Your source for COVID-19 information, resources, and program updates at Advocates.
As COVID-19, more commonly known as Coronavirus, continues to be a concern across our country and the world, we are taking these concerns very seriously and working diligently to prevent the spread of the virus at Advocates. Find the most recent updates and information here.
3/23/20 - we have one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Advocates community. We are following both the protocols issued by DPH and our own protocols. Employees who may have interacted with the staff person have been informed, and we have taken extra steps implementing safeguards. We continue to monitor and enhance our practices as more information becomes available.
4/4/20 - Unfortunately, we have sobering news to share. This week, a member of the Advocates community passed away due to complications from Coronavirus. We are terribly saddened to hear this and express our deepest sympathy to their family and those who supported them. The older adult was served by our Outpatient Clinic Outreach Team and contracted the virus during hospitalization for an unrelated condition. There are no concerns of any Advocates community member or employee being exposed.
- Updates for Staff
- Updates for Families
- Resources for Families
- Advocates Program Updates
- Community Updates from Advocates President & CEO
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A Message from our President & CEO:
We understand there are many worries you may have regarding your loved ones and family members supported by our programs at Advocates during this unprecedented time. As an organization we value transparency and honesty. It is important that we share with you what is occurring in our community while understanding that this information often creates more worry and concern.
Several of you have reached out about the confirmed Coronavirus diagnosis of an Advocates’ employee. We assure you the employee has not been in contact with anyone served in our programs. They are quarantined and recovering at home.
Unfortunately, we have sobering news to share. This week, a member of the Advocates community passed away due to complications from Coronavirus. We are terribly saddened to hear this and express our deepest sympathy to their family and those who supported them. The older adult was served by our Outpatient Clinic Outreach Team and contracted the virus during hospitalization for an unrelated condition. There are no concerns of any Advocates community member or employee being exposed.
Our Services and Human Resources Teams have protocols in place to trace and track all contact for any suspected or confirmed Coronavirus diagnosis. These actions assist to ensure the safety and health of all in the Advocates community. We are fortunate that we have no other confirmed cases currently. Yet, this continues to be difficult. We are all in this together and appreciate hearing your kind words, questions, and concerns throughout this difficult time.
- On March 31, Governor Baker issued an order extending the closure of non-essential businesses and organizations for in-person operations until May 4, 2020. Advocates and our program staff are considered essential employees and will continue to support your family members and loved ones.
- All employees are continuously screened and monitored for Coronavirus symptoms before coming to work.
- If an employee has been exposed to someone who has a Coronavirus diagnosis, our HR team is taking deep measures to track and trace all contact they have had and having them self-quarantine.
- We have prepared residential locations to quarantine any residents or staff in the event that they test positive with Coronavirus.
- Our goal is for everyone in our programs—people served and employees—have a reusable mask to protect themselves against the virus. We are close to reaching that goal. We have begun to receive deliveries and generous donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and essential items, such as masks, gowns, gloves, toilet paper, etc.
- Your overall well-being and mental health matter. If you need help during this time, we are here for you.
- Advocates Community Counseling is available virtually via Telehealth, phone, or Zoom. New clients are being accepted. Call our general in-take line: (508) 661-2038. Learn more.
- Our Psychiatric Emergency Services is available virtually. If you are experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis, please call (800) 640-5432 to speak to an Advocates crisis clinician. We are available to help 24 hours a day, every day. Learn more.
We hope you are taking care of yourselves during this difficult time. Know that we are thinking of you and your family members. Our staff are doing a remarkable job in adapting to the challenges that arise during this crisis, all to better serve the people they support.
A Message from our President & CEO:
Thank you to all who have reached out. We are all experiencing these unprecedented times together and we appreciate hearing from you. The health and safety of everyone in the Advocates community is at the forefront of our minds while navigating the ever-changing information regarding COVID-19.
As you know, Governor Baker issued an emergency advisory requiring all non-essential businesses and organizations to close their physical workplaces and facilities until Tuesday, April 7. We assure you that Advocates is a designated organization providing essential services.
Our program staff are considered essential employees and will continue to support your family members and loved ones in residential group living environments at Advocates. We are prepared to continue supports and operations while following protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Public Health.
As of today, we have one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Advocates community. We are following DPH and our own protocols to ensure the safety and health of all employees who may have had direct contact with the person. It is important for you to know the employee does not work with people served in our residential programs.
To keep your family members and our staff safe during this time, we continue to monitor and enhance our practices and protocols as more information becomes available. We are working diligently to obtain and distribute Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), despite the nationally shortage. Our goal is that everyone in programs, including people we support, has a mask, and when needed, gowns, gloves, and face shields.
While everyone is practicing social and physical distancing, you may follow Advocates Facebook to catch our Healthy Heroes Daily Resources for creative virtual resources you and your loved ones can use to fill your day, engage your mind, stretch your muscles, and stay connected.
Please remember we are all in this together and we care deeply about your family members and loved ones supported by Advocates. We encourage you to reach out with any questions or concerns.
Updated COVID-19 guidance and information for DDS individuals and families from Commissioner Jane Ryder:
- To ensure the safety and health of everyone, there are several teams working diligently to provide direction, care, and support during this difficult time. Our Senior Leadership Team meets several times a day. We have developed a COVID-19 Management Team to support all programs, especially the group residences, and our Nursing Team meets daily to provide guidance, training, and support for all staff and residents.
- Every two hours, all high touch areas are being disinfected.
- All employees are being monitored and screened for Coronavirus symptoms before coming to work.
- Strict protocols for anyone demonstrating flu-like symptoms are implemented.
- We are being conservative with our measures to avoid the transmission of the virus. If there is a suspected Coronavirus case, we are functioning as if it is positive until we receive confirmed negative testing or alternative direction from PCP’s.
- We are working to ensure all programs and individuals we support have adequate food and supplies on hand.
- We have a stock of personal protective equipment, and we’re working with state authorities to ensure that we have an adequate supply going forward.
- Along with all other providers in the area, we have closed our Day Support program in Ashland until April 6.
- We are utilizing Telehealth and Zoom for counseling, psychiatry, and to check in on people served when appropriate or as requested.
- When someone we support in our residential programs is diagnosed with the Coronavirus, we will activate a Response Team to provide immediate intensive support, nursing direction, and personal protective equipment (PPE) so that your loved ones will be cared for safely. The Response Team will support and direct all action in the home. The nurses are instructed under the direction of our Chief Medical Director. We are currently exploring ideas and options for isolating individuals served.
- To help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus, we ask that NO VISITORS are allowed in any Advocates Group Living Environments (not including our Shared Living program) until further notice. Exceptions include Visiting Nurses, Home Health Aides, Cleaning Crews, Advocates Facilities/IT Staff for Emergencies Only, and Emergency Personnel. These individuals are instructed to wash hands immediately and disinfect faucets.
- Coronavirus Update for DDS Individuals and Families from Commissioner Jane Ryder.
Simple Language - COVID-19 Information By and For People with Disabilities
Social Story - My Coronavirus
Healthy Heroes Daily Resources - Follow Advocates on Facebook for virtual activities and resources or your and your loved ones to use to fill your day, engage your mind, stretch your muscles, and stay connected.
Autism Alliance - Follow Autism Alliance on Facebook for social stories, resources, and program updates.
Six Tips For Anxiety and Fear in American Sign Language (ASL) - Watch Dr. Wilson offering tips for anxiety and fear on DPAN.TV.
CDC's COVID-19 Information in ASL - Watch here.
Multilingual COVID-19 Information - Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition
- Life Skills & Learning Center - Day services at Advocates Life Skills & Learning Center in Ashland areclosed until further notice.
- Brain Injury Day & Community Services - Day services at Advocates Brain Injury Day & Community Services in Lexington are closed until further notice.
- Advocates Community Counseling - All services, including therapy and psychiatric medication appointments, provided through Advocates Community Counseling in Framingham, Marlborough, Harvard, and Waltham are virtual - through Telehealth, phone, or Zoom - until further notice. There are no walk-in hours or appointments being run in office locations. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, please call our intake line at (508) 661-2038.
- The Living Room - Our 24-hour crisis alternative program, The Living Room, is closed for all in person visits and support groups. We will continue to support individuals experiencing emotional distress or a mental health crisis by offering 24-hour phone support. If you are struggling, please call (508) 661-3333 to connect with one of our caring certified peer specialists.
- Residential Programs - To help mitigate the spread of the virus, we ask that NO VISITORS are allowed in any Advocates Group Living Environments until further notice. Exceptions include Visiting Nurses, Home Health Aides, Cleaning Crews, Advocates Facilities/IT Staff for Emergencies Only, and Emergency Personnel.
Dear Advocates Community,
As COVID-19, more commonly known as Coronavirus, continues to be a concern across our country and the world, we are taking these concerns very seriously and working diligently to prevent the spread of the virus at Advocates.
We care deeply about the health of you and our community—whether you are a person served, family member, community member, or employee—and are taking significant steps to manage prevention across all our programs and services at Advocates.
We currently have no reports of Coronavirus infecting any member of the Advocates community. Our primary focus is prevention and our actions include:
- Frequently disinfecting all high touch areas in all our programs and offices (including doorknobs, counters, vehicles used for persons served transportation, etc.)
- Monitoring staff and people we support for any sign of illness or exposure.
- Monitoring staff travel.
- Educating staff and persons served on the importance of hand washing and other universal precautions.
- Asking any staff or visitors experiencing any flu-like symptoms to not enter any programs or offices.
- Canceling and limiting events and meetings that bring large groups together.
We’re also staying up to date on the latest information on the Coronavirus and you can too by visiting:
- Mass.gov: Resources
- Mass.gov: FAQs
- Federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or Coronavirus.gov
- CDC COVID-19 in American Sign Language
Most importantly, please know that we care about you and your loved ones and want everyone to be healthy in the Advocates community. We’re encouraging you and our community to think ahead about how to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
We will continue to communicate any important information and actions taken at Advocates regarding the virus. Please feel free to follow Advocates on Facebook or come back to www.Advocates.org for updates.
President & CEO