Agency Response to COVID-19: March 30, 2020


March 30, 2020

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

NEW: You may have noted that the number of cases of COVID-19 has increased quickly in the last few days. Please keep in mind that that over 48, 000 tests have been done and labs are working as quickly as possible. There are now dedicated lab facilities which has increased the speed of processing time. The key to flattening the curve is physical distancing and eliminating new contacts. The results may take some time to be noted but it is a proven technique to eliminate the transmission of the virus.

All provincial and national parks and historic sites are closed, as well as the parking lots.

The Bruce Trail Conservancy is urging hikers to stay off the trails for the moment. This unprecedented request from BTC has not come lightly.

Several local trails are closed to prevent people encounters in close quarters. Enjoy wider streets where you can be 6 feet away from another walker. Enjoy the yard of your home.

We want to thank all employees at all levels- Direct Support Professionals in the home and community, the administrative team organizing logistics, managers who are available and children and family services available to parents and caregivers during this challenging period of history.

EarlyON is exploring and scheduling virtual classes for parents and caregivers and also have telephone support.

You can still purchase take out/delivery from several restaurants. The package should be handled with care, discarded immediately and the food transferred to plates and heated up in the microwave or oven for a few minutes to eliminate potential contamination. Hands should not be touching packaging and food without appropriate hand washing.

HRS is available through email and phone during business hours. They can do virtual consultations with you as needed.

Please do a self screen at home before leaving for work. Should you have any symptoms, please contact the manager immediately prior to leaving your home.

The Ontario government has banned gatherings of more than 5 people that are not living in the same house such as parades, events including weddings, social gatherings and communal services within places of worship. This order would not apply to private households with five people or more. It would also not apply to supporting frontline health care workers provided the number of persons at each centre does not exceed 50 people. Funerals would be permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time.

All non-essential travel in and out of the community should be avoided.

Please remember not to increase the use of PPE unnecessarily. Supplies are low across the world.

Currently, Ontario has over 1, 706 cases and continues to rise in Canada. Please continue physical distancing practices and avoid interactions with new people. Europe numbers continue to grow.

Remember that our EAP program has several tools for your and your family to support you during this period of time.

We will be working to build garbage shelters, which can be done without contact with the home.

We have a more robust screening process that is implemented in all the homes. You will be required to answer a series of questions, take a temperature and sign at every shift.

Currently, Ontario has over 967 cases and continues to rise in Canada. Please continue social distancing practices and avoid interactions with new people. Europe numbers continue to grow.

Please keep in mind that individuals we serve do not have outside contact now and would therefore not be the one to infect you with the covid-19 virus. Rather, you and your colleague could potentially infect one of the individuals.

Remember that these are unprecedented times. The direction may change almost daily due to governmental direction and further information on the development of the pandemic. Please talk to us and support each other. We are not planning for 6 months in the future for now and we will see how things evolve over the next weeks and months.

We are starting to be very creative with delivering support through Facetime and other methods. The response has been very positive with young adults who like technology and have a comfort level with that technology. Sometimes, face to face communication is more challenging and this offers a very positive alternative. This can certainly continue in the future.

We are connecting with each other several times daily with Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans, and it would be a great way to continue after this situation has passed. It allows for up to date and timely connectivity.

Do not go to work if you feel sick! Please call your manager. You will be required to call your manager prior to your return to ensure you are fit. Do not expose your colleagues and people we support to germs.

At this time, we are cautious with the use of PPE in order to preserve our stock. Supplies of PPE around the world is scarce and would be difficult to obtain quickly. We wanted to ensure you had your own kit available to you should the need arise. It should be located in a designated area of the home.

Please ensure we have an updated phone number for you.

Remember to clean your hands when out in the community or wear gloves for added protection such as shopping carts, gas pumps, door handles of businesses, etc.

We are blessed with redeployed DSP so please keep individuals busy, active and with choices. We need to ensure variety during these weeks to avoid potential behaviors.

Avoiding new contacts in your personal life will dramatically reduce your risk of contagion. Practice Social distancing in all your activities and wash your hands often. Avoid play dates, dinner parties outside of your immediate family. Rather have a dinner party by connecting through Facetime or other methods for “face to face” and connection.

Remember to avoid touching your face. Frequently touching one’s face results in the spread of cold and flu germs.

Please be aware of new malware using headlines of Coronavirus information to get into your computer. Only open e-mails from trusted sources.

The Canadian border is 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.

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.

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.

• PLEASE DO NOT GO TO WORK SICK. Call 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. We do have processes we will put in place should isolation be required in a home. Remember that it is contact and NOT airborne.
• Please see Sharevision for a listing of special store hours for seniors and people with disabilities.
• Find resources online specifically for direct support professionals working during COVID-19 at

Children Services
• The physical locations of the Child Care Centre Tot‘N’Tykes and EarlyON Centres are closed until further notice by our government.
• Virtual activities with EarlyON are on Facebook! You can also call the Centre.

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 outside the country requires you to self-isolate for a period of 14 days and employees will be required to contact their manager or leadership team prior to returning to work to ensure all guidelines are followed. This is a Government of Canada requirement now.
• This guidance is also from our Health Unit as outlined below

    • All international 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 Canada; 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.
    • 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 705-7217520 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.

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 to your physician’s office or the screening centre at Collingwood General & Marine Hospital
• 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