Dear Residents, Families, Friends and other stakeholders,
We are committed to keeping our residents safe and we need your help. The virus causing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (abbreviated COVID-19) can cause outbreaks in many long-term care facilities. At this point we are happy to announce that WSC has no presumptive or positive cases.
Many of our residents are elderly and may have medical conditions putting them at a very high risk of becoming sick, or even severely ill, with COVID-19. Visitors and healthcare personnel (HCP) are the most likely sources of introduction of the virus that causes COVID-19 into our homes. To protect our vulnerable residents, even before COVID-19 is seen in our community, we are immediately taking the following aggressive actions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in our residents and staff:
Effective March 17, 2020 we closed our Day Programs. Those programs will remain closed until further notice. We expect them to be closed at least until the state of emergency/stay at home order is lifted
Effective March 17, 2020 we have limited access to 291 Mystic Ave to workers that are considered essential to our operations. All non-essential activities have been postponed
Effective April 1, 2020 all persons in the building need to be wearing a mask at all times
Effective March 17, 2020 all visitation is being restricted except for certain compassionate care situations, such as VNA or end of life situations.
We know that your presence is important for your loved one but, per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is a necessary action to protect their health. We are recommending alternative methods of visitation (such as Skype and FaceTime) so that you can continue to communicate with your loved ones.
Visitors who are permitted to enter homes will be required to frequently clean their hands, limit their visit to a designated area within the building, and wear a facemask. As the situation with COVID-19 is rapidly changing, we will continue to keep you updated.
We are monitoring healthcare personnel and residents for symptoms of respiratory illness. Healthcare personnel will be actively monitored for fever and symptoms of respiratory infection. Ill healthcare personnel will be asked to stay home. You may see healthcare personnel wearing facemasks, gown, and gloves in order to prevent germs from spreading and help keep residents safe. Healthcare personnel will clean their hands frequently. We are assessing residents daily for fevers and symptoms of respiratory infection in order to quickly identify ill residents and implement additional infection prevention activities.
When ill residents are identified, they will be monitored closely, asked to stay in their rooms and/or wear a mask.
We are limiting activities within the facility. We are cancelling all group activities within the building and all community outings. We will be helping residents to practice social distancing, including during meals, and to frequently clean their hands. We encourage you to review the CDC website for information about COVID-19, including its symptoms, how it spreads, and actions you can take to protect your health: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
Thank you very much for everything you are doing to keep our residents and facility staff safe and healthy. We continue to monitor the situation in our community; we will keep you informed about any new precautions we think are necessary to keep your loved one safe.
The latest news headlines and pronouncements from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) inform us that the respiratory outbreak known as Coronavirus has now spread to scores of countries around the world, including the United States. As of now Governor Charlie Baker has declared a state of emergency. Declaring a state of emergency allows state agencies to bring in more resources, specifically for rescue, shelter and evacuation. At this time there is no travel band in place but people are being asked to limit non-essential travel.
The remainder of this memo provides information about the Coronavirus and the steps the Walnut Street Center has or is currently taking. Please review the information and policy statements below and let Human Resources know if you have any questions or concerns.
What is the Coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and people. A “novel” strain of Coronavirus, such as the current strain which the public and media are commonly referring to simply as “Coronavirus” (officially named COVID-19), is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Infected people can spread the Coronavirus through respiratory secretions, typically through coughing or sneezing. According to the CDC, spread from person-to-person is most likely to occur in close contact, i.e., within 6 feet.
Where can I get more information about Coronavirus?
Proper hygiene and etiquette: wash hands, cover-up coughs and sneezes. Hand sanitizers have been distributed and placed in common areas as available, with additional disinfectants and cleaning supplies available from Eva O, Director of Operations. All staff are strongly encouraged to follow common sense prevention procedures such as covering coughs and sneezes, and frequent hand washing.
Sick employees should stay home from work. If you are experiencing symptoms of the flu or acute respiratory illness (fever of 100° or more; cough; sore throat; extreme fatigue; shortness of breath) you should not come to work until you are free of symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Please be sure to follow our normal call-in procedures. Employees can apply accrued paid time pursuant to our normal policies in order to be paid for an absence from work caused by illness, including time to care for dependent children or other immediate family members who are ill.
What to do if you become ill at work. If you begin to experienceinfluenza-like or acute respiratory symptoms while at work, you should immediately advise your supervisor. You may be asked to go home until you are symptom-free for at least 24 hours.
Caring for a family member. If you need to stay home to care for an ill family member, our normal leave policies apply. However, please monitor your own health on a frequent ongoing basis and notify your supervisor immediately if you begin to experience symptoms.
What to do if you are at higher risk or vulnerability. If you are at higher risk of infection or increased impact vulnerability, or if you have other special circumstances related to the current Coronavirus outbreak, you should notify Human Resources in confidence, so that a discussion may be had with you as to any needed accommodations. And of course, if you are at increased risk of infection or illness-related complications you are strongly encouraged to contact your primary care provider for proactive guidance, or at the first indication of symptoms.
Travel. The CDC maintains and updates a traveler’s health advisory containing the latest guidance andrecommendations about travel and the Coronavirus. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html Please check the CDC website before traveling. If you are traveling to an at-risk area, you should actively self-monitor for symptoms before returning to work. The CDC provides helpful guidance on risk-assessment and self-monitoring. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/risk-assessment.html. Depending on the threat level at the time and place of travel, you may be asked to verify that you are symptom free before returning to work. If you become ill while traveling, you should promptly call a healthcare provider for consultation and notify your supervisor about the impact on your return to work. The State Department on Sunday 3/1/20 advised Americans against traveling on cruise ships, warning that they presented a higher risk of coronavirus infection and made U.S. citizens vulnerable to possible international travel restrictions, including quarantines. If you cruise you may be asked to verify that you are symptom free before returning to work.
Routine cleaning of commonly touched surfaces. All staff should frequently clean their phone handset, keyboard, mouse, and work surface. The front desk area should be wiped down frequently. Disinfectant cleaning products are being placed in all conference rooms and food areas.
Limit Social Contact. For the immediate future we are limiting community-based activities that are non-essential.
Individuals in our care should still attend Day Programs and Medical appointments but social activities – movies, mall, bowling, concerts, etc. should be limited whenever possible. Our day programs will be running site-based programing until further notice.
Conferences, job-fairs and other group meetings will be cancelled or put on hold.
To better control access to the building we recommend employees/participants use the front door and/or the triple sliding door in the transportation drop off area and not the side or “Mystic Pantry” door.
The well-being of our employees, individuals that we support and facility visitors, is our first concern. While the risks are currently very low in the United States generally, it’s possible that the Coronavirus outbreak will worsen and more directly affect us, our business operations and our community. That could happen quickly. We are paying attention to available sources of public health information, especially in the Greater Boston area. Walnut Street Center has a Continuity of Operations Plan in place and employee are encouraged to review its contents. Please feel free to make guardians and individuals know that we are paying close attention to this very fluid situation, and that we will be making ongoing decisions about appropriate measures to adopt to provide for the well-being of all. Please keep me apprised of any concerns or questions that arise.
Thank you for your cooperation, understanding, and compliance with the above policies. Additional information and measures will be taken and announced going forward as needed. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to bring them to me or to the attention of your supervisor, Human Resources or any member of management.
Save The Date for our 2020 Celtics fundraiser scheduled for 3/6/20 – Celtics vs. the Utah Jazz!
We will be in the Promenade Suite with complimentary food throughout the game and a cash bar!
Celtic mascot Lucky will be in attendance and a Championship trophy will be available for pictures so become a sponsor today! Contact Carolyne Guffey at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in sponsoring or donating to Walnut Street Center.
Adults on the autism spectrum face many challenges, from sensory overload to extreme anxiety. In the Greater Boston area, the Walnut Street Center offers a place of compassion and inclusion for autistic adults to thrive and live engaged lives through a variety of support services. Its residential homes and day services teach essential life skills, create personal connections with others, and foster confidence and community understanding.
One client that has benefited from the organization is Able, a 39-year-old non-verbal, adult with a severe cognitive disability that expresses his emotions through body language postures and modified nods. He lives with his four roommates in Arlington, interacting and interpreting the world in his most authentic way. The Center assists him with his personal care and home services, such as money management and transportation to medical support.
According to Forbes, 1.5 million autistic adults are living in the United States with a range of low to high functioning abilities. Able’s severe disabilities do not hamper him from living his best life. He values being with family and friends, appreciates music, running, and being physically fit. He also loves to eat and try new foods. He is the biggest fan of his mother’s Spanish cuisine.
In no words, Able shows others to live in harmony, find wonder, and appreciate the quieter things in life. He likes to walk for hours in his favorite park near his home, admiring the things around him. It does not bother him to disassemble a lamp, a light fixture, or a heater. He’s simply curious. People that are patient and understand his differences make the most impact with him like his mom and sisters. He does not care what others wear or where they live. Most important to him is to feel safe and happy. When his environment does change with loud noises, disruptive voices, and distractions, he becomes agitated and overwhelmed.
Our state is full of diverse people. It’s essential to understand better this disorder and some of the challenging symptoms associated with autism. Adults on the autism spectrum want a greater sense of self-worth and a welcoming community that protects their long-term well-being. If you know of a family or individual that may benefit from the Walnut Street Center or are a company looking for a recognized corporate sponsorship program, contact us for more information.
One of the individuals that attend Walnut Street Center is Joe, whose personal story is one of hope and healing. He’s a quiet, humble man with a remarkable positive attitude. He has loved motorcycles since he was nine-years-old and his friendship with the members of the Hard Knocks Motorcycle Club runs deep. His friends visit him once a week. They cut his hair, take him to rallies or visit motorcycle shops. While his three kids ages 10-15 years don’t ride, Joe would be okay if it made them happy. “It’s just life,” he says, from a chair with his tattooed arm draped in a sling and a long brace around his leg.
Joe survived life-threatening injuries from an accident on a tragic night in May 2015 while riding his Harley Davidson Road Glide motorcycle alone. The impact threw him into a fence.
“I was left for dead,” he said.
He suffered trauma to his neck, spinal cord, stomach, and knee, and was in a medically induced coma for three months to heal. His memories are fuzzy as he moved from two hospitals to rehab. At one point, he wore a Halo brace to hold his head and neck still so his neck bones and ligaments could heal. He then had to relearn all the self-care activities that we take for granted.
“Everyday is a good day. I don’t have any bad ones,” says Joe.
He visits Walnut Street Center four-days-a-week from his residential program in Billerica, where he lives with roommates. The Habilitation Program provides clients with severe head injuries with habilitative medical, and therapeutic services to help restore cognitive, physical, and speech-related functions. One of Joe’s favorite therapeutic activities is music therapy and he looks forward to working with the therapist weekly. Joe’s long-term goal is to achieve functional independence and move closer to Medford to be near his kids.
Joe credits the support of his family, medical professionals, and the camaraderie of his motorcycle club for never giving up on him. Together, they gave him the power to heal and beat the odds. Even today, Joe is active with the Hard Knocks Motorcycle Club as its Enforcer upholding clubs law and collecting dues. He advises anyone to ride with a buddy, and to avoid high traffic, stop-and-go areas. Long highways like ones in Florida are his favorite.
As part of our Direct Support Professionals Week, WSC has selected a special employee of the year from our list of employees of the month. It is an honor to name Savara Willis our Employee of the Year! In addition to the award, she receives a $250.00 prize!
Savara does an incredible job working in our Bonair Residential Program. Here are a few shots of her with our team member Eva and also with one of the individuals that she supports day-to-day.
For special needs advocates, the journey to developing a tailored strategy to support and safeguard the most vulnerable in society is marked with many uphill and emotional challenges. It takes time, information and resources to navigate the many complex private and statewide services to ensure eligibility and attention. At times, all issues seem to be urgent when dealing with a disability.
On October 8, the Walnut Street Center and attorney Kimberly L. Kelly will offer a free supportive workshop that will arm long-term special needs advocates with invaluable and effective tools to facilitate and encourage their work. The program will give an overview of general advocacy, plus medical and financial advocacy such as guardianship, conservatorship and trusts. Everyone will leave with a 44-page handbook that addresses how to express views and concerns; accessing information and services; rights and responsibilities; and exploring choices and options. This program is not to be missed.
Kimberly L. Kelly of the Law Office of Kimberly L. Kelly LLP has been practicing law for more than 16 years, concentrating in Guardianships, Conservatorships, Probate/Estate Administration, Estate Planning, Special Needs Planning, Trust Administration, MassHealth Planning, and more. She launched her law practice in 2010 and in 2016 established a partnership with Attorney Baglio and Kelaher to better serve her clients.
We’re celebrating National Direct Support Professionals all week long. We could not continue our mission without the dedicated caregivers who work hard every day to make the lives of the people we serve with disabilities safe, joyful, and fulfilled. From tokens of appreciation, an employee of the year award presentation, icecream socials, and a grand finale celebration to cap it all off. We’re excited to show our appreciation all week to those who make the biggest impact.
Taste of Somerville is the city’s premiere culinary event returns on June 12! This year we’re celebrating in a new home — on the banks of the Mystic River at Assembly Row. Produced by the Somerville Chamber of Commerce Dining & Nightlife Group, the Taste of Somerville is a unique way to experience our dining and nightlife scene.
Last year’s event served over 1,200 guests a comprehensive array of food, drink, and entertainment from 60+ restaurants, bars, beverage providers, and local artisans.
We’re honored to be this year’s beneficiary as we’ve enjoyed teaming up with this fantastic event for the last three years! Somerville was not only our home page many many years of operation but we also maintain our shared living programs in and around Somerville, as well. We are so lucky to be involved in this city, community, and event!
Wonderful news to share with our friends and family this April! The Walnut Street Center has been awarded the Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund (TNSF) grant by Tufts University Community Relations. Our very own Sara O’brien will be attending the event today and representing WSC in receiving this honor.
We want to thank both Tufts University and also our team for all of their hard work each day! We’re honored to be given this spotlight and grant money to continue our work of serving our community members. To learn about exactly what we do and see our mission statement visit our About Page.