Dear Families, Caregivers, Staff and the People We Serve,
A week ago we advised that the Coronavirus is in the news and that here at CVS we have taken early precautions such as ensuring that everyone washes their hands when they come into the building and that hand washing is repeated often. Further, we are disinfecting touch surfaces at CVS several times a day.
Since that time, we have been monitoring the news. In just the last few days the World Health Organization has declared the Coronavirus a pandemic, the situation in Italy has become dire with the healthcare system overwhelmed, the US has restricted travel from Europe, events are being postponed such as the Inclusion BC Conference, the Junos, and the NHL & NBA seasons. Moreover, we have heard that Tom Hanks and his wife have contracted the virus and so has Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie. Each day the number of cases grow and spread. It has become clear we have a serious situation and it is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to help “flatten the curve” of the infection rate so that our health care system does not become overwhelmed.
Our leadership team has been meeting, I have been consulting with my colleagues at other agencies, and I have been talking to our Board Chair to develop an appropriate response to the pandemic.
We are immediately implementing “social distancing” policies:
- Reduce the number of people that gather at our inclusion programs location on St. Johns. We are distancing each program from each other and we are creating smaller groups. We are actively going to work to keep the programs separated.
- Sending the staff at our administration offices home to work in order to free up space to move people from our community inclusion programs into smaller groups.
- Community inclusion staff have been instructed to stay away from places where a lot of people gather (library, community centers, pools, etc.) and where the environment is high risk because of the inability to keep the areas sanitized (elevators, malls, sky train and stations). Walks in the park and other activities in open spaces are being encouraged.
- Families are being contacted by the supervisors advising them of the changes to the way their family members will be supported and to receive any feedback. It is foreseeable that we may have to ask your loved ones to stay home so it is prudent to do some planning at home in case that happens.
- Special arrangements are being made for individuals with complex health issues.
Further, we also advise the following:
- People who have travelled and are returning from affected areas in the world should self-isolate to not spread the virus. Just yesterday, the Government of BC advised that people should not travel out of Canada. If they do, they could face a 2 week quarantine upon return. If you have travelled outside of Canada or have been in direct recent contact with people that have travelled in areas with travel advisories (or on any cruise ships), please check with the health authority and help us by notifying CVS Leadership (Manager / Coordinator) immediately.
- If you have sick (flu-like symptoms: cough, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing), please do not visit a CVS location or any CVS supported individual.
- If you have medical concerns that you may have the Coronavirus, please contact your medical professional / 811 immediately to discuss the symptoms and inform CVS immediately.
- Please reinforce with the people you care about the importance of hand washing several times a day and not touching their face.
- Continue to sanitize touch surfaces several times a day.
- We are asking families of the people we serve to keep your loved one home if they are sick.
- Change social greetings to the “foot tap” or “smiles” instead of shaking hands.
- We have postponed all large staff meetings, coffee houses, social nights, pub nights, public transportation, swimming and bowling. Starting Monday the smaller events such as men’s night, women’s night and music are cancelled
- Our leaders at CVS will meet often (virtually) to discuss our response to this emerging crisis. Please know that we are trying to strike the right balance of taking precautions, undertaking prudent advance planning and at the same time not overreacting or invoking fear and panic. At the same time we believe it is crucial that we take active steps now. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.
- Finally, a word to our staff and caregivers. I know that this situation is very stressful for all involved. I want you to know that you are all appreciated for the work that you do to help the people we serve to have good lives and to keep them safe. Please know we are going to do the best we can to minimize the impact of this situation on the staff and caregivers at CVS. While much is unknown about how this will unfold it is important that you know that CVS will be supportive throughout this crisis. Please feel free to give me a ring if you have any concerns.