July 17, 2020
On July 10th, OPWDD released interim guidelines authorizing providers like Wildwood to begin providing Day Services at their sites beginning July 15th. This was an important step in restoring our ability to provide people the supports they so desperately need and we are working tirelessly to interpret and come into compliance with the complex, 10-page guidance document that was issued Friday night. There are several points we want to highlight with you as we work towards this next phase:
- Agencies across the state were caught completely off guard by this announcement from OPWDD. Right up to July 10th, guidance had been that this may happen in late August/early September and Wildwood and others were actively engaged in workgroups developing what Day services could look like in this “new world”. Given this sudden change by OPWDD, we ask for your continued patience while we work to drastically speed up this timeframe and comply with all of the regulations given to us. In fact, OPWDD just issued updated guidance late yesterday with changes to their original guidance just a week ago, so this is a rapidly changing process.
- COVID-19 remains a very real presence and risk in our communities. Therefore, please know that all of our planning is centered around safety of all stakeholders and striking a balance of safety with the very real need for people to receive the supports they need. As we move forward, everything we put into place may need to change and evolve based on the current numbers of cases in our communities.
- We are going to need you as our continued partners throughout this process. Our ability to minimize risks of infection, and therefore keep our sites open, will rely in large part on open dialogue between us in terms of any possible exposures. It will also be critical for all of us to avoid high risk behaviors when not in program (unnecessary travel, especially to hot spots and avoiding large gatherings, etc.). This will be key.
- In addition, New York State and OPWDD have removed the special funding they had put into place for providers over the last 4 months to help offset the losses in revenue from having to downscale our supports. Because of this significant change, it is imperative that everyone we support continue to engage in the activities offered to the extent they are able. Please share your thoughts and ideas as to how we can continue to adapt our offerings to encourage the maximum levels of engagement from those we support.
- We will continue to offer virtual and community-based services in addition to the site-based options so that there are multiple ways for people to be supported, depending on their preferences and ability to conform to the requirements to wear masks and social distance at sites. We will be exploring these options with you over the coming weeks as we continue our planning. This exploration will initially include your ability to transport your loved one due to capacity restrictions being put on providers within vans and buses.
We do not yet have an “opening date” identified but will continue to communicate regularly over the coming days. We have made a lot of progress since last Friday’s surprise announcement and anticipate being able to have a complete plan for reopening our sites, including a start date, very soon. When we have that more comprehensive plan, we will share that out so that you have all of the information you need to work with us on the best ways to support your loved one. Thank you for understanding our need to get this right, and we are always available to discuss any questions and concerns you may have.
Strategic Director of Vocational, Day & Community Supports
Director of Day Services