• Surfaces should be cleaned regularly according to protocol.
• Traveling has been discouraged by our Canadian government. Employees returning from outside the country will need to self-isolate for a period of 14 days and they will be required to contact their manager or leadership team prior to returning to work to ensure all guidelines are followed. This will prevent spread of the virus to our most vulnerable.
• This guidance is also from our Health Unit as outlines below.

  • The Government of Canada has announced that all Canadian travellers should return to Canada now.
  • All travellers who are returning from Hubei province in China, Iran and Italy should report to your local public health unit within 24 hours of arriving in Canada (in Simcoe Muskoka contact SMDHU at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520);
  • stay at home and avoid close contact with others, including those in your home, for a total of 14 days from the date that you left the affected area; and
  • monitor your health for fever, cough and difficulty breathing and contact Telehealth 1866-797-0000, your health care provider, or your local public health department by phone (in Simcoe Muskoka contact SMDHU at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520), if you develop symptoms of COVID-19.
  • All other travellers who have been outside of Canada, upon return should follow the following advice:
    • Travellers who have returned from a COVID-affected area* need to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of illness for 14 days. If within 14 days of returning, they have fever (over 38 degrees Celsius) and/or onset of (or exacerbation of chronic) cough, they are asked to self-isolate at home until 24 hours after symptoms have resolved. The impacted area* is based on current epidemiology and World Health Organization (WHO) Situation Report which currently includes over 100 countries. At this time, such ill travelers as a group are not on the list of persons to be tested.
    • If you need further advice, please call Telehealth 1-866-797-0000, your health care provider, or your local public health unit (in Simcoe Muskoka call SMDHU at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520)
    • If you are ill and must visit a hospital or health care professional, call ahead and tell them that you have a respiratory illness.
    • *Affected areas include: China (mainland); Hong Kong; Iran; Italy; Japan; Singapore; South Korea.

Our sources

• Non-essential visits are suspended
• If you are or someone you live with are exhibiting any flu like systems such as cough, fever, or difficulty breathing; Please report
• We are asking that you do not come to any site for a full 14 days following your return to Canada and with confirmation that you are not exhibiting symptoms of or test positive for COVID-19. If you live with someone who has travelled, you must report this issue to your manager.

Practice Good Hygiene
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available;
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just washed your hands with soap;
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm, not your hand;
• If you or a member of your family are sick, stay home. And please, do not visit our programs or residences to limit the chance those in our care from becoming ill.

Your Steering Committee: Christine Vallis-Page Scott Kelly Peter Doner
Tracy Nancekivell Patricia Green Lori McKean
Heather Grasman Deborah Sauvé (JH&SC) Irene Currie(JH&SC)
Salvina Lutz (JH&SC) Kim Saunders Nancy MacDonald
Cindy Boyce

We will continue to update you daily through memo, email and social media. Please send your questions or comments to the Steering Committee. We are raising awareness and plan to stay ahead of potential spread. Visit our website for all the memos under about us > news. Keep in mind that directions will change rapidly and will require fluidity. These are unusual times and we are thankful for your continued support. We thank you for your dedicated work and support to some of our most vulnerable Ontarians.

Best regards,

Christine Vallis-Page