Greetings Staff, Individuals, Family and Friends of Athelas,
I hope this finds everyone doing well and staying safe. It’s time for another update about Athelas during these unprecedented times. I am pleased to report that we currently have no active cases of COVID 19. Athelas staff continue to take excellent care of all of the individuals in our homes. Activities, games, contests and classes are being provided to help the days pass in the most positive fashion. That is not to say that some people aren’t having a hard time understanding the situation , the changes in their lives and all of the new rules. Athelas’ Clinical/Behavioral Supports staff have been very involved in working with some folks to ease the anxiety we are all feeling about this situation. Calls to the home to speak with individuals as well as support for the staff is being offered regularly. Other counseling and behavioral tools are being used with those who are more challenging. All levels of staff are working together to provide the extra supports that are needed.
You should know by now that families and friends may visit their loved ones outside the house. Visits inside are still prohibited. The last note I sent outlined this plan. Many have taken advantage of this with good results. If you want to visit, please call the house manager to make your “reservation”. Visits are limited to two people or less and can last an hour. Masks must be worn throughout the visit and social distancing is enforced. Hopefully, the weather will break soon and more people can visit comfortably.
You can also “visit” via the internet. All homes now have tablets with various virtual visiting/meeting apps. All individuals also have an email address. Again, please call the house to get this information if you’d like to have a virtual visit.
While most administrative staff have been working from home, after the 4th of July holiday, the main office was reopened. A schedule limiting how many people could be at the office was devised along with procedures to keep everyone safe. That was going well until this new spike in COVID cases began. Administrative staff now have the option to work from either home of office. A receptionist is there to take calls during business hours. We will be watching the Maryland and national statistics to determine how to proceed.
The Athelas Executive staff and myself continue to meet bi-weekly to share information, best practices and problem solve. I am so fortunate to work with such a bright, dedicated group. They have our individuals’ best interests as their priority and are providing great supports to our Direct Support Professionals (DSP’s).
Given all of the constant fluctuations in this pandemic, it appears unlikely that day services will be opening at the programs any time soon. Thanks to all of you who responded to our survey about reopening programs. It was very clear that the majority of you did not want to risk anyone’s health and well-being . Many said they would wait until there was a vaccine. As a result of this survey, staff have been trying to call or reach out to all Athelas families to let you know about classes that are being held virtually. I am attaching the calendar of classes that will be offered in August and the information about each. There are a variety of subjects and classes are free! Supplies for arts and crafts activities will be delivered to you. You will, however, need to provide ingredients for the cooking classes. If you are not sure your family member will enjoy this format, please just take a look. Even if they don’t love the activity, it’s a chance to see friends , as well as have some fun. Did I mention the dance party every Friday? There are also some very serious classes about employment, skills training, etc.
If you need technology to participate in these classes, please notify us. DDA is assisting in providing some of this. We really want as many people as possible to get involved. Feedback from families has been great, so far. Athelas staff have been very creative with their classes and many more subjects are being explored. If you have a topic you think we have missed, please let us know.
As we are all learning, this may be our new normal. Athelas will continue to add to the virtual classes being offered. We hope these will provide fun, thoughtful, interesting subjects that everyone can learn from. If you want to contact me about technology resources, classes or anything else, I will make sure that you are assisted. I can best be reached at email@example.com.
Please take care and be well.
Diane S. LaSov,
UPDATE 5/1/2020 -
Hello friends and family of Athelas,
I wanted to continue to touch base with our families and friends.
As a result of the excellent level of care being given at Athelas’ homes, and some good fortune, we are glad to report that Athelas is Covid-free.
Our staff and individuals have been diligent about following the directions of the health departments, our nursing staff and their supervisors. The results speak for themselves and we are thrilled!
Day program staff continue to provide assistance during the day. There have been many new activities tried and there are a series of “challenges “ going on between the houses. We have had the lip sync challenge, make your own band, exercise routines and many craft activities, to name a few. We are planning to post some of these on the website (www.athelasinstitute.org) and on our Facebook page. I hope you get to see these and enjoy them as much as we have. Don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook!
Staff have been very busy behind the scenes. Athelas has purchased a tablet for each house. Originally these were to be used for tele-health visits with our individuals’ doctors. We have given each resident his/her own email address. Once the tablets are configured, instructions and email addresses can be sent out so you will be able to “visit” with your family member via these tablets. This process should be completed in the next week or so.
All staff are using a variety of technology while working from home. We have been having Zoom meetings and learning to communicate in a variety of ways. We hope to continue to use what we’ve learned when we are open to help simplify processes and stay connected better.
Our Facilities team has been completing some big projects and readying our day programs for everyone’s return. The buildings really look great!
Speaking of return, we really don’t have a good handle on when that will be. According to the Governor’s three phase plan, Athelas’ services would be included in Phase 3. Since we haven’t started Phase 1, it’s hard to predict when this might be. The Executive staff have started to outline plans for reopening the day programs. Social distancing and sanitary conditions are two of the priorities that have to be kept in the forefront while making these plans.
We still have the date of June 19 for the annual Celebration of Athelas. We may have to reschedule, but we really want to hold this event. We will keep you informed about this. Make a note because everyone is welcome!
I must make sure to thank those of you who responded to the last email with some terrific donations. While we are trying to provide our staff and individuals with everything to keep safe, supplies are not always easy to get. Surgical masks are the hardest supply to maintain because they can only be used once or twice. We have been getting cloth masks from staff and volunteers. These are greatly appreciated. A very special thanks goes out to Shannon Baker, Sally Goss, Cheri Auger and Russell Anderson. Your efforts and generosity in helping to keep us supplied has been wonderful. Athelas is very grateful for your help.
Should anyone else like to make a donation of supplies or funds to buy supplies, we would appreciate it. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss more about what is needed.
Thanks to everyone who has supported Athelas staff and individuals during this time. I will continue to keep everyone up to date about what is going on and if plans to reopen are getting closer.
Please stay safe and be well.
Additional Info for 5/1/2020 -
Click below to see and download a great resource from DDA & The ARC of Howard County that explains the COVID-19 virus, what you can do to stay safe, and resources for additional information.
UPDATE 4/1/2020 -
Hello Athelas staff, family and friends,
As the Covid 19 virus continues to be a part of our “new normal”, Athelas has also been affected. Fortunately, we have been able to address these concerns quickly and do everything to protect each other. Please be assured that if you or a loved one were in contact with anyone affected, you have already been notified. Athelas will continue to be vigilant in making sure that communication concerning this is done quickly. We are unable to give names or locations publicly because of HIPPA and confidentiality rules. I hope everyone can understand this.
Athelas is now following the newest guidelines from DDA. This means that NO VISITORS will be allowed at any of the houses. This includes family members, friends and Athelas staff not scheduled to be at that location. Managers and other administrative staff will be checking in via phone, video, etc. We would encourage families and friends do the same. We are all experiencing these changes in our lives together. Every effort is being made to provide activities and stimulation at our houses. Still, a phone call from a loved one can mean so much! Anyone arriving at a house will stopped at the door and NOT allowed to enter!
At this time, Athelas offices and day services remain closed indefinitely. We will continue to monitor for any new directives from DDA or the state of Maryland.
If anyone knows of resources for gloves, PPE’s, cleaning supplies, etc., please email me at email@example.com. We have what we need for now, but keeping stocked with supplies can be difficult.
Also, please take a moment and thank the hard working Athelas staff who are working daily to help take great care of our residential individuals. We can’t do this without them! They can’t do their jobs without your support!
Diane S. LaSov,
Athelas Institute, Inc.
UPDATE 3/26/2020 -
I just wanted to provide a clarification to yesterday's announcement - The Day Programs may be CLOSED through Friday, April 10. In addition, the Athelas Main Office is CLOSED until further notice. We will continue to re-evaluate based on allowed numbers of people able to be together, as well as any other recommendations from the Governor or CDC.
In no way, do we want to put anyone at risk or break the law.
While many providers have laid off or furloughed staff, Athelas continues to have every intention of supporting our staff by continuing to pay all staff, no matter their situation. However, this is predicated on DDA continuing to fund Athelas for all programs whether we are operating or not. DDA has applied to Medicare and the Federal Government to continue to fund providers. We will know more about the results of this in the coming days. If funding should change we will be forced to reevaluate.
Athelas’ mission is to care for the individuals who participate in our programs. It is critical that all staff who are capable and available, do all they can to fill our staffing needs. Those with circumstances that require that they stay home, should. During the last 2 weeks, the response from staff has been impressive. We are doing all we can to give everyone work hours when requested.
We can’t thank all of you enough and urge you to continue to help until this situation is over.
With most sincere thanks,
Diane S. LaSov,
Athelas Institute, Inc.
UPDATE 3/25/2020 -
i just wanted to give everyone an update about plans for the immediate future.
Athelas Day Services will continue to be closed for the next two weeks. We will re-evaluate at that time.
Decisions will be based on the Governor's recommendations concerning the health crisis and allowing large groups to convene.
In no way do we want to put anyone at Athelas at risk. To staff who continue to work, you are doing a
n amazing job and it is greatly appreciated!
DDA has not determined how to continue funding providers but are working with Medicaid to do so. We hope to know more about this in the coming days.
Since this information keeps changing, we will assess and try to do the best we can for Athelas staff and maintain services for our individuals.
Thanks again to everyone for their fantastic efforts, teamwork and just making the best out of a situation none of us has ever experienced.
I will keep updating as new information becomes available.
Athelas Institute, Inc.
UPDATE 3/23/2020 -
First of all, I want to make sure to thank everyone for their amazing support and great work ethics during this really difficult and uncertain time.
We can’t have continued to provide excellent services to our individuals without each of you.
From Administrative staff to Transportation staff to DSP’s and everyone else, you all have been doing an amazing help to make sure Athelas’ mission continues!
Second, as a result of Governor Hogan’s announcement today about closing non-essential businesses, Athelas will be responding in the following way:
- Athelas Day Programs will be closed until further notice.
- Athelas main offices will be closed as of 5:00PM today (3/23/2020) with essential staff working from home. They will be able to access their email.
- Athelas homes, of course remain open. This is an essential service.
- We have provided Athelas ID’s for anyone working at the residences that identify you as essential staff. If something more official comes from DDA, we will get that to you, as well.
- Phone calls to the main office will be forwarded to specific staff who will pass along messages or contact you, if needed.
- There are currently no lay-offs or furloughs planned for Athelas staff.
I will continue to share any information with staff and community as required.
Thanks again to everyone! We can’t do what we do without you.
Diane S. LaSov,
Athelas Institute, Inc.
UPDATE 3/18/2020 -
Click below to see and download a great resource that explains the COVID-19 virus that was created by and for People with Disabilities.
ANNOUNCEMENT 3/16/2020 -
Click on the link below to see and download an announcement by Athelas Institute's Executive Director, Diane LaSov, regarding our response to the COVID-19 situation.