GSM Staff Updates
Today, follow up testing identified a positive test result in a resident for Covid-19. Our response plans have been implemented and the local health department has been notified. Follow up testing will continue.
Testing continues at recommended intervals. Testing frequency can range from monthly testing to twice weekly testing, depending on regional positivity rates and internal developments. Currently, local positivity rates indicate monthly testing. Testing will occur more frequently in some situations.
If you are considering vaccination, Riverside now has 6 locations (Bradley Immediate Care, Riverside Health Care of Bourbonnais, Riverside Out Patient, Coal City, Frankfort, & Watseka) for Covid Vaccinations. If interested, you can sign up through Riverside MyChart. If you do not have a MyChart account, you can go to https://www.riversidehealthcare.org/services/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine to create one. These locations will not take walk in patients, you must register in advance.
The Kankakee County Health Department is conducting a vaccination clinic at 1000 North Entrance Avenue in Kankakee, Illinois on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, Wednesday, May 19, 2021, and Thursday, May 20, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily in the First Church of the Nazarene. The registration link is available on their Facebook page and is linked here as well https://events.juvare.com/IL-IDPH/7vbvl-97/
Today, we were notified that an employee has tested positive for Covid-19. Our response plans have been implemented and the local health department has been notified. Follow up testing has been initiated and no additional cases have been identified at this time.
Staff testing continues at recommended intervals. Testing frequency can range from monthly testing to twice weekly testing, depending on regional positivity rates and internal developments. Currently, monthly testing of personnel is underway.
Identification of a positive case internally, or an increase in regional positivity rates can impact things like outings, visits, day program attendance, or other mitigation measures. Changes can impact all of GSM or specific homes or locations, depending on the circumstance prompting the change. If modifications are necessary, that will be communicated promptly to impacted men, personnel, or locations.
Right now, there are no changes to any of our practices at GSM. Men who attend KCTC will not attend for the next two weeks.
The Covid-19 crisis is stabilizing, but it is not over. If you are considering vaccination, a list of sites is linked here: https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/statewide-vaccination-locations. If you would like assistance to locate or schedule vaccination, please let your supervisor know.
While continuing to move forward and lift restrictions, it is important that we don’t let our guard down. We all need to keep following prevention measures like masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.
We understand that changes in the Covid crisis and mitigations are stressful for men, families, and personnel. We appreciate everyone’s support and flexibility while we continue to meet the evolving challenges of the pandemic.
With 94% of men and many of our personnel vaccinated, along with IDPH guidance, we have been able to relax many of the stringent mitigations implemented earlier in the pandemic. No new cases of the coronavirus have been identified among men in 12 weeks and only one among personnel.
This week, I am happy to share that many of the Covid protocols have been revised to reflect current IDPH guidance. Changes include streamlining many of the areas and removal of many of the extra tasks associated with mitigation. Notably, the procedures surrounding cleaning and disinfection tasks have been scaled back, as have meal procedures.
Also this week, men and their families will experience changes to our visit guidelines, including up to 4 visitors at one time for outdoor visits, children permitted for outdoor visits, some food items may be brought for residents (within specified parameters), and vaccinated men do not need to quarantine following any visit.
The changes we are able to implement at this time are due to revised IDPH guidance as more people get vaccinated. If you were not initially vaccinated, but have now reconsidered, a list of vaccination sites is linked here: https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/statewide-vaccination-locations. If you would like assistance to locate or schedule vaccination, please let your supervisor know and we will be happy to help you.
The Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet and remains a changing situation. We will continue to evaluate and adjust while moving forward. It is too soon to stop prevention measures like masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.
I know that there is still ground to cover on our return to normal, but am grateful for how far we have come. I appreciate all that you do and your continued dedication to meeting the needs of the men in challenging circumstances.
This week, the men celebrated Easter with afternoon Mass as well as a visit from the Easter Bunny to the group homes. The warm weather and some return to normal activities has been a welcome change for all of us, especially the men. Many men were happy to be able to spend the holiday weekend with loved ones after long periods of separation.
Just to reiterate what was said in last week’s communication, COVID is not over. Unfortunately, an employee tested positive this week. While not a residential or day program direct care worker, COVID response plans were implemented immediately and we contacted the health department. Following that positive test result, we have completed nearly 150 follow up tests of both men and personnel this week with no additional positive results.
We are grateful that we had early access to the vaccination which likely helped prevent an outbreak. Moving forward, we will work with the health department and local retailers to secure vaccination for any men and personnel. If you did not want to be vaccinated earlier and have changed your mind, please let your supervisor know and we will help you find an appointment.
We are all eager to return to normal, get rid of the masks, and attend parties and events. The ability to relax some mitigation measures is encouraging, but we cannot let our guard down just yet. The rate of new infections and hospital admissions has been steadily increasing in recent weeks. In Kankakee and Will counties, hospital admissions have increased by 60% in a few short weeks.
COVID is still a changing situation and we continue to actively monitor developments, both internally and externally and then adjust accordingly. While continuing to move forward, we all have to maintain prevention measures like masks, hand hygiene, social distancing, and frequent surface disinfection.
We are looking ahead with cautious optimism. We appreciate your continued patience and support. Change is often difficult and your perseverance in meeting this challenge has been truly remarkab
I hope this letter finds you in good health and good spirits. The men are enjoying the return to some of the things they enjoyed before the onset of the pandemic, such as home visits, day program, outings, and weekly mass. I appreciate your work to make these things happen! No new cases have been identified among men or staff in nearly two months, due in part to vaccination and compliance with prevention measures.
This week, a fully vaccinated resident who previously had Covid was hospitalized for an unrelated medical condition. Testing at the hospital is standard procedure and a positive result was noted, which is an expected outcome for up to 90 days. We contacted the health department for guidance and implemented our Covid response plan while awaiting reply. The health department confirmed that this positive test result is not reflective of a new infection. Therefore, measures such as serial testing of men and staff, isolation, quarantine, or use of full PPE do not need to be implemented.
As the circumstances and guidance related to Covid continue to evolve we maintain regular contact with health authorities. We participate in weekly training by the Illinois Department of Public Health to ensure that our practices remain current and in compliance with requirements. We are fortunate to have a good working relationship with the Kankakee County Health Department; they are responsive and helpful when specific questions arise.
Hopefully we are nearing the conclusion of the acute phase of the pandemic, but we know it is not over yet. The health and safety of residents, staff, and visitors remains our utmost priority. Men and personnel are screened on each shift daily and testing plans are implemented in accordance with IDPH guidelines. We continue to keep up with the basics of prevention, including the use of masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene. Please be assured that we continue to monitor the COVID situation daily, both internally and at state and regional levels. We have response plans in place to address changes as they occur.
I wish you and your families a happy and healthy Easter and encourage everyone to celebrate safely. As always, we appreciate your unwavering support throughout this evolving situation.
Despite the blustery weather, we have had another good week with no new cases. Decreasing positivity rates in the community, along with the apparent effectiveness of vaccination, are allowing us to continue to move forward. Thank you to everyone for your continued work to keep GSM safe for all of us.
We are proceeding to Phase 3 of reopening, restoring in-person Day Program and some off-site outings for men who live in ICFs. The men who work at KCTC are scheduled to return to their jobs on Monday.
Men have eagerly awaited restoration of home visits and same day outings with family and friends and I am happy to let you know that we are making significant progress in that area.
Fully vaccinated men who live in CILA homes may go on home visits or same day outings with family or friends. Men who live in ICF homes and unvaccinated men who live in CILA homes may go on same-day outings with family members with proper screening and mask use. Men who live in the ICFs will still need to quarantine after overnight home visits.
Families or friends who take men on overnight or on same day outings will have procedures to follow to ensure the safety of residents and staff. When picking up or returning men, visitors will need to be screened first. Men will be screened upon return. Family or friends may not enter homes when picking up or dropping off men, unless a supervisor has been advised that there is a scheduled indoor visit.
All visit guidelines are available in the Covid binders in the group homes, as well as on the employee portal of our website. It is password protected, so if you do not have the password or have forgotten it, please reach out to your supervisor or email email@example.com.
I appreciate your patience as we continue to work through the reopening process. We are committed to moving forward safely. We will continue to adjust and adapt as guidance from health authorities changes.
It has now been a full year since Covid required us to close the homes and campus to visitors, discontinue all non-essential trips, and discontinue in-person Day Program. While beginning to reopen is a welcome change, I know that it presents new challenges in your daily work life and I appreciate your efforts for the sake of the men.
Your help in remaining flexible when changes occur will be essential. We will need your help in identifying and sharing ways to resolve challenges, communicating clearly and calmly with the men, and helping them manage emotions and expectations. If we manage our own emotions and choices, as well as communicate effectively, it will be easier for the men to do so as well.
Day Program is operating on a modified schedule, outings are being planned, and we are working with KCTC to plan for the men who work there to return to their jobs as soon as possible. Beginning on March 28th, weekly Sunday Mass will resume with services to be held in the afternoon. Group homes will have designated areas to sit in the chapel.
In preparation for our Virtual Brunch Auction next month, the Chorus and Signers group is safely practicing for their performance. We look forward to this special event, marking Good Shepherd Manor’s 50th year of service for the men behind our mission.
We have had no new cases in over a month and county positivity remains low. We will now move to monthly testing for staff. New hires are tested on their first day of employment.
This week, we had our final vaccination clinic date provided through the Pharmacy Partnership program. If you or a family member is seeking vaccination, here is a link to help identify a location near you: https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/vaccination-location
You have all been incredibly resilient throughout a most difficult year. Your support and patience is greatly appreciated. I am confident that together, we will move forward safely. When the pandemic ends, things will look different than they did before, but I know that they will be great.
Spring is a season of new beginnings and we have had many to be grateful for this week. On Wednesday, under bright sun and mild temperatures, the men returned to Day Program. It was a wonderful sight to see men and staff back at the Manor! Everyone did a wonderful job of following the Covid modifications and adapting to different procedures.
Later this month, we anticipate a return to a full Day Program schedule, including men who live in the ICFs. We have met with KCTC leadership to begin planning for men who work there to return to their jobs later this month. Staff and men have begun to plan secure community outings and are very excited to be able to do so again. In coming weeks, we also expect to restore weekly Mass services – another welcome return to normal.
Indoor visits have been restored and have guidelines in place to ensure the safety of men, staff, and visitors. Until more is known about the ability of vaccines to prevent transmission, as well as the impact of emerging strains of the virus there is no change to home visit or on site visit procedures, regardless of vaccination status.
There have been no new cases identified within the last month among staff or men. While progressing through reopening steps, we monitor State and County level metrics daily and will continue to test as indicated by positivity rates in the community. We will have our third vaccination clinic date next week, March 8th, to finish the series for men and staff needing their second dose. If you decide later that you would like to be vaccinated, appointments are available through the Kankakee County Health Department for healthcare workers. Registration is linked here: https://bit.ly/3hTUFYJ
Your perseverance and commitment to the men and the Manor throughout the last year has been nothing short of remarkable. I am so happy to finally be able to announce some loosening of the restrictions that have impacted all of us for the last year. We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and move forward slowly and safely.
Your unwavering support while we continue to navigate this evolving situation is deeply appreciated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.