May 13 Letter to Families

May 13, 2020

Dear Families,

As you know, OPWDD issued directives effective March 18, 2020 that suspended all day programs and prohibited visitors at our residences, except when clinically or medically necessary. Additionally, another directive effective March 25, 2020 suspended all community outings and home visits for all residential sites. I know that these last two months have been challenging for you. They have been for me as well, as I miss seeing our folks too.

In an effort to keep everyone connected with their family members, I issued iPads to all of our homes so that Facetime could be utilized for communication. Additionally, I provided iPads to families who requested them because they did not have the equipment of their own to communicate in this way. I, and other administrative staff, have also been reaching out to family members to offer assistance in any way we can. If we have not connected with you yet, please feel free to reach out to me directly if there is anything we can assist you with. I can be reached via email at vfedericoni@autism-services-inc.org or by phone 716-631-5777 ext. 318.

We have also been holding weekly Zoom meetings with our movement and Yoga instructor, our Day Hab Without Walls team, and our self advocates. It has been wonderful to see everyone interact in this new way and be able to connect with their friends during this difficult time. We have talked about the current situation, what we can do to protect ourselves, and how we can keep busy while at home.

Staff at the homes have also been encouraged to safely take people out into the community for walks where social distancing can be maintained. While the weather has not cooperated for this to be a daily occurrence, I know that staff are doing their best both in the home and outside to keep our folks engaged and active while at home.

As parts of the state get ready to re-open on May 15, we are also getting ready. Our Crisis Management Team continues to meet regularly to review all directives from the state and local level. We are examining ways to ensure our programs offer a safe environment in this new normal. We are reviewing our COVID-19 Response Plan to identify everything necessary to keep everyone safe and healthy when our programs do re-open. Lastly, we are actively monitoring our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies to ensure we can provide the necessary equipment for staff and individuals if masks will continue to be required.

I cannot express how much I appreciate your patience as we have navigated this crisis together. It has not been an easy time for anyone, and we are all doing our best, and will continue to do so. I look forward to when I can notify you that our programs are opening back up and we will all be together again. I will be monitoring the directives issued by OPWDD closely so that as soon as we can re-open safely, we will.

Lastly, I wanted to acknowledge and recognize our staff. From our DSPs, nurses, facilities team, and management, I have never been more proud of the dedication of our employees. In big and small ways, they have stepped up to this challenge without hesitation and I have taken comfort knowing that our all of our folks are in such great care.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Sincerely,
Veronica Federiconi
Chief Executive Officer