Dear Search Team, Family Members, Guardians, and Stakeholders:
Before we get started…
On behalf of everyone here at Search, I hope you, your family and your loved ones are doing well and staying safe.
A little context…
Illinois saw its first confirmed COVID-19 positive case on January 24th. It was only the second case reported in the US at the time. As the pandemic escalated, on March 17th, Search closed all of its Adult Learning program sites and suspended community integration activities for all of its residents. The next day, we stopped allowing visitors into our residences and implemented regular temperature checks and health screens for our residents and staff. Three days later, the Governor enacted a strict shelter-in-place order until April 7th, which was later extended until April 30. On Saturday, it will have been four weeks since our residents have had to shelter-in-place in their homes. This milestone is a stark reminder of the seriousness and scale of the situation we are confronting. But, we are also reminded that in these hard times, when benevolent people join together, they can make a difference. We are so thankful for the dedication, compassion and ingenuity of Search’s heroes, our frontline staff. We are also incredibly thankful to our families, friends and partners for their many acts of kindness and support during these unprecedented times. We appreciate you.
As of April 10th, Search has had six staff and five residents test positive for COVID-19 for a total of eleven cases, affecting three CILA homes. Although we’ve experienced one new case since our last communication, we were heartened this week when a resident who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 complications was discharged and returned home to complete her recovery. We have one resident who remains in the hospital and our thoughts are with her and her loved ones. Though we are by no means “out of the woods” yet, we’ve had a bit of good news this week and we are so thankful.
New this week
As of April 7th, all Search staff are required to wear a mask when working. This includes all staff in our administrative buildings and supported living homes, except staff working in a home with an extended shift (live-in) model. Residents are not required to wear a mask unless they are displaying symptoms of illness.
Search staff must wear a disposable mask at all times in any home, with any staffing model that has experienced a positive case of COVID-19 or has residents that are displaying signs of illness. Residents should also be encouraged to wear a mask when they or others in the home are ill.
As we shared with you last week, we have been converting our CILA homes to extended-shift (live-in) models wherever possible. This is the absolute safest mode of operating for our staff and residents. As of April 10th, we can report that 23 homes are operating under this model. We anticipate moving another ttwo homes to this model this weekend, after which time, 25 of our 30 homes will be operating with live-in staff support.
Last week we announced that Search was purchasing Facebook Portal devices to be distributed at our homes so that residents, their families and loved ones, primary care physicians, clinical and nursing staff can all stay connected via video calling. Facebook Portal provides video chat capabilities via Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, augmented by a camera that can automatically track people's movements. As of April 10th, Search has deployed devices at four homes, and at our Clinical Services site in Mount Prospect for use by our nursing staff, for a total of five devices. By Monday the 13th, we will have devices deployed at five additional homes.
Our residents and staff continue to take part in daily “town hall” video conferences at home using Zoom, a video communications web app. This week, residents also used Zoom to take a “virtual tour” of the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Residents enjoyed a little underwater adventure via its Ocean Voyager cam. It was an enriching experience within the safety of the residents homes!
This week we were also blessed with our first day of warm weather in a long while. Our residents took advantage of this break from the cold to get outside in their backyards and enjoy some sunshine.
We’ve gotten some questions about whether or not our residents will qualify for economic impact payments checks through the federal COVID emergency relief package…
Here is what we know so far: Most individuals should qualify for payments automatically, with no action required, including individuals who are obligated to file taxes, as well as individuals who receive Social Security and Railroad benefits. It is unclear if this applies to individuals who receive SSI, but we are working to seek clarification. We have also been advised that individuals will have one year to spend the money before it will be counted as an asset.
Human Resources updates
Search’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP):
We want to remind our staff members that Search offers an Employee Assistance Program free of charge to all of our employees. This is a stressful time for everyone, and if you are feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to use this resource to connect with a Master’s level consultant to talk through the issues you’re facing. You can access up to three free consultations. Please know that your visits will be completely confidential. Search will not be notified if you choose to use this service. This program can also be utilized to find local resources for food, shelter, healthcare and other essentials.
Help is a phone call away at: 1 800 854 1446 (English)
1 877 858 2147 (Spanish)
If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Marcie Daly, HR Division Director at: 773 305 0740 x27