During these troubled times

June 3, 2020 | Comments Off on During these troubled times
multi hands embrace

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.

Omayra Andino
Chief Executive Officer

Looking toward the Future

May 18, 2020 | Comments Off on Looking toward the Future
person jumping across revine

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:
Anthony Bonsignore
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!

Omayra Andino

Our New Normal

April 20, 2020 | Comments Off on Our New Normal
Color photo of tree in bloom over empty branches

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.

Omayra Andino

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:

NY State Department of Health

Center for Disease Control


An Update from IAHD’s CEO

April 11, 2020 | Comments Off on An Update from IAHD’s CEO
Overcase sky transforms into sunny day

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.

Omayra Andino

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″

A Message from IAHD’s CEO:

April 8, 2020 | Comments Off on A Message from IAHD’s CEO:
NY Gov. Cuomo giving thanks to Direct Service Workers

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.

Omayra Andino

IAHD’s Latest Update to CoronaVirus COVID-19

April 5, 2020 | Comments Off on IAHD’s Latest Update to CoronaVirus COVID-19
Medical Professional holding stethascope

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. 


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. 

Omayra Andino 

IAHD’s Update to CoronaVirus COVID-19

March 30, 2020 | Comments Off on IAHD’s Update to CoronaVirus COVID-19

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.


  • 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.

Omayra Andino

IAHD’s response to COVID-19

March 23, 2020 | Comments Off on IAHD’s response to COVID-19
Chemistry lab equipment, periodic table and compound elements

March 23, 2020:

While we are responding to Executive Orders from the Governor and OPWDD guidance, IAHD’s highest priority continues to be the health and safety of individuals, families and staff as well as the community at large. We continue to be in touch with OPWDD, the NYC and State Departments of Health (DOH) and the CDC and are following their recommendations. As previously stated, we continue to use infection control procedures to minimize the potential for the spread of infection.

It is important to note that while many of us have likely been exposed to the virus and may not know it, many that contract the virus will have mild to moderate symptoms that will resolve in a week or two. A much smaller number of people will need access to appropriate treatment from medical professionals.

Not surprisingly, we have three individuals we provide supports to who tested positive for COVID-19 at IAHD, whom are currently hospitalized. One staff has also tested positive. The affected individuals are receiving excellent care and the staff is at home recovering and doing well.


  • SUSPENDED AS OF MARCH 18: IAHD Site-Based Day Habilitation programs, without walls and prevocational programs began temporary suspension effective March 18th.
  • People who live in IAHD residences are being provided with extra activities in the residence and have Day Hab staff working in the residences to support those individuals.
  • For people that reside in the community with their families, IAHD staff will be contacting every family to review their needs and to assess our ability to provide supports.
  • We continue to follow the guidance from OPWDD in that only essential IAHD staff will be permitted into our programs. Families, vendors and others will not be permitted to enter until further notice.
  • Any staff entering into the programs will have their temperature checked and be checked for other COVID-19 related symptoms (cough, shortness or breath, fever) and will not enter the program until tested by a healthcare provider and/or when symptoms subside.


The Governor has issued an Executive Order designating people working at OPWDD related organizations as essential personnel. We have worked on providing eligible staff with staggered schedules to minimize physical contact while ensuring the people we support obtain the essential services and resources needed for care. We are also offering the ability for staff to work from home when possible.

For questions about health and personal issues, call your doctor and/or contact the Department of Health at 888-364-3065 or at

This continues to be and will likely be a challenging time for us for several months. While we are asked to maintain “social distancing,” I urge us to practice spatial distancing, but to maintain social closeness. It is now that we should practice random acts of kindness and find time to reach out & call loved ones, friends or others we know who live alone. If ever there was a time for us to band together as a community, now is the time!

We will continue to keep you updated as changes occur.

Omayra Andino

For Additional Information, please visit the following:

Department of Health 24/7 Hotline: 1-888-364-3065
General Information and Updates

General Information and Updates
Informational Videos
How to Protect Yourself

Hotline Number 211
Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus Update

March 19, 2020 | Comments Off on Coronavirus Update
Washing hands with soap and water.

IAHD remains committed to providing you with up-to-date  information as promptly as possible. The health and safety of ALL members of our community is a priority. Our Senior Leadership team is working 24/7 reporting and acting on all issues pertaining to this crisis.

We are regularly reviewing our response plans and procedures to ensure the health and safety of the people we support, families and staff, while minimizing disruption of our operations, and continue to emphasize best practices for infection control.

IAHD is monitoring information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the New York Department of Health (DOH), and working directly with The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to address safety protocols as they evolve. IAHD operated Day Programs remain closed until March 31, 2020 and we will provide updates as changes occur.

In accordance with requirements from regulatory agencies and public health experts, IAHD is currently prohibiting all visitors, including vendors  to enter our programs until further notice.

The following procedures have been put in place during these challenging times:   

  1. People who live in any of our residences, will be provided with Day Services in the residence in which they reside.
  2. For those who reside in the community with their families, we will share access to available resources and day supports. Additionally, IAHD will continue to explore whether or not we have the resources available to provide supports our resources within the home for families that might prefer this option if our resources allow.
  3. Essential administrative functions will continue.

IAHD continues to take the necessary steps to keep our community safe. Deep sanitizing continues to take place daily using CDC/EPA approved products, sanitizing of the common areas and offices and ALL IAHD locations, including the residences.

As directed by (OPWDD), only essential IAHD staff will be permitted into our programs. Families, vendors and others will not be permitted to enter until further notice.

We are asking all staff to please be mindful of the following precautions, recommended by the New York State Department of Health, to minimize contracting the Coronavirus which are very similar to the usual steps we take to avoid the cold and flu:

  1. Stay home if you are sick
  2. Keep a safe distance from others (min of 6ft.)
  3. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue (preferable) or sleeve when sneezing or coughing — do not use your hands
  4. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  5. Do not touch your face (eyes, nose & mouth)
  6. Do not shake hands with others. Instead, wave or elbow bump.
  7. If you have family or friends who are elderly, have compromised immune systems or chronic respiratory or coronary issues, do not visit them if you feel sick. Stay home and keep your loved ones safe.
  8. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or disinfecting wipes.

This is an opportune time for us to show our strength and unity as a community. We hope that our continued communication and transparency helps to keep us all grounded during this difficult time.

Omayra Andino

For additional information, please visit the following websites:

Department of Health 24/7 Hotline: 1-888-364-3065
General Information and Updates

General Information and Updates
Informational Videos
How to Protect Yourself

Hotline Number 211
Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

IAHD responds to the impact of Coronavirus COVID-19

March 17, 2020 | Comments Off on IAHD responds to the impact of Coronavirus COVID-19
3D Rendering of the Coronavirus COVID-19.

As we continue to respond to the impact of Coronavirus COVID-19, IAHD continues to follow guidance from NYC and State Departments of Health (DOH) and the CDC and are closely following their recommendations.

The Day Hab Programs are closed effective today March 17th 3pm. Staff will be redeployed to work with the people we support in their homes where possible. As more info is received, we are taking additional steps to safeguard individuals and staff alike.

At IAHD, our business is anchored in caring for people as we support them. Therefore, it is necessary for staff to be available to work with them. We continue to take all precautions to protect staff and those they care for through additional sanitizing and education about Coronavirus COVID-19.

Our offices will remain open and adjustments will be made to ensure employee safety. We ask that all staff who are sick remain home. Even after the closing of programs, we request that if any staff is showing symptoms of illness or has had contact with someone under investigation for, or diagnosed with the Coronavirus (COVID 19), please immediately inform HR.

During these challenging times, we are working together for the people we support, and their families as well as staff. We will keep you informed when changes occur as they are occurring quickly.

Additional Resources & Information: