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Update on COVID-19


TO: All Families / Guardians / Staff

DATE: May 12th, 2020

FROM: Nathan Stallinga, Director of Development

SUBJECT: Update on COVID-19

Thank you ALL for your continued efforts, we know how difficult this time has been and continues to be. It is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts and continue to follow procedures throughout our facilities with guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), South Dakota Department of Health and statistical analysis.

With businesses beginning to open up, practicing social distancing while taking the added precautions of handwashing and wearing a mask remain vital components to peoples safety. We encourage staff to continue to limit their exposure

DakotAbilities remains committed to protecting the health of individuals we support, our staff who support them and our community.

A new way to connect, with support from our community, we have been able to purchase iPads for each residential location to aid in communication. While still apart, the ability to see your loved one is a powerful tool. We also want to recognize our HERO’s who continue to daily rise to the occasion and find new ways and activities that engage and support-from art and games to gardens.

Procedures outlined below will remain in effect until Tuesday, June 30th. We will reevaluate while continuing to monitor and adjust as appropriate noting the vulnerabilities of those we serve.

Social Distancing: As all of the issues surrounding COVID-19 developed, we chose to begin to shelter-at-home beginning on March 16th. The best tool with a virus that has no vaccination is prevention. The people we support continue to be served in their residential locations including group homes and apartments. The staff are assigned to specific locations to limit the contacts from outside. NO VISITATION both inside and outside the home remains in place and includes family, friends & guardians to additionally limit those potential infectious contacts.

Hand Washing & Cleaning: Our staff wash their hands often, especially at the beginning of every shift, with soap & water and especially after coming into contact with others, surfaces frequently touched, public places, blowing their noses, coughing or sneezing. We wash or assist the people to use hand sanitizer as well. Twice each day, at a minimum, we clean door handles, faucets & parts of the kitchen sink, knobs & oven handles on the stove, drawer handles, med carts, chairs couches, wheelchairs including trays & push handles, dining room chairs & tables, toilet handles & seats, etc.

Monitoring Conditions: We’re tracking the health of our staff twice each day for any change in their health because it could impact those we support. This includes temperature & the symptoms of COVID-19.

Masks and Personal Protective Equipment: All staff are required to wear a mask while working and a reusable cloth mask is acceptable where a location does not have anyone who may have tested positive for COVID-19. We’re actively working to obtain & distribute applicable masks, gowns & gloves which we may need.

Physician / Counseling / Dental Visits: As much as possible, we have rescheduled or deferred non-emergent visits. We’ve been encouraged to use telehealth appointments wherever possible.

Personal Travel: We require our staff to inform us, during this state of emergency, of when or where they may choose to travel. We are actively discouraging any travel away from work or home during the time of this pandemic. Staff may be put on a 14-day quarantine if they choose to travel.

Positive Activities: There are lots of great things that are still being done – here are a few:

  • Short walks in the neighborhood.
  • Van Rides, not leaving the van, properly spaced on the van.
  • No contact deliveries-items dropped off at the door. Staff will take items into the home.
  • People go with staff through drive-thru for food/beverage. Hands are washed promptly when returning home & prior to eating the food.
  • Time outside on patio/front porch.
  • Zoom / Skype / FaceTime with family members & friends.
  • Yard games.
  • Indoor games, crafts, Wii, etc. Washing hands before & after touching the game pieces.
  • Window decorating, cookie baking, dance-offs, movie marathons, etc.

Maintaining Contact: If your family member was receiving Day Services-Only, and since we have temporarily been sheltering-at-home, we will make weekly contact with your loved one to sustain the activities and follow their plan of service to the best extent possible. This applies to anyone from Residential services who may be staying with parents at home too.

Notifications: If your family member may have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, you will be contacted and made aware of our actions. As of May 12th, no one that we support at DakotAbilities has tested positive for the virus.

If you should have any questions, please contact your Service Coordinator or one of our Leadership Team members.

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