May 22 DDS Update
To: DDS Individuals and Families
From: Commissioner Jane F. Ryder
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.
Jane F. Ryder
Department of Developmental Services