As Ohio eases back into operation, so does UDS, with calculated moves to keep employees and the individuals we serve safe and healthy.
The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) has been issuing guidance to agencies like ours indicating what services can be provided, how, when and to whom during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting mid-May providers began applying to DODD for approval to begin implementing small group center-based day services. This process involved assuring DODD that as a provider we would take all necessary health and safety precautions, implement new procedures and serve individuals in a prescribed setting. There can be no more than 10 people in an area, including staff members. Each area must have its own exclusive entrance/exit, restroom and eating area. To reduce exposure, no one other than the 10 individuals assigned to the area are permitted to have access to the area. Transportation Services must ensure a 6-foot distance between riders and the driver during transport. Temperature readings are checked prior to boarding a vehicle, as well as at the time of arrival/departure of program area.
The DODD approval process included a virtual tour of all the areas where we intended to provide services. UDS approval was quick with no recommendations. We have identified eight exclusive use areas at Main Street and two exclusive use areas at Firestone Park. Our motto has been to start “low and slow” when initiating day services again. On May 28 we started three groups at Main Street—one at Vocational Services, SociAbilities and BraVo!— and one group at Firestone Park. Once we feel comfortable with the implementation of processes and safety protocols, we will add another group and slowly build to our maximum of 10. Serving 80 individuals is about 25% of the census we served prior to March. Returning to center-based group services is not beneficial to everyone at this time. Each consumer’s team must complete a risk/benefit assessment to determine if returning to a small group setting is appropriate for him/her and his/her household. For those who are not able to return at this time, we will continue to offer virtual programming and 1:1 community-based activities.
We are looking forward to getting individuals back and engaged in programming.