April 6, 2020
Dear Members of Staff,
I’m writing to update you all on our status regarding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). As I’m sure you’ve heard, this is a challenge everyone is facing; not just our field, or in Dutchess County, but across New York State and the rest of the country. The Arc NY has and is continuing to aggressively pursue PPE for us. In addition, our agency task force is reaching out to every other contact we can uncover to procure PPE.
To date we have asked staff in three residential sites to wear surgical masks we’ve provided during their shifts, with a new mask received every day. These sites include: PVI, Bessie Payne, and North Avenue where we determined there was the greatest health risk to the people living there. We have heard from governmental officials, particularly in New York City, that face-coverings should become more widely used, and we are taking that advice seriously. We continue to secure a stockpile of facemasks to implement this protocol across all our programs. In the meantime, we have ordered bandanas that should arrive on Monday as a temporary measure to do all we can do to protect you and the people you are supporting.
Our long-range plan is to secure reusable facemasks for everyone working in our residential programs. Staff will be expected to disinfect these facemasks daily to prevent the spread of the virus, and we will provide instruction on how to do so once they are made available to us. We are working to have these as soon as possible. In the meantime:
- We are asking ALL staff (including administrative staff that work at our Lagrange, Dover, and Patrick Lane sites) to wear a bandana or kerchief around their nose and mouth to help prevent the spread of the virus. This is an act to help protect YOU. These items are not meant to act in lieu of PPE, but are an interim measure that will help slow the spread of the virus as we work to procure needed PPE.
- We are working to purchase PPE for all members of staff and they are expected to arrive next week. In the meantime, we ask that you bring your own face covering and be sure that it is tightly tied around your nose and mouth. Please wash these bandanas/kerchiefs thoroughly in hot, soapy water after each use.
- PPE will be given to any staff working with an individual that tests positive for COVID-19.
A small group of agency “seamstresses” are busy making masks that we will distribute to staff as they become available. We are doing everything we can to keep you and the individuals we support safe, given the widespread challenge of supply procurement we face. There is not one moment in the day where we are not thinking about each of you. You are our front line and we are grateful for every hour and every day you give to support our folks. Thank you for your vigilance and your heart.
Executive Director, The Arc of Dutchess