GSM Staff Updates

Posted on February 26th, 2021

2/26/21

There is much good news to share this week!  Nearly a year has passed since Covid related restrictions were implemented and we are finally able to loosen some of those restrictions. State, Regional and internal criteria have been met to restore indoor visits for the men.

In addition to the restoration of indoor visits, men who live in CILA homes will return to Day Program next week and community outings are being gradually and safely restored as well.  We are not yet able to restore in-person Day Program or off-site outings for the ICFs.

There have been no new cases at GSM in 3 weeks and County positivity has dropped low enough to allow us to reduce testing frequency.  For now, we will test every other week.  If positivity rates remain low, we will move to monthly testing.  Any men or staff displaying symptoms will still be tested.

Pre-shift screening will continue, but we are now able to discontinue mid-shift screening.  Men will continue to be monitored and vitals collected on each shift.  Mitigations like hand hygiene, mask use, social distancing, and surface disinfection will continue.

State, Regional, and internal metrics are monitored daily. Negative trends at any of those levels could necessitate regression to increased restrictions. A regression in reopening steps could impact the entire campus or be limited to specific homes.

In the event you have not been vaccinated and would like to be, please contact any supervisor.   You are still able to receive the first injection on March 8th. The second injection will not be available here, but I will contact the health department to assist with locating a second dose.  Vaccination is recommended even for those who have had Covid

We are all eager to move past the pandemic, the extra work it generates, and return to normal life.  Vaccination and decreasing positivity rates are beginning to make that possible.

We appreciate your continued work and care for the men as we work to safely begin lifting restrictions.

 

2/19/21

On Monday, we had our second of three Covid-19 vaccination clinic dates.  We are pleased to share that 90 men along with 67 direct and contract personnel received either their first or second injection, making our community safer.

If you got your first dose Monday, you will receive an appointment time for the second dose on March 8th.  If you have not vaccinated, it is not too late.  You can still get your first dose on March 8th.   We cannot guarantee a second dose, but will contact the health department to assist with seeking a second injection.

Vaccination is recommended even for those who have had Covid

Men and personnel vaccinated this week did well, some experienced expected side effects including sore arms, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache.  These are normal signs that your body is building immunity and go away quickly.

The CDC continues to study the vaccines and has a program called V-Safe to check in with people who have been vaccinated.  Participants receive personalized text check-ins for about a week after each injection and then weekly text check-ins for 6 weeks.  Link located here:  https://vsafe.cdc.gov/

There have been no new cases identified among men or staff in 2 weeks.  Positivity rates continue to drop, but we will continue current measures and testing to prevent resurgence.

We will return to Day Program, following Covid reopening plans, in the first week of March and are looking for ways to safely restore some community access.  At first, this will be places that can be privately booked or outings that do not require public interaction.

Your patience and support as we begin to move forward is greatly appreciated.  We recognize and appreciate your work in continuing to follow mitigation measures.

 

2/12/21

This week, the CDC provided updated guidance about the use of masks to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.  The basics remain the same:  masks should fit snugly, completely cover the mouth and nose, and be handled only by the ear loops, straps, or cords.  The optional use of two masks has newly been added.  The CDC advises that if you choose to wear 2 masks, you should use a cloth mask over a medical mask, NOT two medical masks.  There are a number of excellent tips and examples from the CDC.

Medical masks must be discarded after each shift.  If you choose to layer with a cloth mask, that must be washed after each shift.  We have a good supply of PPE.  A new mask is to be worn for each shift and must be changed if soiled or damaged.  We are also able to provide an N95 if you prefer, please ask the supervisor on duty at check-in.

As the coronavirus evolves, it is important that we continue to use masks and other PPE properly and pay careful attention to hand hygiene, social distancing, and cleaning/disinfection.  As CDC guidance changes, we will continue to adapt our practices.

New, more infectious and more dangerous strains of the virus are emerging and re-infections may soon become more common.   Three of our co-workers have already experienced re-infections.   In Illinois, new strains of the virus have now been identified.  22 cases of the U.K. variant and one case of the South African variant have been detected so far.  Early information from the CDC suggests that these strains spread more easily than the initial virus.

Again, you are encouraged to consider adding vaccination to your personal defense against the coronavirus.  If you want to get vaccinated, it is not too late, just contact the supervisor on duty.  Anyone receiving their first dose on Monday will receive their second dose at our final vaccination clinic on March 8th We will not have access to vaccination after that date.

2/11/21

Thank you to everyone who has committed to vaccination.  If you would like to start the vaccination series on Monday, February 15th and have not yet registered, please let any supervisor know by Friday morning.

If this will be your second dose, please bring the vaccination card you received at your first dose with you so that both doses are recorded on one card.  You should retain your vaccination card, it may be necessary in the future for travel or entry to events or venues.

Everyone who has registered already has received an appointment time.  Please arrive as close to your scheduled appointment time as possible to avoid crowding.  You may enter through the infirmary door or door near the Assembly Hall and go directly to the Assembly Hall.  Immunizers will be temp screening, so you do not need to stop at the lobby desk.  After your appointment is complete, please depart promptly to ensure parking availability and social distancing.

If you need to attend to other business in the building, please move your vehicle to the front entrance and get screened in the lobby.

If your appointment time is scheduled during your working hours, please let the supervisor on duty know first thing in the morning so that coverage can be arranged.

If you are undecided about vaccination, please take a few minutes to watch this video.  In the video, shared by the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, a DSP of 25 years shares her thoughts and experiences related to vaccination.  

We are happy to report that there have been no new cases identified among men or staff this week, but this does not mean that we can let our guard down.  Following the Covid mitigations for the last year has required extra work from all of us, and we appreciate everyone’s continued diligence.  Vaccination, combined with the things we are already doing, will bring us one step closer to the end of the pandemic.

Whatever your choice, thank you for your work and dedication.

 

2/5/21

Many people believe that if they have already had Covid-19, they have immunity and cannot get it again.  In recent weeks, there have been three re-infections diagnosed.   As new strains of the virus emerge, and re-infections become more common, we encourage everyone to consider vaccination.

This week, two personnel and five men have tested positive and one re-infection has been diagnosed.  There is no virus in the vaccine and it cannot infect a person with Covid-19 or cause a positive test result.   If an individual is exposed to Covid-19 prior to vaccination, or before full immunity is achieved, they may develop and test positive for Covid-19.

To get vaccinated, all you need to do is let any supervisor know and we will get you registered.  Appointments will automatically be scheduled for anyone who received their first dose on January 25th.  Whether February 15th will be your 1st or 2nd dose, you will receive your scheduled appointment time at the end of next week.

If you are considering vaccination and have questions or concerns about your specific situation, please reach out to Kristen or any supervisor.  There are resources available from many credible health agencies and we are often able to provide condition-specific information.  A quick call to your doctor is also a good idea if you have questions or concerns related to your specific situation.

Here is a brief video presented by the American Healthcare Association about the impact of vaccines in long term care settings.

We know that everyone works hard to keep GSM safe by following all of the mitigations in place including masks and other PPE, hand hygiene, extra cleaning & disinfection, and social distancing.  Please consider adding vaccination to your personal toolkit in the fight against this virus.

Whatever decision you make, your work and your dedication to the men is greatly appreciated!

 

2/1/21

The next Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic date is Monday, February 15th!

If the 15th will be your second vaccination date, you will automatically be provided an appointment time for the next clinic.  All you need to do is fill out a new form and turn it in to Bart or Kristen.

If the 15th will be your first vaccination date, please fill out the form and turn it in to Bart or Kristen.

Appointment times will be distributed during the week before the clinic dates.

Any supervisor can give out the form and they are available at the check in desk in the lobby as well.  It is 2 pages, so be sure to get both pages when you pick them up.

The CDC advises vaccination even if you had Covid previously.

For answers to this, and other frequently asked questions, be sure to check out the latest on the CDC website!

 

1/29/21

On Monday, we had our first Covid-19 vaccination clinic date.  The event was a success!  Thank you to everyone who chose to be vaccinated, for your commitment to protecting the health of the GSM community.

We are pleased to share that 87 men along with 45 direct and contract personnel received their first of two vaccine doses.  Be sure to look for photos on our Facebook page!

The vaccines are known to prevent symptomatic infection with Covid-19.  Until more is known about their ability to prevent transmission of infection, we need to continue doing all the things that we do now while we are at work.  I encourage everyone to at least consider being vaccinated. Vaccination is recommended even for those who have had a previous Covid infection.

Men and personnel vaccinated this Monday did very well.  Expected side effects of the vaccine can include things like pain at the injection site, swelling, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache.  These go away quickly and are normal signs that your body is building immunity.  Discomfort can be managed with over the counter medication if necessary.

The Pharmacy Partnership program provides us only three clinic dates. The next date is February 15. Access to vaccine for those who choose to delay beginning the series beyond the February 15th clinic date is unknown.

Anyone who received their first dose Monday will receive an appointment time for the second dose on February 15th.  If you were unsure initially and have reconsidered, please contact any supervisor by February 12th for the form to register.

Last week, we had one new case identified among personnel and two among residents.  There have been no new cases identified this week.  We conduct about 100 tests per week.  I appreciate your continued adherence to the mitigation measures in place like PPE use, hand hygiene, surface disinfection, and social distancing.  I recognize the extra work this takes.

The last year has been difficult for all of us and your perseverance has been inspirational.  There is now light at the end of the tunnel.  After the second vaccine dose for men, we plan to return to Day Program, with modifications to meet regulatory guidelines.  Together, by getting vaccinated and encouraging others to do so, we are another step closer to opening our community safely.

 

1/20/21

Our first vaccine clinic will take place on Monday, January 25th.  The clinic will begin at 10am and will be completed by 4pm.

To be vaccinated on 1/25/21, we must have consent forms and insurance card copies no later than Wednesday, 1/20/21.  We cannot process registrations for the 1/25/21 clinic after Wednesday, 1/20/21. 

If you have turned in consent forms and insurance card copies, please contact your supervisor for the link to register for an appointment time.

For personnel who are undecided at this time or prefer to wait, you have the option to begin vaccination at the next scheduled clinic.  The follow up dates have not been assigned yet. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine doses are administered about 3 weeks apart, which might help you in thinking things over.

Together, we have been on the front lines of supporting people with disabilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The COVID-19 vaccines are now here to help in the fight against this virus.  For many, this is good news.  We understand there can be some confusion and concern about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.  We hope that after this first vaccination clinic, we can maintain an open dialog and share our experiences with the vaccine and the process.

Vaccination is one tool to help bring an end to the pandemic and will be most effective when combined with the use of masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene. The vaccine provides a step in the right direction on the path back to normal operations; although it will take time to get back to “normal.” For the foreseeable future, all other mitigation measures will continue until health authorities advise otherwise.

If you have any questions, would like consent forms, or would like more information about the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, please contact your immediate supervisor.

1/20/21

While the availability of vaccines is important in the fight against this deadly virus, we understand there may still be concerns. Here is a link to a video that talks about the safety of these vaccines and how they were able to be developed quickly in response to a global pandemic.

You will still have time to change your mind if you aren’t sure yet.   Vaccine doses are administered about 3 weeks apart, so you will have about 3 weeks to think about it and talk to co-workers about their experiences with getting the vaccine.

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) from the CDC about the vaccine.

It is not often that we get things first in this line of work.  Right now, we have a valuable opportunity to access vaccine several months before we would otherwise be able to. We are very happy to be able to offer this, and encourage you to consider taking advantage of the opportunity.