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COVID-19 President Update: April 11

Dear Cushing Community,

I hope and pray that you and your families all continue to stay safe and healthy.  While our entire nation is feeling the weight of social/physical distancing, I think this week was especially hard for our community given Passover and Easter holidays.  We are so fortunate to have access to technology that allows us to enjoy time with family and friends from afar.  Many of our individuals have participated in virtual Passover celebrations and have plans to virtually see friends and family for Easter. Our staff are also working with those we support to plan special meals and celebrate and share their families’ traditions with their house mates. We are reminded that while we are all physically apart, staying connected to our values and to each other is essential. 

We are fortunate to report that Cushing has no confirmed COVID cases at this time. We are incredibly grateful for the health of those we support and attribute this to the vigilant safeguards we have put in place to minimize our communities exposure.  We continue to have mandatory daily temperature checks, thorough cleaning and disinfecting of homes and program areas, and have adjusted our staffing to limit exposure.  We continue to remind our staff to be responsible during their time off and adhere to social distancing and accessing protective equipment while out in the community.  We also remind staff to stay home if they are sick and to report any potential COVID 19 exposure to their supervisors.

Access to PPE equipment has been a challenge for not only health care professionals but for all of the agencies supporting individuals with IDD. I am happy to report that we have joined forces with other DDS agencies and Chapter 766 Schools and were able to access PPE devices that have been nearly impossible to find. We are incredibly grateful for our relationships with MAAPS, ADDP, NE Arc & Providers Council. As a result of these collaborative partnerships, we will have the following supplies delivered in the next 2 weeks:

  • N95 Masks (arriving Wednesday)
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Simple face masks
  • Face Shields
  • Hand Sanitizer

In addition to paper and N95 masks, we have also had many Cushing staff and community volunteers sewing reusable cloth masks for our staff and those we support.

I wanted to share some important information regarding the health and safety of your loved one should they need to access the hospital. 

Below is a link to contact Governor Baker in response to the “Crisis Standards of Care” that was issued on April 7th. This advisory was developed with good intentions however, we have been advised that there are some notable gaps that could unintentionally be harmful to individuals with IDD.  The link below is an opportunity to make sure your loved one is not discriminated against in the event that we are faced with a situation where there is a lack of ventilators. Additionally, the letter provided in this link advocates the need for individuals with IDD to have a caregiver or guardian accompany them for hospital stays. Right now, if an individual with IDD is admitted to the hospital (for any condition, not necessarily COVID), they cannot be accompanied by a caregiver or guardian. It is a hospital by hospital decision, but most are not allowing anyone else in unless it is an end of life situation.  The attached form and link below are forms that would be helpful to hand off to the medical staff as well as to include all additional pertinent medical information.  We will be completing these forms for those individuals still within our care in the residential programs.

Please click on the link below to contact Governor Baker, it is quick and easy and will strengthen our community’s voice.  Once you click the link, you will be required to provide  your personal information and then there will be a letter that you agree to and submit.  

Dear families,

During this time of crisis, we are asking you to reach out to Governor Baker. The Arc has joined with others on the critical issue of health care triage and hospital care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are responding to the “Crisis Standards of Care” Advisory statement released on 4/7/2020 and we need your help.

Contact Governor Baker now.

We appreciate the efforts of our health care providers and medical settings for the yeoman work they are doing in protecting all our citizens. “All” our citizens.

As the crisis continues and possibly worsens, tools like the recently published “Crisis Standards of Care” are vital to guide them in life and death decisions. The “Crisis Standards of Care” Advisory includes a nondiscrimination statement, but it needs to be more than a statement of principle in terms of healthcare equity for people at risk for discrimination based on their gender, race, disability, or other protected status.

For health care staff making split second decisions under crisis conditions, principles must be operationalized. The reality is that bias, often unconscious, remains deeply embedded within our societal DNA. Medical professionals are not immune to this bias. Standards should include training and directions on access and treatment that give triage team members tools which they will appreciate one day when they look back at these challenging times.

Please use the action center to respond. You can learn more about this issue by going here and scrolling to Health Care Advocacy.

I cannot begin to thank all of you for your continued support to our mission.  Our community has an incredible capacity for empathy and caring in times of need and maintaining physical distance doesn’t change that. I am reminded of that through the commitment of our staff and families every day – We are all in this together.

Wishing you and your families a Happy Passover & Happy Easter.

Be Well,
Michelle Markowitz
Interim President & CEO