COVID-19 Updates

Thursday, May 27, 2021

May 26, 2021 – Letter to Parents & Guardians about Bridgewell Residential & Day Programs

May 26, 2021

Dear Families and Guardians,

The State of Massachusetts is reopening and lifting more and more of its COVID restrictions as people continue to become vaccinated. With the reopening, many of you have been questioning what this means for people who live in our residential programs and attend our day programs.

Bridgewell-operated day programs continue to follow the guidance issued by EOHHS and MassHealth. Restrictions remain in place for six feet of social distancing at all times, mask wearing, as well as cleaning and screening protocols. We are not yet aware of any changes with transportation.

With that said, we want to open our day programs to all of our people who reside in our residential programs as soon as possible. In addition to the social distancing requirements and the uncertainty with transportation services, the major hurdle we face is the inability to hire staff to work at our day program sites. As we hire, we will bring back residential programs one at a time. We have begun to work on transition plans for people in our residential programs so they are ready to return safely to our residences when we have sufficient staff on board. Your Residential Manager will notify you of the return date once it is established.

For people in our residential programs who do not attend Bridgewell-operated day services, we have made contact with the current day program providers and are actively working on establishing a return date for people individually.

In our residences, COVID restrictions remain in place in alignment with Governor Baker’s reopening plan. These restrictions include mask wearing by staff and visitors as well as cleaning and screening protocols.

Bridgewell’s goal is to start bringing people who live in our residences back to day programs over the next three months. Staffing challenges have made this difficult and we continue to work closely with our Human Resources Department in their recruitment efforts.

Thank you for your patience; we will continue to update you over the coming weeks.

Sincerely,

Christopher Tuttle

President and CEO

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

March 10, 2021 – An Open Letter to Staff from Bridgewell’s President & CEO Chris Tuttle

March 10, 2021

 

Dear Colleagues,

On March 10, 2020 Governor Baker declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts due to growing concerns over the spread of coronavirus infections. On March 13, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services for Massachusetts closed all day programs and put restrictions in place for all congregate care programs. That was one year ago and life has changed dramatically. As we mark this anniversary, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the impact of this pandemic and how it has affected all of us. I also want to recognize the resilience and triumph that has been on display for the past year.

With more than 29 million COVID cases diagnosed in the United States to date, all of us have been impacted directly by this virus. Most of us know someone who’s been diagnosed with COVID, or perhaps have personally tested positive for the virus. The stress, grief and loss that this pandemic has caused cannot be understated – and the emotional toll that it has taken on all of us will take years to heal. For some, healing from this past year may never be fully realized as they’ve had to say goodbye to loved ones. It is important for us to continue to support and love one another during these difficult times.

At Bridgewell, 302 staff and 156 individuals have tested positive for coronavirus since March 2020. Staff, individuals and families have dealt with unprecedented challenges. Our staff have been on high alert for 12 months, doing their best to keep those we have the privilege of serving protected and healthy. Bridgewell’s frontline staff have worked under increased stress as they cared for individuals in our programs and also for themselves and their own families. But through all the grief, sadness and stress, what has been truly remarkable is the dedication and compassion the Bridgewell team has demonstrated during this time.

Bridgewell’s residential programs have been essentially locked down for a year, which at face value seems unconscionable – but our staff have made it work. They’ve worked creatively to engage every individual in our homes and ensure the environment is positive and upbeat. Staff have sacrificed to make sure programing and treatment continued as safely as possible. Clinicians in our behavioral health clinics shifted quickly to telehealth to make sure the individuals we serve continued receiving services during these troubling times. Day programing opened this summer, but with limited capacity – so staff worked to develop both on-site and virtual programing. I am so proud of our Bridgewell team for stepping up to meet the challenge, providing the excellent services we are known for even through such unique circumstances.

I cannot say with certainty when life will get back to “normal.” We are still in the thick of the pandemic, but there is encouragement on the horizon. Coronavirus infection rates are declining and the vaccine is slowly becoming available to the public. By the end of March, 98% of individuals in our programs who were eligible to get the vaccine will be fully vaccinated – and 51% of eligible staff will be fully vaccinated. We are seeing society slowly opening up more and certain restrictions being reduced or lifted.

I have thought a lot about staff over this past year and how remarkable all of you are. I have tried to put into words how much I appreciate all of you and the work you have done. The positive, upbeat attitude you have shown despite the challenges has been truly inspiring. I was listening to one of my favorite songs* the other day and the opening lyrics reminded me of how this past year has felt – and the Bridgewell team’s response through it all.

 

When you can’t find the light,

That got you through the cloudy days,

When the stars ain’t shinin’ bright,

You feel like you’ve lost your way,

When those candle lights of home,

Burn so very far away,

Well you got to let your soul shine.

 

This past year, Bridgewell let its soul shine – and everyone we serve is better for it. Thank you all for doing your part.

With deep appreciation and gratitude,

Chris

 

*The Allman Brothers Band, Soulshine

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

March 2, 2021 – Letter to Family Members & Guardians Visitation Update

March 2, 2021

Dear Bridgewell family members and guardians,

As the positivity rate and the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline in the state of Massachusetts, Bridgewell has decided to update its residential visitation guidelines to include indoor on-site, off-site and overnight visits. In addition, there will no longer be any restrictions regarding cities or towns being in a red zone.

We make this decision knowing that all of you will still adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) with regards to visitation and safety precautions.

Indoor On-Site Visitation

Bridgewell’s policy remains the same:

  • Visits must be scheduled in advance and limited to 2 persons per resident at a time.
  • The visit will be held in the dedicated visitation area of the program.
  • Visitors must be screened prior to the visit taking place.
  • All infection control processes must be adhered to during the visits – wearing of masks, using hand sanitizer and maintaining a safe distance. There will be no sharing of food.

Off-Site Visits and Overnights

  • Visits must be scheduled in advance with the program.
  • The DDS Residential Off-Site Visitation Attestation Form and a list of close contacts is required to be completed.
  • Anyone wishing to have an off-site or overnight visit must be free from any symptoms of COVID-19 and must not have been in close contact or with anyone suspected of having COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

We agree that visitation is vital to the well-being of all the people we serve. We must rely on you to continue to practice social distancing, wear masks and practice good hand hygiene.

We look forward to scheduling your visits and seeing you at the residential programs.

Thank you for your patience and support over the past year as we navigate through this pandemic.

Sincerely,

Elaine M. White

Chief Operating Officer

 

CC:  Kelly Lawless, Jennifer Killeen, Bonnie Hungler, Tom Marshall, Michelle Vercellone, LynnLee Jordan

Monday, February 22, 2021

Feb. 19, 2021 – Letter to Parents & Guardians Visitation Update

February 19, 2021

Dear Bridgewell family members and guardians,

I am pleased to let you know that as of today, 97% of the individuals residing in our residential programs and 45% of our residential staff have received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Additionally, we have seen a drop in the “red zone” cities across the state of Massachusetts. While this is hopeful news, we remain vigilant in our COVID-19 protocols and continue to operate with an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of those we serve and the staff who work with them.

For our residential programs, the positivity rate in Essex and Middlesex counties is now under 5%, so we have adjusted our visitation guidelines to reflect this new data. We will now allow two off site day visits per month in our non-red zone cities and towns. However, we still encourage you to visit at the program to ensure the highest level of safety at this time.

Bridgewell’s visitation guideline are as follows:

  1. Any residential program in a red zone as determined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is restricted from all visitation. Currently those cities and towns that impact Bridgewell are: Dracut, Haverhill, Littleton, Lowell, Lynn, Peabody, and Saugus.
  2. Any residential program not currently in a red zone but experiencing a COVID positive case at the residence, is restricted from all visitation for the duration of the quarantine period.
  3. For all other Bridgewell programs, or once a program is no longer in the red zone, visitation may be held on site at the residential program – and two off site day visits per month may be scheduled with the Residential Manager. Our guidelines will remain in place for the onsite visits – there will be no sharing of food during these visits, and visitation will take place in the designated areas, limited to two visitors at a time. Masks must be worn at all times, and all other screening measures will be in place.
  4. If there are extraordinary circumstances, please contact your Residential Manager.
  5. Bridgewell will regularly reevaluate this visitation policy.

We are encouraged by the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and continued decline in overall COVID-19 infection rates across the state. Our efforts to keep Bridgewell programs as free from COVID-19 risk as possible must continue. We will continue following strict protocols around wearing masks, hand washing, social distancing, and cleaning of our homes.

Thank you for your understanding and your cooperation in ensuring the health and safety of all at Bridgewell.

Sincerely,

Elaine M. White

Chief Operating Officer

 

Cc:  Kelly Lawless, Jennifer Killeen, Bonnie Hungler, Tom Marshall, Michelle Vercellone, LynnLee Jordan

Monday, February 8, 2021

Feb. 3, 2021 – Letter to Parents & Guardians of Bridgewell Day Programs

February 3, 2021

Dear Bridgewell Family Members and Guardians,

We are so glad that people who attend and staff who work in our day programs will soon have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in this first phase of the MA vaccine rollout plan. COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations seem to be on a gradual decline – a trend that we hope will continue – but many of the cities and towns in which Bridgewell has programs are still showing higher than average rates of infection.

We have been asked if our day programs will be able to operate at pre-COVID capacity levels after people have been vaccinated. Unfortunately, we will not be able to increase the number of people we serve through our day programs until the MA Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) changes the square footage capacity guidelines. Even after our vaccination clinics have been held, the state guidelines will still limit the number of people we can serve in day programs – and we do not expect significant changes to these guidelines for the foreseeable future. We also know that people who are vaccinated are still able to transmit and potentially contract COVID-19 to and from others, so we will continue to operate with an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of those we serve and the staff who work with them.

I know we are all ready to move on from restrictions like these. However, our efforts to keep Bridgewell programs as free from COVID-19 risk as possible must continue. We will continue following strict protocols around wearing masks, hand washing, social distancing, and cleaning of our facilities. We are eager to get our day programs operating at pre-COVID capacity levels as soon as it is possible to do this safely, but that will require our continued collective efforts with all of these protocols.

Thank you for your understanding and your cooperation in ensuring the health and safety of all at Bridgewell.

Sincerely,

Christopher Tuttle

President and CEO

 

Cc:  Kelly Lawless, Jennifer Killeen, Bonnie Hungler, Tom Marshall, Michelle Vercellone, Karen Seck, Danielle Sheehan

 

Feb. 3, 2021 – Letter to Parents and Guardians of Bridgewell Residential Programs

February 3, 2021

Dear Bridgewell Family Members and Guardians,

We are so glad that 576 people living in and staff working in our residential homes have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to date, and clinics to administer the second dose are starting to be held this week.

While COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations seem to be on a gradual decline – a trend that we hope will continue – many of the cities and towns in which Bridgewell has programs are still showing higher than average rates of infection. We are very fortunate that the vaccine has been made available to those in our residential programs in the first phase of the MA vaccine rollout plan, but we know that people who are vaccinated are still able to transmit and potentially contract COVID-19 to and from others. We must continue to operate with an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of those we serve and the staff who work with them. It is with this same concern that we will continue to ask people to not return to their day programs until it is safe to do so.

For our residential programs, we will also be maintaining the visitation guidelines I shared with you on December 11, 2020 until the positivity rate goes down in Essex and Middlesex counties.

Bridgewell’s visitation guideline are as follows:

  1. Any residential program in a red zone as determined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall be restricted from all visitation. Currently those cities and towns that impact Bridgewell are: Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Haverhill, Littleton, Lowell, Lynn, Merrimac, Peabody, Salem, Salisbury, Saugus, Tewksbury, Topsfield, Wakefield and Westford.
  2. Any residential program not currently in a red zone but experiencing a COVID positive at the residence, shall be restricted from visitation for the duration of the quarantine period.
  3. For all other Bridgewell programs, or once a program is no longer in the red zone, visitation shall now be held on site at the residential program only. There will be no sharing of food during these visits. Visitation will take place in the designated areas, limited to two visitors at a time. Masks must be worn at all times, and all other screening measures will be in place.
  4. If there are extraordinary circumstances, please contact your Residential Manager.
  5. Bridgewell will regularly reevaluate this visitation policy.

We are encouraged by the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and hopeful declines in overall COVID-19 infection rates across the state, and I know we are all ready to move on from restrictions like these. However, our efforts to keep Bridgewell programs as free from COVID-19 risk as possible must continue. We will continue following strict protocols around wearing masks, hand washing, social distancing, and cleaning of our homes.

Thank you for your understanding and your cooperation in ensuring the health and safety of all at Bridgewell.

Sincerely,

Elaine M. White

Chief Operating Officer

 

Cc:  Kelly Lawless, Jennifer Killeen, Bonnie Hungler, Tom Marshall, Michelle Vercellone

Monday, January 11, 2021

A Message from Bridgewell’s President & CEO to Staff About the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Dear Bridgewell staff team:

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the holiday season and 2021 is off to a good start for you. I know 2020 was a very challenging year, but I am optimistic about our path ahead in 2021, particularly as the COVID-19 vaccines are now being rolled out. Today is an exciting day; individuals and staff in 19 of our residential programs will be getting the first dose of the highly effective COVID vaccine. Over the next few weeks, those in all other residential programs will be receiving the vaccine. This is a huge step forward in bringing this pandemic under control, and getting vaccinated when you’re eligible is so important to prevent getting sick with COVID-19 disease.

Many of you are on the front lines, working with individuals in our services and at risk being exposed to COVID-19 each day on the job. Your work is so important – and you are among the first group eligible to receive the vaccine because of your essential role in fighting this pandemic. At this point, direct care staff who work in our congregate care settings such as group homes are included in Phase 1 of the Massachusetts rollout plan, so they are eligible to be vaccinated in the coming weeks.

If you are eligible for Phase 1, I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated now. It will help protect you and the individuals you care for who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. This is an opportunity for you to serve as a role model in our community, and by getting vaccinated first, you can positively influence your co-workers, friends, and family members to get vaccinated when they’re eligible. I look forward to my opportunity to get vaccinated when I am eligible, which will be in Phase 3 of the rollout plan.

To offer convenient access to the vaccine, we have partnered with Walgreens to provide on-site COVID-19 vaccination for individuals and staff, free of charge, who are eligible for vaccination in Phase 1. Details about these on-site vaccination clinics at our direct care locations will be shared in the coming days. Walgreens will be using the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine when providing vaccinations to our Phase 1 eligible staff.

I understand some of you who are eligible to get vaccinated in Phase 1 may be apprehensive about getting the vaccine so early in the rollout process. I encourage you to explore these resources posted on the CDC website to educate yourself about the vaccine: Vaccine Facts, and view this informative video: The Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines for Direct Support Professionals. Please also reach out to your primary care physician if you have specific questions or concerns about the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines are key to helping bring an end to the pandemic, but some of us will have to wait a few more months to receive the vaccine. It is critical that all of us continue to follow the current guidance to protect ourselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least six feet away from others, avoiding crowds, and washing hands often. Even individuals and staff who are vaccinated will need to continue with these protective practices.

Thank you all for your ongoing efforts to keep individuals in our programs and your co-workers safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

Christopher Tuttle
President and CEO

Monday, December 14, 2020

Dec. 14, 2020 – Updated Visitation Guidelines

Please click here for Bridgewell’s updated Visitation Guidelines letter from Chief Operating Officer, Elaine White, effective Monday, December 14, 2020

 

Monday, November 9, 2020

November 9, 2020 – Updated Visitation Guidelines

November 9, 2020

Dear Bridgewell Family Member and Guardians,

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Bridgewell has been extremely vigilant with its health and safety practices as we continue to navigate COVID-19. We realize that this has been challenging for all and it has been our goal to keep you informed and to share our practices.

Massachusetts is currently experiencing a surge in positive cases and Bridgewell is also experiencing an increase of cases among staff and individuals. Bridgewell was fortunate over the last few months to be COVID-free.

Since we are experiencing an increase in COVID cases we are making the difficult decision to change the current visitation policy effective Thursday, November 12th. While these changes may feel uncomfortable we feel it is necessary to ensure the health and safety of those we serve and the staff that work with our individuals every day.

Our new visitation guidelines are as follows:

  1. Any residential program in a red zone as determined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shall be restricted from all visitations. Currently those cities and towns that impact Bridgewell: Lowell and Lynn.
  2. Any residential program not currently in a red zone but experiencing a COVID positive at the residence, shall be restricted from visitation for a 2 week period.
  3. For all other Bridgewell Residential Programs or once a program is no longer in a red zone visitation shall now be held on site at the residential program only. There will be no sharing of food during these visits. Visitations will take place in the designated area, limited to 2 visitors at a time, masks must be worn at all times and all other screening measures will be in place.
  4. If there are extraordinary circumstances please contact your Residential Manager.
  5. Bridgewell will reevaluate its visitation policy every week.

I know that the holiday season is right around the corner and the change in policy may feel restrictive. During this time we will continue to work with you to make sure that we continue to facilitate video or zoom visits. It is our goal and I am sure it is yours, to ensure that Bridgewell remain as free from COVID as possible. It is our hope that our routines will return to normal soon.

Thank you for your cooperation in ensuring the health and safety of all at Bridgewell.

Sincerely,

Elaine M. White

Chief Operating Officer

 

Visitation Guidelines Letter 11 9 20

Friday, September 25, 2020

Indoor visitation policy update for Residential and Recovery Programs, effective Oct. 1

The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS) have updated their visitation policies to include guidelines and requirements for indoor visitations, effective as of October 1, 2020.

DDS Residential Programs Indoor Visitation Policy

BSAS Indoor Visitation Policy

Thursday, July 16, 2020

July 16, 2020 – Email to Parents & Guardians

July 16, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this email finds you and your family well and enjoying the summer. I recently joined Bridgewell as its Vice President, Day Habilitation & Community Engagement and I am delighted to be here.

Now that Massachusetts has entered Phase 3 of its reopening plan, one Bridgewell day habilitation program and some aspects of its programming will begin on July 27. Based on federal and state mandates and guidelines for reopening, we will be taking a conservative, staggered approach. This is to ensure that we are in compliance with the state as well as for the sake of everyone’s health and safety.

The MA Department of Developmental Services has stipulated that the first priority group for day programming participation is for people who are currently living with their families or independently and not in a congregate care setting. We have identified and invited 15-20 Rosewood II participants who meet the state’s reopening guideline criteria to begin with us on Monday, July 27.

We will be evaluating and monitoring program operations closely and making adjustments and changes as needed. Bridgewell has a plan for how we will move forward with opening the other day programs and will make announcements around those openings as we get closer to those dates. We will identify and invite participants from each of these programs in advance, and we will be in direct contact with parents and guardians with the details. 

Please know we are doing our utmost best to welcome back as many people as we can and as safely as possible. In addition, we are also actively developing new day programming initiatives and delivery methods to provide participants with more day programming options. We recognize that until there is a vaccine widely available, day programming will not be as it was prior to closing in March. I hope to have more information on new programming to share with you soon.

I ask for your collaboration and patience as we forge this new ground together. I know this is not an easy time for you, your family and your loved one and we want to support you as best as we can. If you have any questions, please contact your day program manager directly.

Sincerely,

Stacey Leibowitz
Vice President, Day Habilitation & Community Engagement

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July 7, 2020 – A Message from Bridgewell’s President & CEO

Dear Family, Guardians and Bridgewell community,

On July 2, 2020, EOHHS released guidelines and protocols regarding the reopening of day programs. This coincides with Massachusetts entering Phase 3 of its reopening plan on July 6th.

In preparation for Phase 3, Bridgewell has been working to develop safety protocols and standards so that we are ready to re-open in a fashion that ensures that everyone is safe. As you can imagine there is a great deal that needs to be in place to ensure the safety of each person in our services and our staff. Our goal is to open our day programs slowly and thoughtfully, one at a time, starting later in July.

When we do re-open, we will focus on limiting on-site capacity and keeping a healthy distance during service provision. Bridgewell is working to develop a hybrid approach to day programing, combining on-site and remote services as well as developing services that can be delivered in a family’s home.

The reopening will start with people who are living at home with loved ones coming back to day programs. That will be followed by people who live in shared living and/or their own apartments and lastly people who live in residential settings.

In the coming weeks, I will provide more detail regarding the reopening of day programs. For now, I appreciate your patience as we work to build and then communicate detailed plans for a smooth, safe and successful reopening!

 

Christopher Tuttle
President & CEO

Thursday, July 2, 2020

New guidelines for on-site and off-site residential visitations, effective July 3

July 2, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am pleased to share with you that the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has announced guidelines for expanded on-site visitations and the commencement of off-site visitations, effective July 3, 2020.  I also want to share the attestation form that DDS requires parents/guardians to submit when the person served returns to their residence from an off-site visit as well as an updated visitor screening form.

These guidelines and attestation and visitor screening forms insure visitations adhere to recommended DDS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic. As the situation continues to evolve and based on specific circumstances in a residence, the guidelines are subject to change. We will do our best to provide as much advance notice as possible.

We are glad that the people in our services are now able to be with their families for extended on-site and off-site visits. Please connect with your residential manager on any questions you might have and to arrange a visit.

Best wishes,

Kelly Pottie, Vice President of Residential Living

 

 

Monday, June 8, 2020

Update on Visitations at Bridgewell’s Residential Programs

June 8, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am pleased to share with you that the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has announced that visitations can resume beginning Wednesday, June 10. Please find below the guidelines under which visits will be conducted. These guidelines insure visitations adhere to recommended DDS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic.

These guidelines are subject to change as the situation with the pandemic evolves and based on specific circumstances in a residence. We will do our best to provide as much advance notice as possible. Thank you in advance for your understanding, flexibility and assistance in following the established guidelines. We look forward to reuniting the people in our services with their families. I know this has been a hardship for families and persons served to not see their loved ones. Please connect with your residential manager on any questions you might have and to arrange a visit.

Best wishes,

Kelly

Kelly Pottie
Vice President of Residential Living

 

Residential Program Visitation Guidelines

General:

  • Visits will need to be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance.
  • Visits will be no more than 30 minutes in length, beginning when everyone has gathered.
  • All visits will take place outside on the Bridgewell property in a designated area. Visitors will not be allowed entry into the home or facility for any reason.
  • Only one family of one resident will be able to visit at a time.
  • Family members visiting will be limited to two members. Children and at-risk people are strongly encouraged to remain home.
  • Everyone participating in a visit will need to wear a mask and practice social distancing of at least 6 feet at all times.
  • A program staff member will remain with the resident at all times during the visit.
  • Barbecues and parties are prohibited.

 

Visitor Screening:

  • All visitors will be screened prior to visiting with a resident. Please find attached the tool that will be used to administer the screening. COVID19 VISITOR SCREENING FORM
  • Visitors will not be permitted to visit if they have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle pain, chills, or new loss of taste or smell.
  • Anyone with a fever (100.0 F or higher) will not be permitted to visit the home.
  • Visitors will not be permitted to visit if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days or if they have been ordered by a health care professional or public health official to quarantine due to exposure.
  • Any visitors who develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 as described above within two days after the visitation must immediately notify the program of the date they were on site, the people they were in contact with, and the locations where the visit occurred.

 

Friday, June 5, 2020

June 5, 2020 – CEO Email to Parents & Guardians

June 5, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this email finds you and your family well. I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on new protocols that will be in place for our Day Habilitation Programs and residential program visitations when they resume operations.

Residential Program Visitations:

Currently, we have not received any new information from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) when on-site visitations can resume. It is my understanding we should be receiving guidance soon. When visits resume, the following steps will be in place:

  1. All visits will take place outside on the Bridgewell property.
  2. Visits will need to be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance.
  3. Only one family of one resident will be able to visit at a time.
  4. Family members visiting will be limited to two members.
  5. Visits will be no more than 60 minutes in length.
  6. Masks will need to be worn at all times.

These are Bridgewell’s guidelines. When we receive the DDS guidelines there could be additional steps and protocols that will need to be followed. Once visitations begin again and the steps are implemented, we may need to make adjustments on the above so as to continue to be responsive.

We understand the hardship families are feeling. We are working closely with DDS on reopening our programs for visits. These are unprecedented times and we want to make sure the procedures in place ensures the highest level of safety for everyone and limits the transmission of COVID-19.

Day Habilitation Programing;

At this time there is no timeframe for day programing to resume. There are many factors at play and it’s our sincere hope that our day programs are able to open in some capacity this summer. When day programs do reopen, we have begun to develop protocols that will be in place. Please note that the following is a draft and subject to change.

Reopening Day Program Preliminary Procedures

  1. All Employees will have their temperature taken when reporting on shift.
  2. All Staff will wear gloves and masks.
  3. Staff who are not feeling well should not report to work.
  4. All persons served will have their temperature taken upon arrival to the day program. Anyone who has a temperature will be isolated from the rest of the group and arrangements will be made for them to return to their residence.
  5. Any person served who arrives at the day program and is fever free but does not feel well, will be isolated from the group and arrangements will be made for them to return to their residence. If during the day a person served becomes ill, they will visit the nurse and arrangements will be made to return to their residence.
  6. All persons served will be encouraged and assisted to the best of their ability to wear masks.
  7. Handwashing will be emphasized throughout the day and wipes will be available in every classroom.
  8. The floorplan of the day program, all classrooms and common spaces, will be redesigned to conform to social distancing.
  9. All corridors and hallways will be marked to have the traffic flow in one direction.
  10. Lunch and snacks will be eaten in smaller groups and within the classroom.
  11. Activities that could result in cross-contamination will be temporarily put on hold.
  12. Each classroom will be assessed to ensure all the required materials and equipment are located in the classroom.
  13. A cleaning schedule will be developed to ensure the programs are cleaned, before, during and at the end of the day by staff.
  14. The facility will be professionally cleaned and sanitized at least two times per week.
  15. Bathrooms will be designated to each classroom and will be cleaned after each use.
  16. Education and hygiene protocols will be provided to staff and persons served and incorporated into group learning and morning meetings.
  17. Only authorized persons served and staff, based on the daily census, will be allowed in the program. Any family members or non Bridgewell staff will be required to drop off and remain outside of the building. Procedures for drop off will be communicated to all transportation providers and non-providers.
  18. Remote learning/services will continue to be offered to those participants who are not yet able to return to the physical site.

As we learn more I will update you. As a reminder, every Thursday I record a weekly message for parents and guardians at 339-883-2201 with the most up to date information. Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment. We will all get through this and we will be a stronger community for it.

Sincerely,

Chris

Christopher Tuttle

President & CEO

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

DDS Commissioner Message to Families – 5/22/2020

Official Message from DDS Commissioner Ryder to Families

To: DDS Individuals and Families
From: Commissioner Jane F. Ryder
Date: 5/22/2020
Subject: Coronavirus Update for Individuals and Families

Dear DDS Community:

Much has happened in the weeks since my last message. I’d like to provide an update on the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) response to COVID-19 as of Friday, May 22. As experts predicted, Massachusetts saw a surge of positive cases of COVID-19. We have experienced the surge across our programs and we have mourned the loss of those in our community — individuals we serve, coworkers, colleagues, friends, and family.

Now, after more than two months of staying home and tough protective measures, such as restricting all visitation, we are beginning to flatten the curve. The number of new positive cases identified each day are starting to decrease as we continue to socially distance and increase our access and efforts around testing. By engaging in distancing and protective measures, together we have saved lives. We must continue to remain vigilant as we move toward a new normal.

I have been so impressed with your resourcefulness and resilience in this uncertain time. I have heard wonderful stories of families finding new ways to connect remotely and staff going above and beyond during this public health crisis. We have seen big and small acts of creativity, commitment, and compassion in our community every day.

As Massachusetts and the nation look toward a slow and cautious reopening, our priority at DDS is the health and safety of the individuals we serve and our staff. We will continue to focus on three key factors to keep people safe: infectious disease precautions, personal protective equipment (PPE), and testing.

I know there is anxiety and many questions around re-opening. Visitation, day and employment programs, and transportation are at the front of our minds. As we look to restart operations, we are committed to making this process as smooth and safe as possible. This means making decisions based on data and following the latest advice from public health experts. While we don’t have all the answers today, we look forward to hearing your ideas and feedback.

DDS is actively working with public health experts on safe visitation protocols that will keep you, your loved one, and their caregivers safe. We will announce any updates to the current visitation protocol as soon as we are able. Additionally, we are working with our provider community to plan the path forward for day programs and transportation services. We will continue to communicate with you as plans develop.

In the meantime, we want to hear your ideas. Let us know the biggest ways in which all this is impacting you and what you’d like to see from us. As we work through the rest of this pandemic — as always — please feel free to get in touch and give us feedback through our website or share ideas with your Service Coordinator.

Your Area Office is here to support you and will remain in contact with you to ensure your loved one is receiving services and both your needs are addressed. We will update the DDS website and social media as information becomes available.

Please see below for further updates about the DDS response to COVID-19.

Thank you,
Jane F. Ryder
Commissioner
Department of Developmental Services

Family Support
DDS-funded Family Support Centers continue to provide assistance and support to families through this crisis and are here for emergency support and information about local resources. Please contact your DDS Area Office if you need help connecting with your local Family Support Center.

Visitation
To keep your loved ones and their caregivers safe and healthy, in-person visitation to group homes and residential facilities remains prohibited, except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end-of-life. DDS is actively working with public health experts on safe visitation protocols to help you see your loved ones in a way that keeps you, your loved ones, and their caregivers safe. We will announce any updates to the current visitation protocol as soon as we are able.

Guidance for Residential Programs and Facilities
DDS has been focused on providing clear guidance to support residential programs and facilities in order to best care for the individuals we serve. Beyond the guidance document for residential programs (last updated April 13), DDS has also organized for infectious disease consultation services to be available. The staff at the Hogan Regional Center and Wrentham Developmental Center, our state-operated group homes, and provider-operated group homes continue to consult with infectious disease specialists to provide care and ensure operational protocols meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) guidelines and standards.

Access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
We are working in collaboration with DPH and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to continue to procure and provide access to PPE and cleaning supplies, and DDS programs have an adequate supply to meet needs. DDS state-operated homes and facilities submit lists of their current supplies and their needs semiweekly, while DDS providers may request emergency PPE through MEMA.

Testing
We are continuing to provide testing to residents and staff in DDS state-operated or provider-operated residential programs through a partnership with Fallon Ambulance and MassHealth. As of May 20, Fallon has visited over 1,300 DDS sites and tested over 16,000 individuals and staff. DDS and its provider agencies have also organized over 30 testing pop-ups across the state to provide greater access to testing for those who work most closely and do the most for the individuals we serve. So far, we have tested over 4,500 staff at these pop-up sites. DDS has also created social stories and checklists (both visual and audio resources available on our website) to help prepare individuals for swab testing or a mobile testing visit. DDS Offices Regional and Area Offices remain closed to the public for visitation. Please contact your Area Office by phone or email regarding services and supports, and our staff will return your message.

Health
If you or anyone in your family has symptoms of illness (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) or potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus, please take these steps:

  • Check your symptoms online: buoy.com/mass.
  • Contact your primary care physician and follow their guidance.
  • Contact the Massachusetts DPH epidemiology line: (617) 983-6800.

For the latest information on COVID-19, please call 2-1-1 or visit: mass.gov/covid19

Disabled Persons Protection Committee (DPPC)
To report suspicion of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse or neglect of a person with a disability, contact the DPPC 24-hour hotline:

  • 1-800-426-9009
  • 1-888-822-0350 (TTY)

Supportive Technology Stories
DDS would like to feature stories of success with supportive technology so others may see the uses and benefits of these tools. If you’ve had success using supportive tech, such as tablets, voice assistants, telemedicine, or remote services, let us know. Get in touch on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DDSmass to share your story.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Friday, May 1, 2020: Day Programs Closed till further notice

Bridgewell’s Day Habilitation Programs, Employment Support Programs and Transportation Services will not be opening on Monday, May 4 due to Massachusetts extending the non-essential business closures and stay at home advisory until May 18. We have not yet been notified by the Commonwealth when these programs can reopen.  We will notify you as soon as we hear; it will not necessarily be May 18. These programs are closed until further notice. Thank you.

Monday, April 20, 2020

COVID-19: Take Advocacy One Step Further on Hazard Pay for DSPs!

Advocacy

Bridgewell needs your help right now! This past week, all state employees who work in I/DD group homes received a $5 or $10 per hour “hazard pay” increase for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, but there was no “hazard pay” allocated for the staff of community providers, like Bridgewell. Tell Governor Baker to rectify this disparity for essential staff immediately by granting the same “hazard pay” during the COVID-19 crisis that was provided to their state employee counterparts.

Have your voice heard and act now!

Time is of the essence to have an impact.

Thank you.

A Message from Bridgewell’s President & CEO

From Bridgewell’s President & CEO

You hear everyone saying these are unprecedented times, and they are. It’s very unsettling for us all. But at Bridgewell, we continue to support the people we have the privilege of serving just as we did last month and last year. We have made adjustments, accommodations and taken extra precautions to follow the CDC’s and the Governor’s guidelines, but Bridgewell staff continues to provide consistency, comfort, and safety to the people in our services.

We often hear that we need to remember and thank hospital staff and first responders because they are on the front-lines, and we should thank them. But society also needs to remember the countless front-line staff who work in 24/7 residential programs, recovery programs, and mental health clinics.

These staff members are not working from home. They are leaving their families and the security of their homes to work and care for a population who needs them. These staff members are essential to the wellbeing of thousands. The majority of staff at Bridgewell are front-line, dedicated staff who are working tirelessly to ensure the individuals and families in Bridgewell services are well cared for.

It is during times like this that you see the best in humanity. Over this past week, I have seen the best of Bridgewell. I am incredibly proud of our community. Staff has stepped up and met this crisis head on while assuring that everyone is well cared for. So, when you come across a Bridgewell residential, clinical, or support staff please take a moment to thank them for their sacrifice and commitment.

With deep appreciation and gratitude to our almost 1400 employees.

– Chris Tuttle, President & CEO

In today’s climate, the importance of our work is even more critical for the most vulnerable in our community. This pandemic has created a substantial gap in funding. Please help us continue to provide these vital services by making a gift today.

DONATE NOW

Phone Updates from CEO Christopher Tuttle

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle, President & CEO, and today is Thursday, June 11. As of this morning, we have 3 staff members and 5 people…

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Friday, June 5, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle, President & CEO, and today is Thursday, June 4th. As of this morning, we have 3 staff members and 10 people…

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle, President & CEO, and today is Thursday, May 28. As of this morning, we have 1 staff member and 11 people…

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle, President & CEO, and today is Thursday, May 21. As of this morning, we have 8 staff and 18 people in…

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle, President & CEO, and today is Monday, May 18. As of this morning, we have 8 staff and 23 people in…

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle, President & CEO, and today is Thursday, May 14. As of this morning, we have 8 staff and 30 people in…

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle, President & CEO, and today is Monday, May 11. As of this morning, we have 31 staff and 30 people in…

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Friday, May 8, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Elaine White, Chief Operating Officer and today is Thursday, May 7. As of this morning, we have 41 staff and 31 people in…

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle President & CEO and today is Monday, May 4. As of this morning, we currently have 22 staff and 21 people…

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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle President & CEO and today is Thursday, April 30. Over the last two weeks, the DDS Fallon mobile testing unit has…

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Monday, April 27, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle President & CEO and today is Monday, April 27. Starting off this week, we have 39 staff and 11 people in…

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle President & CEO and today is Thursday, April 23. As of this week, we have 37 staff who are positive. We…

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle President & CEO and today is Monday, April 20. As of this morning, we have eleven people in our services who…

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle President & CEO and today is Thursday, April 16. As of this morning, we have eight people in our services who…

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Monday, April 13, 2020

In an effort to keep families and guardians informed, President & CEO Chris Tuttle has implemented a twice-weekly phone message. Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle President…

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Thursday, April 9, 2020

In an effort to keep families and guardians informed, President & CEO Chris Tuttle has implemented a twice-weekly phone message. To hear today’s message, please call 339-883-2201. Thank you.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle President & CEO and today is Monday, April 6. As of this morning, we’ve had our first person in our services…

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Christopher Tuttle President & CEO and today is Thursday, April 2. I am happy to share that we continue to not have anyone…

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Hello Bridgewell Parents & Guardians. I am Chris Tuttle President & CEO and today is Tuesday, March 31.  Bridgewell’s Day Habilitation and Employment Support Programs are closed until May 4. The no visitation policy at…

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