The Coronavirus, Open Door Center and A New Normal

The Spring and Summer of 2020 have changed dramatically from previous years due to the onset of the coronavirus. It was in mid-March that Open Door Center closed. Sheltering-in-place was the manner chosen to protect people receiving services and the essential staff who assist them. Masks, social distancing, hand hygiene, PPE, became familiar words for everyone associated with the Open Door Center. Accompanying these new words came the locking of doors, screening, sanitizing, glove usage, as a more frequent part of everyone’s life.

The one-point entry assisted everyone in following the CDC recommendations. Nursing personnel were excellent in providing the necessary supplies coordinating the needs with the support staff who were so fastidious in their pursuit of needed supplies that often seemed to be in short supply. The Center was fortunate that Deb Egan, a long-time Open Door Center employee made many cloth masks that have and continue to be used by people when they leave their safety boundaries. City-County Health and other state agencies helped with the fitting of N-95 masks that are used in the treatment of those who are diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Center staff and especially the Work Activity employees provided daily contact as well as daily activities for those who were sheltering-in-place. The activities were connected to learning objectives that were not forgotten during a time we wish we never had to experience. However, the day support staff and the residential staff worked as a team to meet the needs of all who were and are involved with Open Door Center. Many van rides included car bingo, I-spy of out-of-state license plates, and there were drive-by games and movies provided by the City offering more diversions. What a great time people had at the drive-in movie at the Eagle Creek parking lot. The local eateries offered drive through and curb-side menus as a change of pace for many who craved variety in their food consumption as well as an opportunity to view the outside. Many people made craft items including small plantings, sand sculptures and greeting cards. There were many post cards and letters exchanged between people, homes and staff. Work Activity created a cookbook (Quarantine Cuisine Cookbook) that includes some great recipes. One individual increased his culinary skills by creating suppers for his roommate using the recipes from the cookbook. If you are interested in purchasing one of these masterpieces at a cost of $5.00 please contact the administrative office.

Program Directors and nursing personnel visited the group homes and other residential setting frequently if not daily and they still do. They provide sheets of information, the mail, and were the channel to the outside. They also visited with people who lived with family just to let them know that they were missed and to wish them safety and good health.

Open Door Center, like many other facilities in the State, experienced the feared positive reaction to the coronavirus testing. Several staff were quarantined, and people were isolated due to the diagnosis. However, to date, none have been seriously ill with COVID-19. Staff volunteered to assist the people who were isolated. They were kind and gently helping everyone adjust to this new development. Nursing was evident to meet the needs of the people and staff. What a great collaboration among the various parties. All involved have now tested negative. However, this does not eliminate the possibility of the COVID-19 from springing up again.

There is a new normal at Open Door Center. It includes wearing masks when working with people served. Individuals, too, wear masks when they are away from their residential settings. The experts say that masks and social distancing can reduce the event of COVID-19 by 80%. Social distancing is used at Work Activity along with the wearing of masks. This allows for people to attend every other day. Masks, social distancing and hand hygiene along with screenings for symptoms of the virus continue to be used daily and in every environment. Although these measures reduce the amount of time people spend at the Center, it is helping in reducing the effects of this contagious pandemic. Others who have underlying health conditions have programming at home. Visitations at the group homes is still restricted, although some people are visiting at family homes with the encouragement of following CDC regulations that are part of our new normal.
The people, staff and families have been extremely supportive making this event one that we will overcome. Thanks to all for your contributions to helping Open Door Center to remain safe and healthy.