Woman in a face covering behind table of donated supplies

Summit DD Coronavirus Safety Precautions and Health Measures

Wednesday, April 29, Update:

As we finish up our sixth week of the Ohio’s stay-at-home orders, we’ve learned quite a few things.  

First, all of us at Summit DD miss seeing the people we serve and families in person. We are grateful to be able to continue to stay connected through phone calls and virtual meetings, but nothing beats getting to see and talk to all of you in person.   

Next, we’ve seen just how innovative people, staff and providers can be when put into a challenging situation like this pandemic. People are supporting one another through donation drive-thrus, home-made masks, check-in calls and hand-made cards. All of it is greatly appreciated.  

Like you, our staff want to get back to their daily routines as quickly and safely as possible. Even as Governor DeWine announces the details of Ohio’s Responsible RestartOhio plan, we know that our idea of normal life will look different for the foreseeable future. Like you, we are keeping up with the Governor’s daily press briefings.  We are also participating on weekly calls with the County Health Commissioner to help shape our own guidance. We promise to keep you updated with any new information and we will keep working behind the scenes to put safety measures into place for the day we can see you in person again.  

Here is what we know as of April 29, 2020: 

  • Summit DD continues to be open and available to support people, families and providers. While our buildings will continue to be closed to the public, staff will continue to work at home through at least the end of May. Our commitment to meeting your needs hasn’t changed. Our leadership team will be working behind the scenes to create the plans that will keep you and staff safe as soon as we can resume face-to-face meetings. 
  • Day Programs remain closed but are working toward the future. While the public health order that limits Adult Day Services continues to be in place, Summit DD staff are working closely with providers. We are collaborating with providers to set up best practices, training and safety measures so that they will be ready as soon as programs are able to resume. 
  • Residential providers are doing a great job keeping homes sanitized and slowing the spread of the virus. To date, Summit County has not had any wide-spread, symptomatic cases in congregate settings. While this is good news, we want to stress, if you are experiencing any symptoms or have a positive test for COVID-19, please let your SSA, RSS or DS know immediately. Our staff have been hard at work to provide PPE, cleaning supplies and activities to homes.  We also understand you may miss seeing a loved one face-to-face.  We encourage you to work with the provider and the SSA to brainstorm innovate way you can stay connected to your loved ones. 
  • We can help. Don’t forget there are a number of community resources available to help with anything from food distribution and mental health support to stimulus payment FAQs to activities to stay busy during this time. Also, if you are in need of PPE or disinfecting supplies, Summit DD may be able to help. Please fill out our PPE request form and a staff member will reach out to you to discuss your need. And of course, your SSA, RSS or DS is a fantastic resourceThey know you and your family best, so reach out to them with any questions you may have. 

Above all, know that Summit DD is here for you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need us. We understand that times are difficult right now and want to help you navigate hurdles you might be facing. We CAN do this, and we WILL do this, TOGETHER. 


Tuesday, April 14, Update:

Most SSI and SSDI disability recipients are eligible for the stimulus payment. Check out our handy FAQ for more information and other resources that are available to you.


Monday, April 13, Update:

Due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, hospitals have made significant changes to their visitation policies. This may include caregivers. These modifications were created in accordance with the CDC and are meant to help keep patients, hospital staff and the public safer. To help you or a loved one know what to expect for any visit to the hospital, we’ve put together a quick reference sheet about visitation guidelines to local Summit County hospitals. Please be aware that it’s a good idea to check the hospital’s website, as guidelines could change daily.

Download the Summit County hospitals visitation guidelines


Friday, April 3, Update:

We want to thank you all for your continued vigilance during this trying time. Below is a message from the Superintendent (Download a copy of the letter here). We encourage you to continue to visit this page for updates and  tools.

Dear Friends,

I am certain you have all been following the coronavirus (COVID-19) news as closely as we have. Who would have imagined just a few weeks ago that we would be in these unprecedented times?  We want you to know that Summit DD remains open and available to support you and your loved ones for the entire duration.

Like you, Summit DD has had to make several adjustments, but we are prepared to see this storm through.  This pandemic is constantly changing and by the time this letter reaches your mailbox I am certain there will be even more changes.  However, we encourage you to stay connected with us for up to date information at SummitDD.org or through our Facebook page and use the “Contact us” or message features for any questions, comments or feedback.

While our buildings are closed to visitors, our team of dedicated professionals continue to carry out our very essential functions. Your Early Intervention PSP, RSS, or SSA will still connect with you via telephone and video conferencing. Investigative Agents continue to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect. Payments to providers continue to be processed. People continue to be found eligible for services. Please continue to reach out to your Summit DD contact should your support needs change.

We understand that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) social distancing orders and Ohio’s Public Health Order to stay at home have created many challenges for families and individuals we serve. That said, we also know that following these orders will save lives.

For families with young and school-age children, our team can help with home strategies, building routines, connecting you to resources available in the community, and many other supports. We have also assembled resources on our website, including social scripts that can help during this time.

For adults we serve, the Public Health Order to Prohibit Adult Day Support and Vocational Habilitation in Congregate Settings and the Order to Stay at Home have made it very clear that those we serve are particularly vulnerable during the pandemic emergency. Individuals should stay at home unless there is an immediate impact to their health and safety, as determined by the team process.

Throughout discussions with our local public health department, it is clear that community spread of COVID-19 is wide. Our congregate residential settings should be treated as familial homes and individuals who live in those home should follow the orders to stay at home. We understand that direct service staff will need to enter the homes to provide care and will do so under the guidelines of the CDC.  Words can’t express how grateful we are for the courage shown by these Direct Service Professionals.  We are working with providers to implement these safeguards and to provide PPE.

We also understand you may want to visit or bring your loved one home. Please understand that there may be more guidelines for visitors to keep everyone in the home safe from exposure which may include not being able to bring your loved one back into the home. 

This pandemic also impacts day programs as services are prohibited from being delivered in groups on 10 or more (including staff).  We have provided guidance to our SSAs that authorizations for Adult Day Support and Vocational Habilitation should only be provided in these settings when there is an immediate risk for health and safety, as determined by the team process. Many day service providers are offering day support in the home or through remote ways.

Your Summit DD contact will also be reaching out to you to begin to think about natural supports that may be available to individuals should you or a paid caregiver get sick.  This will help us plan ahead, before the surge hits us, to understand what capacity exists during the peak of this storm.  Please understand these efforts are in place to protect your loved ones, the people they live with, the caregivers that continue to show up to provide support and the families they go home to.

Lastly, we would love to hear about your achievements, as well as those of our staff and providers’ staff who are going above and beyond during this very difficult time. We can all use positive stories during this time.  If you have a story to tell, please email pr@summitdd.org.

Please take care of yourselves and your families, and remember we are only a phone call or a video conference away. While we are separated by physical distancing, we are connected through our shared commitment to help each individual reach their full potential, one person at a time.

Be well.

Sincerely,

John Trunk
Summit DD Superintendent


Thursday, April 2, Update:

As we all settle into new routines and adjust to this temporary way of doing things, we wanted to take a moment to thank everyone. We want to thank our staff for finding innovative ways to continue to support kids, families and adults. Throughout all of this, there are still children who need support, MUIs to be investigated, adjustments to services and requests for eligibility. While current conditions are not ideal, our staff (and the families they serve) have been adaptable and we appreciate that.

We appreciate you, the people and families that we serve. It can’t be said enough. We recognize that your worlds have been upended, yet you continue to move forward and work with us in this ever-changing environment. We know this isn’t easy, but your kindness and vigilance are appreciated. You have our word that we will do everything we can to support you throughout all of this and beyond.

Lastly, we want to thank the many Direct Support Staff (DSPs). We a fortunate here in Summit County to have such a broad provider network. These providers employ so many critical staff who are truly working on the front lines. They work hard to support people while trying to minimize exposure to this virus. These dedicated people go to work each day with the real potential that someone they serve may be sick. They put their own health at risk to ensure that those they support each day remain healthy and supported. Impressive, beyond words. You have our sincere gratitude.

It’s this kind of solidarity that leads to the most successful outcomes. This is a testament that we truly are in this together. As we work through these days and weeks ahead, we will continue to share any information we know, as we know it. Should you have any questions, please send us a message.


Tuesday, March 31, Update:

Direct support professionals (DSPs) provide critical services to Ohioans with developmental disabilities. The DODD has a library of information to help keep up to date with the latest and help you understand what this means for disability services. Learn more about the Governor’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act, DODD’s guidance and what this means for you or your loved one.


Wednesday, March 25, Update:

Life is different today than it was just a few weeks ago. With so many of the things operating differently now, you might be wondering who you can turn with questions or for help? Fortunately, there are a number of community organizations ready and willing to help. Together, we can do anything. Together, we will get through this.

See the listing of resources for anything from helping to managing anxiety, to getting groceries and household necessities.


Monday, March 23, Update:

Over the weekend, the Governor and the Department of Health (ODH) executed several orders that directly affect the lives of people with disabilities and their loved ones.

Please rest assured that the stay-at-home order issued on Sunday, exempted essential functions such as Human Services, like Summit DD and the many disability providers throughout Summit County. We want you to know that our staff will continue to provide the essential services that you or your loved one count on, while remaining committed to the safety of staff, providers and those we serve.

To further prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Dr. Amy Acton also issued an order to restrict group sizes at adult day services to no larger than 10 people, including the staff of the provider. These orders impact Adult Day Support and Vocational Habilitation services provided here in Summit County and throughout Ohio. This order goes into effect at 9:00 pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

What does this mean for my Day Program?

All of this changing information can be confusing and overwhelming; however, Summit DD and your provider will assist you through each step of this process. Your day program provider will be reaching out with details about any changes that you might experience to your day program. They will also work with both residential providers and SSAs regarding these changes as needed. Times like these call for flexibility as we navigate each person’s situation, but know that our SSAs will work with you and your team to ensure the continuity of your services, whatever those may look like based on these new directives.

Throughout these challenging times, the dedicated staff here at Summit DD remain committed to you and the many providers we work with. We will continue to support our provider community as we assist in their recruitment of qualified, caring people in an effort to avoid a shortage of Direct Support Professionals. Anyone interested in providing direct care is encouraged to contact DirectSupport@SummitDD.org. We will continue to connect those interested in becoming a direct service professional to local providers looking to hire immediately.

Even in challenging times, the spirit and dedication of those around us continues to inspire us. Thank you for your understanding and flexibility. It is positive attitudes that will see us through. We encourage everyone to continue to connect using phones, video conferencing and social media. We are in this together and those connections are more important now than ever.

Additional Resources

The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) has issued guidance and FAQs to assist families and answer your questions.

Questions? Please contact us with any additional concerns or questions.


Friday, March 20, Update:

Summit DD staff will continue to provide services and support to individuals, families and disability providers using remote work capabilities, in accordance with physical distancing recommendations from County and State health officials. Public access continues to be suspended to our three locations in Tallmadge, Barberton, and Cuyahoga Falls.

Summit DD is currently working to help disability service providers prepare for an expected shortage of Direct Support Professionals. Any resident impacted by unemployment and interested in providing direct care is encouraged to contact DirectSupport@SummitDD.org. Summit DD will connect you to local providers looking to hire these vital positions immediately.


Monday, March 16, Update:

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Summit DD will be restricting all public visitors. At this time, only Summit DD staff will be permitted to enter the building. We thank you in advance for your understanding. We will continue to monitor guidance from federal, state and local officials.


Sunday, March 15, Update:

On Sunday Governor DeWine announced further preventative guidelines for public spaces and gatherings. Therefore, effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Summit DD will implement a Remote Work period for staff such as Service and Support Administrators (SSAs), Referral and Support Specialists (RSSs), Developmental Specialists (DSs), Navigators and a number of other classifications in an effort to limit the number of people gathered at the Summit DD offices.

We remain committed to the safety of our staff while ensuring the continuity of your services. While your Summit DD contact may not be in a Summit DD building, they are available by phone, email or video conferencing. (You can find our SSA and RSS Directory by clicking here.)

We are continuing to monitor the situation as it develops, sometimes hourly, to adjust our responses to new guidelines. This is the best of what we know today and we will continue to communicate as we know more. We will continue to make contingency plans for conducting all of our essential operations remotely. We encourage all staff and the community to follow all of the recommended CDC, ODH and SCPH, guidelines and social distancing measures to protect yourselves and loved ones.


Friday, March 13, Update:

One thing Summit DD has learned about a pandemic outbreak, such as Coronavirus (COVID-19), is that information and recommendations come very quickly and change on a daily, sometime hourly, basis. Because of this, our leadership team has assembled daily briefings to ensure that our guidelines adhere to the newest information available and that we can keep those we serve and our staff up-to-date with vital information to make informed decisions. We will continue to post these updates as information becomes available.

On Thursday, March 12, 2020, Governor DeWine made several key announcements in hopes to shorten or lessen the impacts of the COVID-19 virus on our communities. Our Summit DD team also participated in a conference call with local health and government officials to coordinate efforts. The following are our updated guidelines we have at this time:

  • Impact of K-12 Closings: Many of you are aware that K-12 schools were ordered to close for three weeks, effective the end of school on Monday, March 16. This directive affects both parents of school age children on our staff as well as families that we serve. We anticipate staffing impacts and ask you to bear with us, as we will do everything we can to ensure the continuity of your services.
  • Updated Guidance on Home Visits/Team Meetings: As we mentioned previously, our goal is to minimize the risk to staff and individuals to the best of our ability. Therefore, we have asked staff to limit face-to-face contact as much as possible. At this time, we are encouraging staff to coordinate phone meetings and video conferencing in place of in-person meetings and visits. These efforts not only help protect our staff, but they protect you, your family and others that we serve with compromised immune systems.
  • Summit DD is currently open: Until otherwise advised, our buildings remain open for business. We have evaluated access to our building and taken steps necessary to cancel upcoming events and trainings at our locations. As such, there will be significantly less outside foot traffic on our premises.

We cannot stress enough that precaution is the best prevention for community spread. Thank you for your continued understanding during this evolving situation.

Prevention and Resources

For tips and information on the measures we are taking to help ensure safety of staff and those we serve, please see the information below.


Thursday, March 12, Original Post:

Like many of you, Summit DD has been monitoring the information and recommendations from health officials very closely.  As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve here in Ohio and across the nation, we want to do all we can to help slow the spread of the virus.

Our top priority remains the health and well-being of those we serve and our staff as well as the greater Summit County community. Using information from top health experts such as, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and the Summit County Public Health (SCPH), we put together the following recommendations to help you protect yourself, your loved ones, and our staff.

Prevention: 

According to health experts, COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person.

  • The CDC recommends regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Stay home if you are sick or if someone in your home is sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Events:

Using ODH guidelines on mass indoor gatherings and community events, we evaluated the events Summit DD is currently participating in or sponsoring. Based on the ODH recommendations, many events have been cancelled or postponed through the end of April. We encourage you to check our online calendar for updates and details. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our approach appropriately as the situation develops.

Home Visits/Team Meetings:

While we pride ourselves on the relationships we build with those we serve, in order to maintain the health and well-being of everyone involved, we asked our staff to reach out prior to any home visit or meeting to as a few questions. You may be asked questions such as: Do you or a family member have flu-like symptoms? Have you or a family member recently traveled to (or been in recent contact with people who have traveled to) China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy or Iran? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, we have asked that our staff reschedule your appointment. This extra step helps ensure not only the health of our Summit DD staff and their families, but also other families we serve who may have a loved one with higher medical needs or a compromised immune system. Additionally, you can request a virtual visit or meeting with your Summit DD contact via phone or video-conferencing applications like as FaceTime or Microsoft Teams. This option allows you to relay important information without an in-person meeting.

We cannot stress enough that if you or a family member are feeling ill that you should cancel any appointments with your Summit DD contact.

Cleaning Precautions:

Another way Summit DD is actively working to slow the spread of the Coronavirus is by following the CDC’s additional Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection recommendations. Our facility crews have heightened their cleaning efforts and frequency. We have provided additional signage and sanitation supplies in our common areas to help keep our work spaces clean and safe for employees and visitors.

Summit DD has taken extra steps to keep our workplace safe for our staff and those we serve. We will continue to be in contact with local health officials and make adjustments as more information become available. These are uncertain times, but we remain dedicated to our mission.

Additional COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Resources:

Below are additional resources to keep you informed with the latest information regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

© Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board