COVID-19 Coronavirus Response

Here is a summary of our COVID-19 Response Policies and Plans by Program. Updated October 7th, 2020.

Please read for an update on our administrative office and day program locations.

The state numbers on COVID-19 infections and related deaths continue to decline in Massachusetts and surrounding states. We are still approaching the state’s recovery cautiously. Experts at the state and national level feel that a second surge in COVID-19 infections is likely in the fall. Given this likelihood, Massachusetts residents are strongly encouraged to continue practicing precautions such as social distancing, utilizing face coverings in public and when in close proximity with others, and hand washing.
Fidelity House CRC is still requiring the following in our offices and residences:
  • Social distancing (6 feet or more) whenever possible
  • Use of non-porous face coverings (N-95 masks, K-95 masks, surgical masks) in all offices (common areas such as hallways, restrooms, reception area, and kitchenettes) and group home residences
  • Increased hand-washing with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures across all offices and residential locations
  • Completion of a COVID disclosure prior to entering any FHCRC office or home
Re-opening update as of October 7, 2020:
Phase three of Governor Baker’s plan to re-open Massachusetts began back on July 6th. Facets of our organization fall within the Phase three guidelines; therefore we have been working diligently to ensure a safe and effective re-opening of our facilities and offices. Due to capacity guidelines and health/safety precautions, restrictions on the number of personnel and persons served in FHCRC buildings will continue for many months. As we re-open, the following procedures will be in place across our offices and facilities:
  • Social distancing (6 feet or more) whenever possible
  • Required face coverings
  • Increased hand washing with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures across all offices and residential locations
  • Completion of a COVID disclosure and temperature screening prior to entry
FHCRC OFFICES:
FHCRC office locations continue to remain closed to the public. Back in September, some administrative personnel began working out of our offices on a limited basis. Dates for a full re-opening to the public will be announced in advance and will be accompanied by new requirements to ensure the prevention of virus transmission.

 

Heritage Place (Lawrence) Admin Offices

  • Office remains closed to the public
  • Admin staff onsite intermittently, set schedule
  • All inquiries to: Department VPs
  • Any large scale return of employees will be revisited in December. Notification will be sent to employees well in advance of the re-opening date.

 

Parkridge Rd (Bradford) Day Program

  • Office remains closed to the public
  • Onsite Day Services offered on limited basis
  • Virtual programming still offered
  • All inquires to: Erica Mawby-Roche

 

Merrimack St. (Haverhill) Landmark Building

  • Office remains closed to the public
  • Clients are being served onsite, on a limited basis
  • Virtual programming still offered
  • All inquires to: Dan Ouellette
FHCRC leadership is actively participating in various work groups, in conjunction with our funding sources and other provider organizations, to ensure we are well informed and remain focused on health and safety. Thank you for your patience and your willingness to engage with us throughout this challenging time. We continue to be humbled by the strength and determination of those we serve, their family members, our employees, and everyone in the community who has supported us through this crisis.
Updates on Visitation in Group Homes:
e are glad to announce that the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has approved for indoor visitation at residential group homes to begin on 10/1, at each provider agency’s discretion. Although this guidance has an effective date of 10/1, we at FHCRC, will be thoughtfully working with each family and person supported along with their clinical teams to ensure that everyone’s safety remains our top priority.
We are asking family members who are interested in visiting with their loved ones (inside the residential homes) to please reach out to Karen Wilhelmy, Assistant VP of Community Living: kwilhelmy@fidelityhhs.org
Karen can help to discuss a plan that will safely accommodate all family requests. We are not guaranteeing each request for individual reasons but we are more than happy to assist in supporting people and connecting the people of FHCRC with their families even more.
As always, all outside visitations will continue to be coordinated through each Residential Program Director of each community residence.
Fidelity House CRC is in the process of revising its internal policies to reflect the measures we feel we can safely implement at this time. Changes to our policy will continue to evolve over the next few months as we continue to focus on ensuring the health and safety of our employees and persons served. Visits will continue to be scheduled in advance, take place outdoors, and be limited to two visitors per resident, one visit at a time, per home. All visitors will still be required to undergo COVID-19 screening at the homes prior to visits.

Our first priority remains the health and safety of those we support and our employees. When it comes to re-opening and easing restrictions in place at our residential programs, we are still closely following guidance from state and federal entities, including DDS and MassHealth.

We will continue to provide regular updates regarding our COVID-19 response efforts and any plans to re-open our offices and day program. Day Program employees, participants, and family members will be notified well in advance of a re-opening date, as well as precautions in place to protect the health and safety of all.

A private Facebook group, “We are Fidelity House CRC,” is now in place to help employees and the people we support to stay connected during this challenging time. If you would like to join this group, please email jryder@fidelityhhs.org for an invitation.

I.    Administrative Offices – 978-685-9471

  1. The office at 439 South Union Street remains closed and we anticipate they will remain closed through the end of August. Updates on re-opening will be communicated as soon as decisions are made. We are targeting an early September re-opening date for our Heritage location. We will keep everyone informed of reopening plans for our admin offices as we receive more guidance from DDS, Mass Health and other state entities.
  2. Administrative staff members are working mostly from home with only essential hands-on activities like mail processing and check printing occurring at the office.
  3. In-person, scheduled appointments will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  4. If necessary to meet in person, all employees and visitors will be asked to complete a COVID-screening prior to entering the office and then to follow hand-washing and social distancing procedures.
  5. Email is the best way to reach out with specific questions and concerns related to Administration. Administration Contact list:

CEO, Brad Howell bhowell@fidelityhhs.org

Residential Nursing, Meghan Fisk mfisk@fidelityhhs.org

CFO, Leanna Fleming lfleming@fidelityhhs.org

VP Community Living Services, Wanda Gomez wgomez@fidelityhhs.org

VP Children and Family Services, Sue Lunn slunn@fidelityhhs.org

VP Human Resources, Kathryn Mageary, kmageary@fidelityhhs.org

VP Day and Employment Services, Erica Mawby-Roche, emawby@fidelityhhs.org

Facilities Manager, Matt Osgood mosgood@fidelityhhs.org

Director of Quality Assurance, Josh Ryder jryder@fidelityhhs.org

Clinical Services, Courtney Salerno csalerno@fidelityhhs.org

VP of Strategic Development, Kristen Tarsia ktarsia@fidelityhhs.org

II.  FHCRC COVID-19 Hotline – 978-891-0782

  1.  FHCRC has opened up a call line specific to the COVID-19 situation for individuals served, family members and guardians, medical providers and other community resources. Hotline Number: 978-891-0782
  2. Hotline Hours: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday – Friday
  3. The call line is open to address questions or concerns about COVID-19 Coronavirus as it relates to particular clients or individuals with disabilities. We will provide information or direct you to the appropriate resource.
  4. For more information from DDS, please this message from DDS Commissioner Jane Ryder for individuals and families:  https://fidelityhhs.org/message-from-dds-2/
  5. If you have questions or concerns about a specific program’s response or efforts, please contact the Program Director first. If the response is unsatisfactory to you, we encourage you to call the hotline to escalate your concerns.
  6. We ask employees to please direct all questions to your direct supervisor.

III. Services at Parkridge Rd, Ward Hill Industrial Park, Haverhill – 978-374-9122

Parkridge Rd Day Services:

  • Erica Mawby-Roche, VP of Day Services, is working with persons served, families, and other team members to assess each person’s readiness to return to our day programs.
  • Parkridge Rd will begin serving a small group of people on August 3rd. Each week, the team will assess its ability to increase numbers served and then plan and communicate accordingly.
  • Virtual day programming will continue to be offered in conjunction with the in-person services. This will ensure persons served maintain connections to FHCRC personnel and services until the timing is right for them to return.
  • FHCRC staff will receive training on COVID prevention, signs/symptoms of illness, and increased health and safety procedures prior to August 3rd and regularly thereafter.
  • Efforts to prevent virus transmission go beyond health, safety, and cleaning measures to include the use of personalized materials and supplies for all participants.
  • Services affected include: Day Habilitation, Community-Based Day Services (CBDS), Acquired Brain Injury Day Services (ABI Day), and DDS Contract Jobs.

6.  Landmark Building Vocational Rehab Services

  • Phone and email check-ins provided several times week.
  • Virtual meetings are being held through Zoom, Google Hangout and FaceTime
  • Job site check-ins and coaching provided weekly or as needed

7.  Landmark Building Pre-ETS

  • Classes are being offered through Google Classroom with participating schools
  • Phone and email check-ins are not currently being provided unless need is pressing

8.  Landmark Building Veterans Employment Program

  • In person meetings are occurring with prior COVID-19 screening
  • In-home visits are not currently allowable due to VA restrictions
  • Phone and email check-ins are being implemented for all Veterans as well as the option to participate in virtual meetings through Zoom, Google Hangout or FaceTime

IV.  Residential Services – 978-685-9471

  • UPDATED: Visitor Policy SEE ABOVE
    • DDS released updated guidelines on October 4th, related to visitation of people living in DDS group homes.
    • Immediate family members and guardians interested in visiting their family members under the guidance of DDS, must contact the Program Director at the specific group home to set up a visit.
    • All visits must be approved and coordinated by the Program Director, and requests must provide at least a 24 hour notice.
    • View the full guidance from DDS here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/executive-office-of-health-and-human-services-visitation-guidance-during-covid-19#department-of-developmental-services-
    • Social distancing requirements will be relaxed to allow for an embrace between family members and loved ones at the beginning and/or end of visits.
    • At all other times, social distancing practices must be followed
  • All non-essential medical appointments are cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later time.
  • Telehealth has been implemented across all community residences to provide access to medical care without risk of exposure to COVID-19 coronavirus and to keep each individual as happy and healthy as possible.
  • At this time, per DDS recommendations, individuals living in FHCRC homes are not permitted to leave the group home unless the family intends to care for the person throughout the entirety of this COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Review and approval by FHCRC’s CEO is required to release an individual from a FHCRC group home to a family member or guardian.

2.  COVID-19 Coronavirus Screening Procedures

  • Upon entering a group home, each person is asked to complete a COVID-19 self-disclosure form.
        • The form asks a series of questions.
        • The forms will be filed in a binder at each group home.
        • Employees are asked to complete the form at the beginning of each shift or prior to entering a home.
  • If employees, consultants, approved contractors, or limited visitors exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, or if they have been potentially exposed to COVID-19, as indicated on the screening form, they must immediately leave the home and notify the program’s PD or SPD and await instructions.

3.  Communication with Families

  • We are making every effort at the program level to communicate regularly and thoroughly with family members and loved ones.
  • If you find yourself in need of more information and are unsatisfied with the communication you are currently receiving from a Program Director, please reach out via our COVID-19 hotline to report concerns or request additional support.
  • “We are Fidelity House CRC” is a private Facebook group to help family members stay connected during this challenging time. If you would like to join this group, please email jryder@fidelityhhs.org for an invitation.

4.  Staffing

  • FHCRC employees have been issued an “essential services” letter that allows them to travel to group residences or to perform other essential services.
  • FHCRC is utilizing existing Residential staff to the greatest extent possible to cover the extended time people are home (due to day program closures).
  • Relief and temporary agencies (with whom we have contracted for many years) are assisting where appropriate.
  • Many Day Services staff who are currently not working (due to Parkridge being closed) have been offered the opportunity to work in Residential.

5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Our management staff is working diligently with supply companies and pharmacies to ensure FHCRC is well equipped.
  • Guidelines on the use and storage of PPE have been developed.
  • While there are concerns about a statewide shortage of PPE, we are in direct contact with DDS to request any needed PPE both now as a preventative measure and in the event we need to deploy additional PPE supplies in a specific home due to exposure/diagnosis.

V.  Case Management Services / Supported Home Care – 978-374-9122

  1.  Adult Foster Care (AFC)
  • There is currently a No Visitor rule as well as a restriction on outings and visits outside of the care provider’s home.
  • AFC case managers are in touch with families via phone at this time. In-person visits are allowed only if there is a pressing need.
  • AFC case managers are required to complete a COVID-19 self-disclosure form prior to each in-person visit with an AFC provider/person served. These forms are filed with the AFC Director.
  • If an in-person visit is necessary, the AFC case manager will complete a COVID-19 screening (with questions about both symptoms and travel) over the phone with AFC provider to ensure no one in the home is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms prior to a visit.
  • AFC case managers have been equipped with a supply of cleaning materials and personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure their health and safety during visits to providers in the community.

2.  Individual Support Services (ISS) and Individualized Home Supports (IHS)

  • ISS/IHS case managers will be visiting individuals on a limited basis. Emergent medical needs, food security and other basic needs will be prioritized.
  • Case managers are required to complete a COVID-19 self-disclosure form prior to each in-person visit with an ISS individual. These forms are filed with the ISS Director.
  • Prior to every ISS/IHS visit, the case manager will complete a COVID-19 screening (with questions about both symptoms and travel) over the phone or through a closed door with the individual and anyone else living in the home to ensure no one in the home is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Case managers have been equipped with a supply of cleaning materials and PPE (personal protective equipment) to ensure health and safety during visits to individuals in the community.
  • FHCRC has deployed 35 Ipads for use in ISS settings. The Ipads allow individuals living independently in the community to connect with caseworkers, medical providers, and their families.

3.  Shared Living (SL)

  • There is currently a No Visitor rule as well as a restriction on outings and visits outside of the care provider’s home.
  • SL case managers are in touch with families via phone at this time.
  • In person visits are allowed if there is a pressing need.
  • SL case managers are required to complete a COVID-19 self-disclosure form prior to each in-person visit with an SL provider/person served. These forms are filed with the SL Director.
  • If an in-person visit is necessary, the SL case manager will complete a COVID-19 screening (with questions about both symptoms and travel) over the phone with SL provider to ensure no one in the home is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms prior to a visit
  • SL case managers have been equipped with a supply of cleaning materials and PPE (personal protective equipment) to ensure their health and safety during visits to providers in the community.

4.  Rep Payee Services

  • Rep Payee Services will continue despite office closures. However, visitors and persons served will not be able to enter the Parkridge location until further notice.
  • If there is a need for funds or supports beyond what people typically receive, please contact the rep payee directly by email or phone.
  • Arrangements will be made to deliver funds through mail or by appointment outside of the Parkridge location.
  • Rep Payee Contact Information:

Eleanor Andrews, eandrews@fidelityhhs.org, 978-374-9122 x 270

Joyce Fusco, jfusco@fideliltyhhs.org, 978-374-9122 x 228

VI.  Children and Family Services – 978-685-9471

  1. All in-person activities and parent training workshops are cancelled until further notice. Updates on cancellations beyond that date will be communicated as soon as decisions are made.
  2. This includes all family activities in the community and at our office location, adult/teen recreation, bowling league, Latino Support group, pop-up parent/guardian meet ups, and Family Support Center based trainings.
  3. All home visits have been suspended. Individuals and family members are still able to contact their assigned service navigator/case manager via phone or email.
  4. Virtual programming and zoom meetings are being utilized whenever possible.
  5. Service navigators and case managers reach out to all assigned families as they would on a home visit. They work with each family to come up with a workflow to complete any paperwork.
  6. FHCRC’s Children & Family Services will revisit these temporary restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.
  7. We understand that these measures may pose difficulties but are necessary to protect the health of all family member and to contain the spread of this virus. Especially with schools, day programs, and child care programs closed, it can be stressful.
  8. Please feel free to reach out to your service navigator or case manager who can provide information, referral to other community resources, and work with DDS to address questions that may arise.

For more information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19), please refer to the following website for the most updated information on the outbreak and measures being implemented across the state: mass.gov/2019coronavirus.

  • Social distancing is remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.

    Centers for Disease Control
36COVID-19 Coronavirus Response