Beginning Monday, September 14, 2020, IAHD will begin to re-open its Day Habilitation programs in the first phase of its plan.
Click the links below for more information:
Oppose the 20% Withhold of I/DD Funding
The NYS Division of Budget (DOB) has directed state agencies to withhold 20% of funding to providers or certain Medicaid Programs.
Please contact the Governor by telephone to let him know you oppose the withholds because of the devastating impact this action will have on the lives of people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
To contact the Governor’s Office, call (518) 474-1041 and leave this message:
“The recent directive by the Division of Budget to withhold 20% of State-only, non-Medicaid funds to providers will potentially hurt people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities by putting certain necessary services in jeopardy. Please direct the DOB to reverse the decision on the 20% withhold. Thank you, Governor.”
As most of you already know, Governor Cuomo has announced that visitation may resume at OPWDD certified homes and residential facilities.
The guidance that providers and visitors must follow has been posted to the OPWDD website and we have provided them below. As outlined in the guidance, we will be required to follow specific protocols and guidelines for visitation that take into account:
- Disinfection and infection controls
- Staggered visits to ensure social distancing
- Documentation of who is visiting the home
- Adequate PPE
In addition, all visitors will be required to take part in symptom and temperature checks, wear a mask, sanitize their hands upon arrival and perform meticulous hand hygiene throughout the visit. Visitation is encouraged to occur outside the facility if weather permits, with masks worn by all parties and with social distancing in place.
As always, our number one priority as we resume visitation is to continue to ensure the health and safety of the people we support and the community at large. IAHD has begun to work on procedures that will ensure the health and safety of everyone. Families will receive a letter from us further explaining our plans to make reunions for friends and family pleasant and safe.
Our country is going through one of the most difficult times in our history.
As we approach the tail end of battling a pandemic which has killed more than 100,000 Americans, we come face to face with the harsh realities of racial and social inequalities plaguing our law enforcement and justice systems. The unconscionable and brutal killing of George Floyd as he repeatedly cried, “I CAN’T BREATHE” at the hands of a police officer, is a stark reminder that our nation has much more to do to ensure the human and civil rights of all Americans, particularly those of people of color. IAHD has always fought for the disenfranchised in our society; those who have been invisible and marginalized.
Today, we also stand with the countless victims who have suffered grave injustices
at the hands of those in power.
We stand with people of color who are the victims of racial bias in our law enforcement and justice systems every day. We stand with those protesting the evils of racism and the most recent heinous act which resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death.
IAHD will not remain silent, standing alongside those demanding systemic change.
However, we do not condone violence as a means to an end.
We must use our anger and passion to impact change in a productive and constructive way. It is our hope that this most recent tragedy ignites a passion and commitment to examine and alter the underlying systems which have led to suffering and countless unnecessary deaths.
IAHD stands ready to work with those committed to making these critical changes. We stand for justice for people with disabilities and people of color, but of course, social justice must be realized for ALL people who are marginalized in our society.
Chief Executive Officer
As we begin to look toward the future in our country, state and in our own personal lives, IAHD has begun to prepare for the re-opening of programs and offices. One thing is for sure; We will never go back to “business as usual.” We have lost people we support, staff and colleagues and we have also been impacted by the loss of long time beloved board member, Mary Bonsignore.
Mary was a fierce advocate for more than 50 years. She fought for the rights of people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, including her son, Michael.
Mary was a dedicated member of IAHD’s Board of Directors for decades and she was the co-founder of parent led groups, including United Today, Organize Parents of Impaired to Action (UTOPIA) and Parent Action Committee for People with Developmental Disabilities, Inc. (a/k/a “The Mom Squad”). She played a key role on The Bronx Developmental Disabilities Council, and chaired its Family Support Committee. Mary continued her advisory work with the NY State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, and Services for the Developmentally Challenged (SDC).
Her presence will be greatly missed, but her legacy lives on. Rest in Peace, Mary
Mary Bonsignore’s family is not having any services at this time due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Condolence cards can be sent to:
210 West 251 Street, Apt 5H
Bronx, New York 10471
Although this pandemic has wreaked havoc over the last 8 weeks, it has brought us together in new and innovative ways. Staff has pulled together and made sacrifices beyond the call of duty and families & loved ones are expressing gratitude and appreciation like never before.
Some Good News
- Nearly 90% of the staff who tested positive have recovered and returned to work
- The isolation sites we have set up are currently empty
- More than 2 weeks has passed since we have had a positive test for COVID-19
We realize we are not out of the woods yet, but we are grateful for a moment to take a breath, reflect and plan for the future.
No matter what comes our way, we remain IAHD STRONG!
It’s been 92 days since the first person tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S. and 51 days since the first positive in NY. It seems like an eternity when we could freely walk about in the community with no restrictions on doing the things in life that brought us together like dinner at our favorite restaurant or a movie with friends on a Friday night. Those events have turned into zoom dinners with friends and Netflix nights on the couch.
While the challenges we are facing as we settle into a new “norm” has left many feeling lonely and even depressed, for the people we support the challenge is even greater. Challenges that the staff face daily as they navigate the mental health impact of this pandemic on society and directly on the people they support. The continued struggle to keep up with the need for PPE is at the forefront of every conversation as we work hard to keep people healthy and COVID-19 free.
Out of this adversity, however, innovation and re-imagined system designs are born: telecommuting, telemedicine and other technological advances have smacked us in the face and have catapulted us into the deep end of the pool we once gingerly dipped our toe into for fear we weren’t ready to jump in. A few weeks back the conversation was strictly about number of hospitalizations, intubations and people in ICU. While we still have 65 people we support showing COVID-19 like symptoms, 17 of whom have tested positive (2 sadly passed away) and 46 staff who’ve tested positive (thankfully 19 have already recovered and returned to work), we see the flattening of the curve in NY as well as at IAHD, and we are grateful.
IAHD is fortunate to have been able to secure 20 rapid tests, which we will administer at one of our high risk homes. The test will not only determine if one is positive, it will also let us know if people were ever positive and if they have developed the antibodies to the virus, which would make them immune to it. This will help us make more informed decisions; Decisions that will help to minimize exposure to some of our most vulnerable individuals and to staff.
As noted today by Governor Cuomo during his daily briefing, NY state’s budget will be determined by Federal Funding. To date, the CARES Act contains no funding to offset shortfalls we will have to face in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. We, along with other providers and associations are making our voices heard in Albany. The National Governors’ Association is also asking for $500B in state aid to minimize cuts to much needed programs as well as hospitals and schools.
In the meantime, the amazing staff at IAHD keep showing up, on most days with a smile, and letting people know that through it all, we are here for them. In the end, that is what truly matters; that the people we support and care for know they are not in this alone.
IAHD in the News:
IAHD was recently featured on NY News channel 11 WPIX about how the organization has led the charge against the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected the Direct Support Professionals who continue in their commitment to the care of the people with I/DD who they support:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH the News 11 segment about IAHD’s fight against the CoronaVirus.
For Additional Helpful Information, Please visit these resources:
We are settling into a new normal at IAHD.
People are getting used to new routines. Unfamiliar faces are becoming new friends, talks of isolation and quarantine sites have become a part of our new world.
Life is somewhat solemn as we reflect on the lives of people who have succumbed to a disease that, only a few weeks ago, was something we heard about in the news, but couldn’t imagine would impact us all in such a catastrophic way.
To date, IAHD has had 13 people we support test positive for COVID-19. Two have passed away. The most heartbreaking thing to experience for many is the inability to pay homage to a loved one. Not being able to hold a service to come together & say our final goodbyes has devastated us. We look forward to the day when we can come together and pay tribute to those we have lost.
We have also had 35 of our HEROES, the staff who are on the front lines… Direct Support Professionals, Nurses, Managers and Assistant Managers and other support staff test positive. We are grateful that all are recovering and six people have already returned to work.
Although this has been a devastating few weeks, we remain hopeful for a better and stronger future. We have been and continue to show that human resiliency is strong and that in the face of adversity we overcome by banding together.
We, at IAHD, are grateful for the support we have received from our Board of Directors, our friends in the I/DD community and supporters just looking to give back. Thank you!
We pray that those of you observing the religious holidays find a moment of peace during Passover and Easter.
For more information on how the CoronaVirus has impacted our community, read The NY Times Article here: “It’s Hit Our Front Door: Homes for the Disabled See a Surge of Covid-19″
We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for acknowledging and thanking Direct Support Professionals. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their commitment every day.
They are not only contending with people who are ill, they have to work those people who do not understand the concept of social distancing or the importance of washing their hands and not touching their face. They must help people who want to go to their usual hair appointment or movie night or out to dinner understand why it’s not possible and then deal with the aftermath of those who present with behavioral challenges.
I appreciate them more than they will ever know and I salute them today and everyday! THANK YOU, Governor Cuomo, for remembering those unsung heroes who are also on the front lines!
Some heroes wear capes,
Some wear masks.
April 5, 2020
We continue to stay vigilant in these next few weeks as we hear news everyday about the impending apex of the Coronavirus. The peak that Governor Cuomo references during his daily briefings can send chills down your spine in anticipation of what may come; like a scene in a horror movie.
While we remain concerned, we have done much to plan for it and have prepared to the best of our ability:
1. We continue to ensure that sanitizing remains a top priority
2. As people test positive, they are moved into the day programs we have converted into isolation sites
3. We are doing our best to give as many staff as possible masks and we ensure that ALL staff working with anyone who is positive has adequate PPE to do their jobs
4. We ensure staff do not become complacent and continue to make use of UNIVERSAL PRECAUTIONS a priority. We know this is THE best defense against the spread of infection.
IAHD DSPs, Clinicians (especially nurses) Managers, Assistant Managers, Directors and Administrative staff have been working tirelessly to keep up with and adhere to the ever changing precautions reported by CDC and DOH.
To say they are doing a phenomenal job is an understatement as they have made personal sacrifices to remain committed to the people in our care and we are forever grateful and indebted to them.
SOME EXCITING NEWS!
Of the 10 people who tested positive for COVID-19 and have been hospitalized and discharged to the isolation site, 5 are slated to return home this weekend! This is exciting and somewhat concerning news as we are not sure how people will respond if exposed to the virus again. We are hopeful that they are now immune, but will continue to take precautions and monitor closely.
I could never have imagined being thrown into a crisis of this magnitude during the first 9 months of my tenure as CEO at IAHD. I guess this could be considered “baptism by fire.” I know that we will get through this and come out stronger than ever thanks to the caring, competent and committed team that is IAHD.
March 30, 2020
These past few weeks have been tumultuous, to say the least. The CoronaVirus outbreak has changed life as we all know it and it’s certainly changed the way we do business at IAHD.
Like the rest of the world, we have individuals we support and staff who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. We are doing all that we can to keep people healthy and to help those who have tested positive recover as quickly as possible. Thankfully, all individuals and staff who’ve tested positive are recovering.
We have been able to convert our Day Programs into isolation/quarantine sites, which have helped us to minimize the spread of infection. As people test positive or show signs consistent with COVID-19, we are able to isolate them in place or move them to an isolation/quarantine site. This has proven to be an effective way to minimize the spread of infection.
Currently, only staff who are working directly with people who’ve tested positive are required by OPWDD (per DOH guidance) to wear masks and other PPE. However, IAHD is working diligently to ensure EVERY staff working directly with people we support have masks, whether people have tested positive or not.
We ensure staff do not become complacent and continue to make use of UNIVERSAL PRECAUTIONS a priority. We know this is THE best defense against the spread of infection.
SOME GOOD NEWS!
- Governor Cuomo announced that The Department of Health (DOH) has developed a less intrusive saliva and short nasal swab test that can be self administered in the presence of health care workers.
- Tests will likely be available beginning next week.
The governor has also highlighted anticipation of a surge of positive cases in the next 2-3 weeks.
IAHD is taking aggressive measures to prepare and prevent that surge by:
1. Securing adequate PPE for staff
2. Continuing to educate staff and people we support
3. Ramping up our already rigorous sanitizing efforts
4. Isolating/quarantining people as warranted to prevent spread
All of us at IAHD are committed to be there for the people we support and their families.
I am truly grateful to the staff who sacrifice so much each day in commitment to our mission. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have been impacted by this pandemic around the world.