8:18 p.m., Nov. 2, 2020
We have been enjoying a spectacular Fall filled with beautiful weather and lots of time outdoors doing fun activities! Our schools are now open with in-person teaching and our adult day programs are operating on an adjusted schedule to keep everyone happy and as safe as possible. However, as the days become colder and activities move inside, positive COVID cases have increased in almost every state, including Pennsylvania. In light of this, we wanted to reach out to share our thoughts around family visitations at Woods and home visits.
For the first time in a while, we have had several individuals, both clients and staff, who have tested positive so we know the virus is active around us. In fact, the number of daily cases of COVID-19 in Bucks County is currently exceeding the April and May levels. There has been a 46% increase in cases this past week. In other states, where many of our families live, positive cases and hospitalizations are increasing rapidly. This causes us great concern related to family visitation. Each week, we have over 180 families from different states visiting Woods.
With the cold weather approaching, moving these visits inside where these families will co-mingle, share social spaces, interact in hallways and shared meeting space, is not recommended by the CDC or our Pennsylvania regulators. We can reduce the risk of exposure to others by limiting visitors to Woods. With this in mind, we have decided for the safety of your loved one, other residents and our staff, to postpone family visitations on campus for the foreseeable future.
We continue to stress COVID precautions with our staff and residents and are now requiring many of our staff to wear face shields in addition to their masks for added protection from spreading or contracting the virus. All non-essential employees continue to be required to work from home. Our direct care staff are essential employees. Their coming to work is required for the safety of our residents. We encourage them to exercise the same precautions outside of Woods as we require when they are here.
At this time, Woods is not supporting home visits including for the holidays. Contact tracing of recent positive cases in the United States shows that the uptick is primarily from small family and friend gatherings. Our top priority is to ensure the health and wellness of the individuals we serve and the staff who provide their care, so it is in everyone’s best interest for us to limit exposure and risk. We realize a select few parents may choose to take their loved one off-campus for a home visit against general recommendations.
For that reason, we have established a protocol for Thanksgiving or other Leaves of Absence (LOA) for families that take a loved one home against our advice.
GUIDELINES FOR VISITS HOME
- Visits must be pre-arranged through your Care Coordinator.
- Woods will not transport residents home, nor will they be able to provide support in your home should a problem arise during the visit.
- You must arrange a specified time for your family member’s staff to meet you at one of Woods’ entrances where you will pick him or her up to take them home.
- You must be wearing a mask when you arrive at Woods and throughout the duration of the pick-up.
- To ensure the safety of our residents and staff, we ask that while your loved one is home with you, you refrain from spending time in the community and/or in gatherings where social distancing is not maintained.
- Please make arrangements to meet staff at one of the entrances when you are returning your loved one to Woods.
- Residents will receive a series of periodic COVID tests upon return to Woods and will be quarantined within their residence for up to 14 days upon their return. The resident will be asked to wear a mask if they are able.
- During the quarantine period, the resident will not be permitted to attend day program or recreation activities.
Some of our residents either tested positive or had the antibodies back in the spring, and while it may seem that they are now immune, scientific studies indicate that there is no evidence for how long immunity lasts. For that reason, there will be no exceptions to these post-visit restrictions until further notice and guidance from the CDC.
We reserve the right to make changes to these procedures especially if on-campus cases increase. If this happens while you have a family member away from Woods, he or she may not be allowed to return until we can be sure it is safe for them to do so. Similarly, it is possible that Pennsylvania will again return to a “lockdown” of programs like Woods, and that may interfere with your ability to return your loved one.
Please know that we are putting these measures in place to protect 650 residents and students who either live here or attend school here, and our 1,800 staff as best we can. Other providers we’ve contacted are not holding visitations nor are they permitting home visits. We ask for your understanding and cooperation and ask you to please remain in touch with your Care Coordinator who will answer any questions that you have.
Knowing that this will be a hard time for our families and your loved ones, we are planning an extra special holiday season with lots of activities and fun. While we cannot hold our annual Winter Wonderland, our Recreation staff has planned a virtual tree lighting, visits from Santa, a mini Winter Wonderland for each residence to enjoy, and much more.
In summary, we are stronger together and have collectively worked very hard to keep your family member safe. We recognize how hard it has been and continues to be to cope during this worldwide pandemic. We are closely following the vaccine trials and believe that we will soon have a vaccination. We are working hard to advocate at the federal level to make sure your loved one and our staff are prioritized. Together, we can get through this and to the other side of this dreadful pandemic.
Dr. Steve Kolesk, Chief Medical Officer
Dawn Diamond, EVP of Operations
Tine Hansen-Turton, President and CEO
3:07 p.m., Oct. 12, 2020
Woods and Families Celebrate Direct Support Professionals
In September, we celebrated and recognized some of our frontline heroes during National Direct Support Professionals Week. We wanted to give the families of our residents an opportunity to email us with their stories or thoughts about people who support their loved one.
Here are some of our submissions:
My son, Adam, has lived at 14 Woodlands for more than five years now. This year, more than any, during the coronavirus, has been very challenging. But because of the dedication of the staff in helping my son understand how to live without my weekly visits I have seen him adjust as I never believed he would.
Thank you for an opportunity to say how much I appreciate the staff members who work with him every day and help him move through the days, weeks and months, moving from one activity to another. They know his routine that keeps him calm, the foods he likes to eat, the clothes he likes to wear, the place he sits at the table, and where he needs to be at what time. They watch out for him when he is pacing or out of sorts and talk to him when he can’t find what he is looking for. They have a presence that calms him and helps him feel at home. He needs his home and his room and he needs his staff to help him with his activities of daily living and to keep him safe. When something upsets him he knows he can count on his staff to help him figure out what is bothering him and when he needs his space he knows he can sing or spend time on his computer or look at his books and that his staff will stay with him and let him be himself. He knows he can have what he needs. When he knows it is time for snack or a meal he knows he can count on his staff to be there for him and when he wants to go for a walk he knows he can ask and his staff will take him.
Thank you to Akintunde who has been with Adam since the beginning of coming to Woods and taught him so many things about living with autism – especially learning how to calm himself down. Thank you for Alfred who has been his tutor at Workshop and has remained his faithful caregiver, and understanding what he needs to help him stay calm – especially Adam wanting and not having Workshop all these months. Thank you for David who is a faithful caregiver when Adam’s regular staff is not available – he is so patient – his calm spirit gives Adam a safe and happy evening whenever he is under his care. John recently joined the men at 14 Woodlands and I have observed Adam on my last visit accepting him and even if he called him “Louis” I thought John took us for a nice walk to see the horses. I am so grateful for the women caregivers at 14 Woodlands also – Kula, Hattie and Rebecca – they are so kind to my son and join him when he is singing and I appreciate how they enjoy my son and he doesn’t go without their attention. I don’t know what I would have done without knowing that each of them has been there especially through the pandemic – a time when I could not be there to check on him, to see if his socks with holes are thrown away, to make sure his pillowcase and sheets are clean, to check if his favorite foods are there for him.
Before Adam goes to sleep every night, he goes out to the living room and says, “Goodnight ladies; goodnight gentlemen.” And he will be 27 years old this month.💗
I hope this letter is sufficient to show my appreciation. I miss my weekly visits and I pray for safety for these precious staff members and their families that they stay well as they continue to care for my son. Thank you.
p.s. On a final note, I personally would not have gotten through this time without the help of Adam’s care coordinator, Stacey. I know she is not a frontline worker, but for me (and Adam) she has been a constant source of comfort. I think she has been there for Adam in ways that I cannot and that is a great comfort to me. My zoom calls with my son help us so much. I know she does that for all of her clients as they let her, but it doesn’t take away from how much I appreciate her. The timing of her leaving TWE and coming to Woodlands was a gift to the Auerbachs and I am grateful.
Over the 23 years my daughter has been living at Woods, she has had countless staff that have been dedicated to help her achieve more independence, improve life skills, and guide her difficult behaviors. These tasks undoubtable have been difficult, laborious and exhausting.
During the current COVID pandemic, the staff have risen to the occasion to care for the clients at Woods with dedication, commitment and admiration. During this time, Jennifer transitioned to a new residential unit which undoubtedly was not only difficult for her but all the staff that worked with her. The staff went the extra mile to get her through the roughest of days and nights. To each staff and administrator that helped every step of the way, I can not express my appreciation enough.
It truly takes a community to guide Jennifer through her life and I would especially like to thank Jennifer’s current one-to-one staff. She has a strong group of devoted women that work day and night with her. Not only is Jennifer lucky to have each of these women in her life, her parents, family and Woods are fortunate too!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Mallie, Famata K., Shay, Famata G., Marcella (Marcie), JT, Maryanne, Niji, D. Wells, GEE, Teisha, Allena, Shay, and Ebony.
Certainly, I have missed someone in this list and if so I apologize and thank you as well! Jennifer shares special tidbits from her day about each of her wonderful staff that I thought you may like to read.
Mallie, Jennifer appreciates you sharing your coffee and always being fair with her.
Famata K., you have held a special place in Jennifer’s heart for many, many years. Your kind and friendly nature bonds her to you. And of course she likes talking about Africa with you!
Shay & Famata G., Jennifer tells me how nice you are to take walks with her.
Maryanne, you have known Jennifer from the earliest of her days at Woods. You are family to her!
JT, Jennifer tells me how sharing you are (she is especially happy when you share your cornbread!).
Marcie, Jennifer tells me how nice you are to her and she especially likes talking with your little sister. Thank you for sharing your family with her.
Wells, Jennifer loves talking with you about your family too!
GEE, Jennifer cannot say enough wonderful things about you! She loves it when you are her staff and I understand you often stay late to have Jennifer. Thank you!
Teisha, Jennifer loves talking with your daughter and hearing about your family.
Allena, Jennifer can’t wait to get some clothes from you. You are very kind to Jennifer!
Shay, Jennifer always tells me how nice you are to her!
Ebony, Jennifer tells me you are very generous and you have surprised her with some special food treats!
Thank each of you for bringing your best to Jennifer every single day. Words can’t really capture my gratitude but know that I appreciate all you do for her.
Thank you so much for caring for our brother Joseph who resides at Maplewood. The family appreciates your kindness, patience and passion. A special thank you to Shadrach, the family values and respect your opinion, you are constantly going above and beyond to ensure the success of his progress. Your support and generosity is a blessing Joseph is incredibly fortunate to have you as his Direct Support Professional
The Gilstrop’s Family
I will never be able to thank all the support staff members at Birchwood enough. My son Joe moved into Birchwood the day the quarantine started and they have done a phenomenal job making him feel at home. I have not seen my son since New Year’s and they have kept him happy and healthy. Melissa and Kathy are always just a phone call away. Room doesn’t permit me to mention everyone by name but you have arranged a birthday party, gone to the store, played games, gone on walks, encouraged exercise been a friend and many other things. You all are very special members of the William’s family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Liz Williams
Thanks for asking for honors for our amazing Woods-family members. Here are a few entries from family members of David James in Brown Hall – Kathy, Brenda, and Glenn.
Shari and Toni in Brown Hall have been with our family member since he first arrived at Woods over 30 years ago! They continue to be a warm part of our extended family. Especially through the pandemic, we’re amazed at their patience and dedication with so many constraints and precautions. They’ve stood by us through good times and bad, and we could not feel more blessed!
Our family member has been cared for at Brown Hall for over 30 years. Shamiese stands out as the most skilled and responsive team leader that our family has worked with. We’re so glad for her care and support!
We’ve just about adopted Myrna at Brown Hall – she knows our family member as well as we do, and cares for him with the same attention we would, and probably with more patience! When we called our family member while he was recovering from Covid 19, our relief was immense when it was Myrna who answered the phone there–we knew he was in good hands and he would be just fine.
Paul and I want to express our sincere thanks and gratitude for the heroic work done by our daughter’s team at Heatherwood.
Kara’s building houses many medically fragile individuals and there was tremendous concern about keeping everyone safe during this pandemic.
Woods administration did an outstanding job of proactively making decisions which would directly affect the health and safety of all residents.
PPE was provided, isolation buildings were available if the virus did impact anyone on campus. I was amazed when we heard that staff had agreed to “lock down” in Heatherwood to insure that Covid risk was kept to a bare minimum. Kara’s primary staff, Olivia and Marie, were two of several who locked down from March until July. We kept in contact through FaceTime and their commitment to Kara and her well being kept us going during a very difficult and uncertain time. The entire Heatherwood staff from supervisors to nurses to direct care did a phenomenal job of keeping our loved ones safe and cared for. We consider them all heroes. We are deeply grateful for all they have done in an extremely difficult point in time.
God bless each and every one of you and God bless Woods.!!
Good afternoon, in honor of National Direct Support Professionals Week, I would like to honor several Direct Support Professionals working in the Brown Hall Unit.
The individuals are Elisha, Francis, Savion, and one other individual who I can not remember his name because he was not Ashanti regular staff. He worked with Ashanti during the recent two week shutdown at Brown-Hall. Perhaps Abdullah can provide the gentlemen’s name who worked with Ashanti during this past week’s shutdown. He deserves an honorable mention. However, for the sake of giving proper recognition to the Direct Support Professionals regularly assigned to Ashanti and who I feel made a significant impact on my emotional well-being as a mother who found herself helpless during the surge of the Covid-19 crisis and when Ashanti battled Covid-19.
I want to first begin with Savion. Savion has been assigned to Ashanti for almost a year. He has worked diligently learning all of Ashanti’s needs. Savion has served Ashanti in numerous environments such as: the Brown-Hall Unit, Woods Day Program. TWE, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, doctor’s appointments and general outings. Savion advocates very well for Ashanti ensuring that the nurse, shift leaders and incoming staff receive information regarding changes or needs Ashanti may have. During the time of Ashanti’s’ hospitalization, Savion was very helpful with assisting the nurses and myself with behavior management and ensuring that Ashanti’s needs were being met. The Nurses at Robert Wood Johnson-Somerset Neurology unit all said that Savion’s help created a better outcome for myself, Ashanti and the nurses unit. They called him a Gem!!
I totally agree. I believe Savion’s greatest gift as a Direct Support Professional is his character and his ability to remain peaceful, compassionate, nonjudgmental during the most challenging times. I believe this helps Ashanti well-being and it certainly helps me.
Elisha is a very proactive dedicated Direct Support Professional who also has an understanding of Ashanti’s needs and mine. I say mine because he has the ability to follow through with information to address any concerns I may have as a parent. He works well with Ashanti and ensures that Ashanti’s needs are communicated well with shift leaders, managers, nurses and other Direct Support Professionals. Elisha makes sure Ashanti stays connected with me via frequent telephone calls and facetiming. During Ashanti battle with Covid-19 Elisha provided comfort to me by making sure whenever he was assigned to Ashanti I was able to communicate with Ashanti. He relayed any concerns I had to the nurses and managers. I truly appreciate all of the hard work performed by Elisha during this difficult time. I believe Elisha’s greatest contribution as a Direct Support Professional is his ability to communicate with Ashant, his ability to communicate with me regarding Ashanti and his ability to keep other staff well informed about Ashanti before he leaves for the day. I truly appreciate that Elisha works so hard to meet the needs of Ashanti. I salute him.
Francis is another hard-working, committed, compassionate and respectful Direct Support Professional staff who I am always grateful whenever I see his approach in working with Ashanti. He communicates with Ashanti in a calm manner that helps redirect Ashanti when he is experiencing behavioral challenges. I believe Francis’ mannerism and positive attitude helps Ashanti relax and refocus in a positive way. Francis’ commitment to serving Ashanti and other clients was highlighted during Ashanti battle with Covid-19. Francis is a part of Ashanti regular staff and was part of the first group of Brown-Hall Direct Professionals who were quarantined with Ashanti. I was so happy to learn that he was a part of Ashanti care during that difficult time. He worked with Ashanti from the beginning of the Covid-19 illness to the end. Francis made me feel like I was there with Ashanti because he provided up to date information along with the nurses ensuring that I was able to see Ashanti and know exactly how he was doing. He along with Elisha provided me with the information I needed as a mother to sleep at night. It gave me great comfort knowing that Elisha and Francis were with Ashanti during his sickness. As a mother it warms my heart knowing that Wood’s Services employ great individuals who are truly committed to the work and even more committed to the clients and families. It is a pleasure to always support Wood’s Services and the individuals that make this organization so great!!!! The employees are as good as its leaders. Therefore, I salute the administration and management at Woods services.
Thank you all for your service
Marzeter Lynn Moore
I would like to commend the staff at 166, as well as all of the therapists who stepped up & went over and above during this trying time.
They put in those extra miles to insure the clients were provided with safe activities that kept them occupied & engaged.
I know this could not have been an easy task.
I appreciate all of you and thank you for your dedication and caring.
Stay safe and healthy!
I just want to thank staff especially one in particular her name is Mercey she does a wonderful job taking care of my daughter Michelle … she’s in the Redwood building
Since it’s Direct Support Professionals week I wanted to send a message saying that my family and I will be forever grateful for all the dedication, knowledge, initiative, problem solving, care, tolerance, skills, constant educating, intuition, consistent positive attitude, creativity, and joy that these talented people have given of themselves for 40+ years to my brother. They provide him with the best quality of life possible, and they do it with a smile. They are the most remarkable people I know. Thank you and please know that we do appreciate the thousands of sacrifices and efforts you put forward over the course of your careers. My brother has been saved hundreds of times over the years by them and he continues to thrive as best as his disabilities allow because of their integrity.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Ella and Nick
Thank you to all the wonderful staff at Woods. From the residential support staff to the medical staff to the special people who stepped in to care for residents, including Adam… who were diagnosed with Covid and had to be quarantined.
Finally, thank you to everyone at Woods for organizing family visits. We know it is not easy to make this safe, but it is so important for the residents and families to be able to touch base, especially when phone communication is not easy and online communication is not realistic.
It was very frightening for all of us, especially for Adam when he was diagnosed with Covid. It felt as though we were stepping into the great unknown. How would he manage? Fortunately, Woods gave him excellent care and he pulled through. We had excellent communication throughout.
Special thanks to Vicki for always being available to speak to us.
Larry, Howard, Nancy, Dina and Sam
Ella and Nick Shelton
How do you thank all the people who have made a difference in your loved one’s life???? Well, you just thank them all!!!
These times are “a changing” and I know our family members are in kind, loyal and compassionate hands.
It’s hard to single out just one person since I believe it “takes a village” to make a difference and the staff at Woods are committed and dedicated to making this happen.
I dedicate the song “To Sir With Love” to all the wonderful people who change lives everyday.
Thanks for making our world a better place!!!!! Debbie McGowan
Dear Woods services,
I want to thank all of the wonderful and caring professionals who directly support my son Jeremy … at 15 Woodlands.
I appreciate them all so much.
I especially want to mention Lisa who always shows her concern for Jeremy’s needs,communicates them and makes his room comfortable as I would if he were living at home for which I am grateful. And Jeremy is very happy around her!!!
She is wonderful!!!
Please see iRun for Val and staff on the 2020 virtual run for Woodside as well as the video that I have sent and posted online regarding all of the people that we are thankful for. Here is a picture of our most recent angel Aaron taking Val for a nature walk Aaron Saye Deon and Walter have really gone above and beyond during this pandemic to keep Val safe and happy.
As you know, I’m one of the more outspoken parents regarding my thoughts on Kate’s services and care. Well, since I visited Woods last Friday, I have been meaning to write to you about my wonderful experience. I had the pleasure of meeting two recreation therapists who were working with the animals at the time of our visit, Jen and Julie. After speaking with them, I knew what a fantastic job they are doing with the clients. It’s hard to express but the bottom line is that I realized that my daughter has so many more interesting activities available to her at Woods than she would have if living in our home, particularly during this pandemic. I’m sorry that I can’t better express what the visit meant to both myself and my husband, who was not there but heard the story secondhand. Please, if there is any way that we can support the recreation department directly, I would like to know about it.
While I’m relaying these thoughts, I would be remiss to not mention a few things…Kate’s clinician, Lora, who was available and checked in on her clients while out of work for weeks due to a personal family matter. She went above and beyond what’s expected. Another shout out has to go to Kate’s staff, who I have referred to as the A-team, particularly Laura, who is so great at her job and such a lovely person. Lastly, I must say that Miss Linda, who has known Kate since she started at Woods, is a great leader who I know always has my daughter under her watchful eye and has her best interests at heart.
Thank you, thank you.
1:18 p.m., Sept. 14, 2020
Heatherwood Staff and Residents Stick Together through COVID-19
Our Heatherwood staff has kept one primary goal in mind over the span of the pandemic – to keep our vulnerable population of residents living in the Heatherwood home safe and healthy. After making a key decision during the onset of COVID-19, followed by tons of hard work and sacrifices, our staff so far has successfully prevented these residents from contracting the virus.
For more than three months, our Heatherwood staff stayed on campus and cared for 27 women ages 17-80 whose complex illnesses render them more susceptible to COVID-19. Fifteen staff members committed to moving in fulltime, along with one nurse and two medical techs, to care for our residents while self-isolating. The staff worked a total of 16 hours per day and cooked for our residents, cleaned the facilities, and provided other kinds of physical and emotional supports. Woods also ensured that the staff was taken care of, both on and off their shifts.
“Two weeks to one month is what we initially thought,” said Rashida Clegg, residential director at Woodlands (then Heatherwood’s residential manager). “It didn’t dawn on us that it would go for three months. But things were changing so quickly, and we were prepared.”
“Woods supplied staff with cots, we had a lot of blankets, and by the end of the three months, the bed was comfortable,” Rashida humorously added.
A typical day began at 7 a.m. with staff bathing our residents, brushing their teeth, and dressing them. They cooked breakfast and either fed our residents directly or provided support needed to help them eat their food. After residents finished their meals, our staff completed various activities throughout the day such as standing in the “standing box” with our residents to help them strengthen their lower extremities, taking our residents out on walks or for bike rides, playing water games, listening to music and creating arts and crafts. Prioritizing our residents’ safety while outdoors, our staff coordinated all outdoor activities near the residence and away from other surrounding homes and residents.
Staff on evening shifts cooked dinner and fed our residents. Household chores were also completed, such as deep cleanses of hallways and bathrooms, to ensure living conditions remained sanitary.
Since these were long and demanding days, our Heatherwood staff motivated each other in fun ways. For example, in their workspace, the manager and supervisor would hide prizes.
“We would do riddles and hide the gift cards in different spots, and we took pictures of the staff finding them,” said Rashida. “There were good moments where people cooked and took care of everybody. It was a family-fun thing.”
Still, long periods spent away from home and family were what made some days tougher than others for our staff.
“This experience was difficult because I had to leave my five-year-old at home,” said Ronda, one of our staff. “It was hard, but I thank my supervisor for giving me peace of mind so I could make that sacrifice for the Heatherwood ladies.”
Theresa, another staff member, said that even though there were times of exhaustion, her colleagues kept her in a good mood.
“I can say that I have a great spirit by the encouragement of my manager, Rashida,” Theresa said. “She would say, ‘Momma, you’re OK…Momma, you’re not tired.’ And I did it. It was a great experience.”
Parents and guardians have appreciated the commitment made by our staff to care for their loved ones while keeping the families connected. In addition to our management team here at Woods reaching out to them and providing updates, our Heatherwood staff designated time each week to video chat on FaceTime with the families. Beth Angrick, the mother of Anna, said the staff “did the very best they could” to stay connected with her family using FaceTime.
Beth said it was those FaceTime calls that helped her and her husband get through the difficulty of not being able to see their daughter.
“It’s been hard for me as a parent,” Beth said. “We were able to go twice when they opened up outside visitation in July. I got to see my daughter and her staff members during outside visits, but I wasn’t able to go inside to see anyone. It’s been difficult, having a daughter who can’t live with you.”
Ernie Mann, the father of Jennifer, was able to see his daughter as well back in July. Before the lockdown, he would visit Jennifer at least once a week. But, FaceTime and phone calls made up for the lost time during quarantine.
“I would call into the nurse’s station, and I would speak to someone at least one…two…three times a week — whether it was nursing, direct care staff, or Jennifer,” Ernie recalled. “The staff has been exceptional. They went above and beyond.”
Susan Anderson, the mother of Kara, has been especially thankful for Heatherwood’s decision to quarantine her daughter and our other residents and limit family visitation, given the risk they could have presented to our residents.
“[Woods] made the right decision because at the time of the lockdown in March, my husband and I had COVID-19,” said Susan. “Some parents were a little more upset than we were, but we were not…because if we had gone on campus, we could have spread it.”
Family members such as Beth, Ernie, and Susan have shown their gratitude for our staff in many ways – such as treating them to meals, for example. Monica Moser, director of Heatherwood, would go to various places, pick up the food that parents would order for them, and bring it back to the campus.
Caring for our residents has especially been personal to Rashida because of her first-hand experience at home with a vulnerable family member.
“I have a mother who’s medically fragile and I was able to ensure she was safe,” said Rashida emotionally. “I can’t express the gratitude I have for upper management checking on my family.”
The success with keeping all 27 of our Heatherwood ladies safe from COVID-19 for three months is a testament to the dedication and sacrifices made by our staff. Using Heatherwood’s example, several other residences went into self-isolation for shorter periods of time in order to protect our most vulnerable residents. Woods is committed to protecting our residents, and with amazing direct support professionals we will continue to push through these uncertain times together.
2:30 p.m., July 20, 2020
Woods Keeping Summer Active through New Recreation Programs
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our residents at Woods are unable to take field trips and visit sites this summer like they traditionally have in the past. Thanks to the collaboration of our recreation department and maintenance team, Woods has replicated those community experiences for our residents to enjoy on campus.
This summer, Woods has transformed our campus to create an outdoor-friendly recreation experience for our residents, who range from as young as five to over 80 years of age. Several outdoor installations have been built by our maintenance team, which provide entertainment and education for our residents while also keeping them physically active.
One of those new installations is a nature trail, which winds through the woods and allows our residents and caregivers to appreciate the tall and impressive trees on campus. Midway through the trail is a clearing for Woods’ new outdoor classroom, which has already been used to kick off the first week of outdoor learning with a lesson on a live boa constrictor!
That’s not the only animal that has visited the campus recently, though. A large fenced in barnyard was also built as part of the recreation program, where our residents have cared for three alpacas, three baby goats, horses, and chicks. Residents have also built homes for toads through arts and crafts and have even received a visit from a one-year-old box turtle.
The barnyard and the nature trail have been received very well so far from the residents as well as their loved ones who have been able to start visiting the residents again late June, according to Beth O’Toole, assistant vice president of recreation and aquatics. “We’ve heard nothing but good things,” she said. “Families could walk over to the barnyard, and the reactions from their parents have been awesome.”
The barnyard and nature trail are just two of many activities that Woods residents can experience this summer as part of their recreation program. Woods’ new sensory garden, planted with lavender and mint to smell, also provides them a chance to see its wind spinners and hear its wind chimes. A 9-hole miniature golf course has also been installed on campus for their enjoyment, along with an outdoor movie theater that can accommodate groups of 10 while keeping the residents socially distant.
Woods’ recreation department is comprised of a team dedicated to providing a fun, educational, and safe environment for our residents. O’Toole started at Woods as a lifeguard while completing her freshman year at Clarion University. Now, holding a degree in special education and early childhood education, O’Toole has combined her passion for teaching children with years of experience at Woods to bring a variety of activities to Woods’ backyard. One may think that creating this recreational space in response to the pandemic was a daunting task, especially given the short time period. However, the project was looked at as more of an opportunity than a challenge, said O’Toole. “We were given the opportunity to step back, take a look at things, and ask ourselves, ‘How can we be as accommodating as possible to our residents? How can we make this the best summer ever?’”
The enhancements to the recreation program did not begin with building the outdoor facilities. Earlier this year, O’Toole and her team at Woods responded quickly and creatively to residents having to be quarantined in their residence facilities due to the pandemic. The recreation department started a daily television show called Woods World News that aired in the residence halls and includes a segment on world news and a message from our staff members to give our residents an opportunity to still see their faces. Boredom buster jars were sent to our residents with packets and activities, as well as themed baskets for movie nights and spa packages.
Now that our residents can have some outdoor fun this summer, Woods’ highly sought-after outdoor swimming pools (Brown Hall and Oakwood) have also reopened to add to the exciting news. Although the number of residents allowed in the pools at one time has decreased to encourage social distancing, the pools are still presented as another option for our residents to have some fun in the sun.
Thanks to our recreation department and maintenance team, our residents will have a summer to remember!
FAMILY VISITATION INSTRUCTIONS
We look forward to reuniting our families with their loved ones during a scheduled upcoming visit at Woods. The plan for family/friend visits has been developed based upon Woods-wide protocols and individualized needs and supports. The safety steps outlined below for visitation days are intended to provide the highest level of safety for our residents, their visitors, and our employees. Our plan was developed to ensure adherence to the guidance provided by the Governor, the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and the Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF).
You must have a scheduled appointment in order to visit. If you have not scheduled an appointment, please email email@example.com to schedule your first visit according to the time slots remaining open below.
Schedule for first round of visits:
Thursday, June 25
Friday, June 26
6:00-7:30 APPOINTMENTS OPEN
Saturday, June 27
6:00-7:30 APPOINTMENTS OPEN
Thursday, July 2
9:00-10:30 APPOINTMENTS OPEN
11:00-12:30 APPOINTMENTS OPEN
1:00-2:30 APPOINTMENTS OPEN
3:00-4:30 APPOINTMENTS OPEN
PLEASE READ BEFORE YOUR VISIT
- Please enter Woods through our Route 413/Pine Street entrance. We will provide additional instructions from there.
- Your visit will occur under a small individual family tent that contains a table and three chairs. You are welcome to bring food to share with your loved one.
- A maximum of two visitors are allowed per Woods resident.
- Large amounts of food/beverages intended to be taken back to the residence will not be accepted. Please do not bring coolers and bags of groceries and drinks to the visit.
- Visitors will be required to wear a face covering over the mouth and nose for the duration of the visit. Residents who are able will also wear a face covering.
Before the visit:
- Visitors will record their temperature at least once per day and symptoms for three (3) days prior to visiting. Any progressive temperature increases, or a temperature above 99.9, may be indicative of an illness and the visitor must notify Woods and will be required to reschedule the visitation after all symptoms resolve.
- If anyone experiences symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 who lives or works in the residence of someone scheduled for a visit, that visit will be re-scheduled for a later date.
- Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled time slot to allow time for the check-in process.
- You will be asked to provide identification and once verified, will be given a Visitor name tag to wear.
- Visitors will be asked the following questions and be required to sign a document attesting to the following:
- Have you been tested for COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks? If so, what was the result?
Individuals with a positive result within the past 14 days or with results pending will be required to reschedule their visit.
- Have you had a temperature above 99.9 in the past 24 hours?
Individuals who respond yes will be asked to postpone their visit.
- Have you had a fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell within the past 14 days?
Individuals who respond yes will be required to reschedule their visit.
- Have you or someone you live with (i.e. family member or friend) or someone you share a workspace with tested POSITIVE for COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks (14 days)?
Individuals who respond yes will be required to reschedule their visit.
- In the past 14 days, have you traveled by plane? Individuals who respond yes will be required to reschedule their visit.
- Have you been tested for COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks? If so, what was the result?
- Visitors will have their temperature taken upon arrival. If the highest of three temperature readings is above 99.9 degrees, visitors will be required to reschedule their visit.
- All visitors will be required to wear a facial mask over their mouth and nose through the entirety of the visit. Visitors without a mask or observed removing their mask will be required to end their visit.
- Visitors will be asked to sanitize their hands immediately prior to meeting with their loved one. We will provide this at the check-in area.
- Following the visit, we ask both the resident and visitors to use hand sanitizer.
After the visit:
- Visitors should monitor their temperatures and symptoms for three (3) days after visiting, and are asked to contact their loved one’s Woods care coordinator if symptoms develop.
- Should someone in the residence test positive for COVID-19 within three (3) days of the visit, Woods personnel will notify visitors who may have been exposed.
Management will monitor visits from a distance to ensure compliance, not to be intrusive. Woods reserves the right to terminate or deny visitation privileges to anyone who does not comply with these steps.
Woods clinical staff is working with program teams to identify individuals we serve who may need extra support during a visit or who may be challenged to have a successful visit.
A record of all visits and related documentation will be maintained.
This visitation plan will remain in place into the foreseeable future and will be adjusted as additional guidance is given to us by the State. We ask for your patience as we try to get everyone scheduled for visits. We will make every effort to accommodate you, but also ask for your flexibility and understanding in return.
We look forward to seeing you and reuniting you with your loved one very soon!
7:30 p.m., May 6, 2020
Meet Darlene Barnes, Woods’ Infection Protection and Control Specialist
We are grateful to the many staff members at Woods whose expertise has helped us all to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among those is Darlene Barnes, Woods’ Infection Prevention and Control Specialist. This fall marks Darlene’s 40th year working at Woods. Her education, which includes a master’s degree in School Nursing and Health Education from St. Joseph’s University and a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Penn State University, and her decades of experience have always been central to our work, and that is especially so now.
Darlene says it has been the collaboration of Woods’ leadership team, medical staff, care coordinators, and direct care staff that enabled the organization to pivot quickly to prepare and respond to the pandemic while always focusing on the care and comfort of our residents and on keeping Woods families connected to their loved ones during this challenging time.
On Woods Preparation
In early February, Woods leadership acted quickly to form a pandemic response task force, Darlene shared. With each new development, guideline, and directive issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other governing and public health entities, the team has refined its emergency response plan. Plan elements include important protocols for everything from the crucial efforts for closely monitoring all residents and staff for possible COVID-19 symptoms to all social distancing and transmission prevention instructions, remote teaching details, no-visitor policy activation, distribution and training instructions for proper use of all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and preparation and activation of quarantine units as necessary.
As part of the preparations, “We looked at our resources and what we needed to do, and what we needed to fashion or purchase,” Darlene said. A lot of what needed to be fashioned or purchased was PPE for Woods staff. The team gathered and assembled the needed resources, preparing PPE kits that include eye protection, N95 masks, and either yellow gowns and foot coverings or a hazmat suit. The community responded, too, with donations of hundreds of handmade masks to Woods.
Caring for Residents and Families
“Our employees have been heroes,” Darlene said. “They perform vital and essential tasks, keeping families virtually informed, preparing our staff-cooked meals, keeping our environment clean, running school courses virtually. The staff created quarantine and isolation spaces in case we had to move residents. Our employees really accepted these challenges with such grace,” she said.
Our recreation teams made signs with messages of gratitude and held up these greetings as people drove into work, “which was so uplifting to our employees,” Darlene added. She also credited the IT staff, who she said has been terrific, not just providing technology for schooling, but also enabling families to be in contact with their loved ones through video conferencing and Facetime.
Darlene also described the Woods on-site Medical Center as significant to the response. “Our nurses and doctors have been just super during this time,” Darlene said. She added that the medical staff works in close concert with Woods’ direct care staff, who know our residents best and understand the nuances and preferences of every individual in our care. That insight has been especially important in helping residents transition as seamlessly as possible when a care routine evolved because of social distancing requirements, for instance, or in reassuring residents when caregivers began to look a little different thanks to their masks and gowns. “Nobody knows how to take care of our residents like our own people,” Darlene said.
The Woods staff is also working to maintain routines. “It’s important to try to keep a sense of normalcy,” Darlene added. “Our recreation department is creating activities such as social distancing egg hunts at Easter and outdoor walks, with social distancing, on nice days.” Hugs from residents are common, so the Woods staff has taught them that, for now, “Hugs had to become elbow taps and heel taps,” she said.
“Some of our clients have asked for protective equipment, and we have that available for them, too,” she said.
“The priority here is to keep people safe and healthy, always,” Darlene said. She follows the daily county, state, and federal briefings closely as well as a national tracking site. The emergency preparedness plan is continually reviewed and adapted as needed. “We look at the emergency preparedness plan and we tweak it constantly,” Darlene said. The goal, she said, is to create a blueprint for this level of response for not only Woods but for other organizations in the future.
1:20 p.m., May 4, 2020
A Letter from the Union Fire Company and Rescue Squad
My wife, Natalie and I hope this letter and donation find everyone at Woods Services doing well during these trying times.
We are both volunteers at the Union Fire Company and Rescue Squad in Titusville, New Jersey. I am also a technology teacher at Hopewell Valley Central High School. Most importantly however, my sweet, beloved [family member] a 30+ year resident at Woods … Woods has provided him excellent care for nearly all of his adult life and my family is profoundly grateful. [Our family member] is deeply loved by his siblings and many nieces and nephews. Seeing that his exceptional needs were met was the singular greatest calling in his parents’ lives.
Recently, I was able to leverage my role in both the school and emergency services to put twelve 3D printers in service printing essential PPE for our local first responders and front line medical workers. We’ve gotten some regional press for our efforts, and I’ve included the article that was on [April 17’s] Trenton Times cover. Our efforts have produced over 1500 face shields and gotten them into the hands of the professionals who need them most. We consider the dedicated care professionals at Woods to be nothing short of vital to all of the families they serve, and we want to help make sure that they are equally as well provided for.
Please distribute the 75 included face shields to Woods staff wherever you determine they will have the greatest impact at flattening the COVID-19 curve. We’ve also included some 3D printed “Ear Saver” clips for those of your staff who need to wear a face mask over their ears all day every day. Your tireless work is always appreciated, but especially right now. Thank you!
Michael and Natalie Sullivan
… along with the entire Sullivan and Lynch families.
10:30 a.m., May 1, 2020
A message from Jani Sblendorio, a Woods resident’s family member
Dear Families and Friends of Woods Services,
As many of you all know all too well, one of the worst feelings you may have experienced as a parent or guardian is leaving your loved one in the care of someone else.
I remember that day when we packed Val up feeling defeated and drove him through the gate and on to his new home. My heart was broken, however, I knew from my research that this was going to be a place of hope for him.\
We were greeted by the Woods team, and Val met Tony and Marcelle. The first words I remember focusing in on through the fog I was feeling was when they said, “Don’t worry Miss Jani, we got him.”
From talking to other families, a similar conversation took place, and this phrase has been uttered many times by those who would start out being strangers, but end up being family.
Recently we were faced with feeling helpless again. Will my loved one understand why I am not coming? Will he be comforted when feeling sick as he is diagnosed with this virus? Will he understand that he is going to be OK when he learns that he tested positive?
I wanted to come up with something we could do as families to let our loved ones and the staff at Woods know we were still out there – that we are sending our love to them and blessings from a distance. When I saw that the Run for Woods was postponed, I asked if I could do the 2020 Virtual Run For Woods, and Woods immediately created the 2020 Virtual Run for Woods Facebook Group, which has been a platform of love and good wishes for the past few weeks.
This Saturday, May 2 at 9 a.m., I will be going on FB Live to run for Val, his peers, and the staff at Woods. I will be raising money for Woods to hopefully defray some of the unimaginable costs they are experiencing. I am asking that you gather your family and do the same.
I will be using this run because it lays out the miles for you. Turn down the sound. Pop in your favorite music, and grab a bottle of water (stretching first, of course). Start your Virtual Run at 9. Upon completion, fill out your certificate and post a picture of your family holding it on the 2020 Virtual Run for Woods Facebook Group. Add your positive messages for a loved one or special staff member at Woods. I RUN FOR VAL AND STAFF… whom will you run for?
On May 2, I will remember the words that Tony and Marcelle said (and adhered to for almost 11 years now) and say them to you: “Woods Services, we got you!”
To donate to my team, visit: https://donate.runforwoods.org/team/293116
6:28 p.m., April 17, 2020
Supporting You During Your Virtual Visits
We want to thank our Woods families for all of your support during this very challenging time. It has been a month since the pandemic necessitated the visitation restrictions, and we are aware of how difficult this may be for you and your loved one. We miss you very much, too.
If there is anything we can do to assist you with your virtual visits, please reach out to us. You can contact your loved one’s clinical team, care coordinator, or residential manager.
Many families have been using video chat on computers, tablets, and phones for their virtual visits. If your loved one does not have a personal computer, tablet, or phone, our clinical staff, and care coordinators have iPads and laptops that can be utilized. If helpful to you, we encourage you to reach out to us to help facilitate video and voice chats. We know some of you may not be comfortable with technology, so please let us help you if we can.
We suggest scheduling chats in advance through the clinical team or care coordinator. This will ensure a Woods staff member can assist, that an electronic device is available, and that your loved one isn’t scheduled for a program or virtual school at the time of your online visit or call.
We’ve seen how beneficial these virtual visits can be for everyone. Hearing that you are safe is reassuring. Talking about routines, normal activities, and programming your loved one is participating in is comforting. Woodlands Clinical Director, Denise Minguez also suggests reinforcing or reminding your loved one of the names of the individuals on their care team and encouraging them to reach out to their care team with any concerns they may bring up with you.
As always, let us know how we can support you. We are available to do anything we can to help make these visits special even while we are apart.
9:01 p.m., April 15, 2020
A letter from a family member
(This has been lightly edited to maintain privacy.)
Dear Woods Services/Beechwood,
I am always impressed with the superior care, concern and devotion that the Woods Services employees provide [family member]. It is because of them that he is alive and thriving today. I belong to a “support group” here in [location removed] for families that have loved ones in care facilities. My group is always astonished by the incredibly high standard that Woods provides. My [family member] is constantly being attended to and encouraged. He considers his caregivers his brothers and sisters. In the 40+ years I’ve been interacting with Woods, I have never had an experience where I was concerned about my [family member]’s welfare. All the residences have always been clean and my [family member] is always clean, and his belongings are well cared for. His health and emotional well being are the top priority of everyone from the drivers, to the delivery people, to the medical staff, but most of all the onsite care providers. During hurricane Sandy the staff came in and slept over and put themselves in jeopardy to be with my [family member] and make sure he wasn’t in harm’s way. The staff are always leaving their families during snow storms and risking their lives to take care of my [family member]. Now, they face a deadly health threat everyday to make sure my [family member] is safe, and they do this with care, a smile, and a positive attitude.
I have never been more pleased and confident that my [family member] is in the best possible hands than today. We are all fighting a world wide crisis and I know that the highly skilled, well trained, intuitive, knowledgeable, adaptable, genuinely dedicated staff are doing the best anyone possibly could to protect my [family member]. They have saved him from many health threats and situations over the years and it’s only because of them that he continues to enjoy the high quality of life that he has. Their critical thinking abilities are a true blessing. I have many friends that have loved ones in care facilities here in [location removed} and also in New Jersey. None of them are having facilities do as much as Woods in terms of protecting their loved ones.
Whenever my [family member] needs to go to an off site medical facility he has a Woods staff person with him to speak for him and comfort him at all times. It’s incredible treatment that goes above and beyond any other facility I’m familiar with. As I have said before, my family and I could not be more pleased to have Woods Services in our lives. It’s a privilege. Thank you!
9:40 p.m., April 1, 2020
I am writing to inform you that we have received confirmation of the first positive COVID-19 tests on our Woods campus.
Four residents and three staff members have tested positive.
We have developed a carefully thought out plan for what to do in the event a resident or staff member tests positive, and we are now implementing that plan. As part of that plan, the four residents who tested positive as well as others who may be positive based upon their symptoms, have been moved to our isolation residence as of today.
The nature of this virus is such that someone can be carrying without having any indication of a symptom, enabling them to infect those around them. So, although we have taken significant precautionary measures and our staff is practicing all recommended protocols for handwashing, wearing masks, and social distancing wherever possible, we have also operated under the assumption that we would be facing this scenario eventually.
Protecting the safety, health, and wellness of our residents and our staff is always our top priority. As news of the coronavirus outbreak evolved over these last several weeks, our response protocols were swiftly updated.
- As of March 11, we began monitoring all residents for possible symptoms, including a temperature above 100, cough, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, and a runny nose.
- On March 16, we began screening every staff member upon arrival on campus for every shift 24/7 by taking their temperatures. If the temperature reads 100 or above, they are directed to the Medical Center for a second temperature check. If that second temperature check shows a reading of 100 degrees or higher, that staff member is immediately sent home and directed to contact their primary doctor.
- As of March 17, we made the difficult decision to move to a no-visitor policy to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
As of today, nurses are administering an antibody test to residents at impacted residences as well as any staff there who wish to be tested. The test will not indicate if they have the virus. It should tell them if their body is producing antibodies to fight the presence of the virus. If someone tests positive for the antibodies, they will be given the COVID-19 nasal swab and be moved to isolation or, in the case of staff, self-quarantined until the test results are returned.
We will continue to monitor all residents for any of the symptoms of the virus that include a temperature above 100, a cough, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, and a runny nose. We continue to take staff temperatures and require them to wear surgical masks or N-95 masks if they work with our residents. Our staffing level remains strong.
I wanted to restate the protocols for our isolation rooms, which we communicated last week. Our residential and maintenance teams converted two of our homes to isolation residences containing negative pressure rooms. The residences are stocked with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other supplies. Staff members working in these homes are wearing head-to-toe PPE. Individuals who are positive for COVID-19 will remain in isolation until they are well and cleared by the physician. Any individual presenting with symptoms and who is not stable will be considered a medical emergency whereupon Woods emergency medical procedures will be initiated, and an ambulance will transport them to the hospital.
Please know that we continue to closely monitor developments so that we can adjust our planning and protocols according to what is being recommended by state and federal health officials.
While I know that news of these positive cases can feel unsettling, the Woods staff is here for support. We will continue to communicate with you on a consistent basis and will share news of any other confirmed cases should they emerge.
Our talented nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians, along with our dedicated and caring residential staff, are working hard to ensure our residents are well cared for. We appreciate your positive thoughts and well wishes during this difficult time.
President and Chief Executive Officer
3:20 p.m., March 26, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Pennsylvania schools have been closed as a means of containing the spread of the virus. Although this public health measure is certainly necessary, the Woods Schools recognizes the critical need to take action to avoid a negative impact on students who are educated through the Woods approved private schools, as they represent the Pennsylvania youth in need of the most intensive level of educational support. The Woods’ education team developed an action plan that will guarantee these most vulnerable, developmentally and physically disabled, medically fragile, and behaviorally complex students continue to receive instruction, supports, and services through a variety of innovative educational strategies and interventions.
The Woods’ residential and day students receiving IEP driven special education, related services, and in some cases, 1:1 paraprofessional support, are a unique group of youth whose learning cannot afford any significant gap in instruction. That is the reason that most of these students are deemed eligible for extended school year instruction. The school closing related by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to a halt the necessary educational instruction of these students and could certainly violate each student’s IEP. Of greatest concern is the risk of regression in an academic skill that will result if the Woods educators are unable to continue to provide the necessary instruction and supports.
The Woods Schools took immediate action to develop the following comprehensive plan to provide each of our students a full day of alternative instruction utilizing a variety of online platforms or other assistive technology. Enrichment packets have been developed for each day student that include related services activities. Through Microsoft team classrooms and the provision of I-pads, laptops, and other devices, our special education teachers, behavior therapists, and allied therapists will remotely provide each student with five hours of instruction and learning opportunities. Key components of this plan include:
- The delivery of student-specific content, instruction and specific learning as per the LEA
- The delivery of related services as prescribed in each student’s IEP to include FCS, music, health and physical education
- The continuation of classroom review, practice, evidence-based tutoring, social-emotional learning, enrichment and/or instruction of IEP goals
- Alternate strategies of monitoring to assess and document each student’s progress and identify any instructional modifications that may be needed
- The maintenance of on-going contact with student families and residential treatment provider staff to ensure a collaborative approach and to provide any technical support necessary to facilitate quality instruction
Phase I: Administrative Planning for Delivery of Instruction
Timeline: March 9-13
- Administrative planning for remote learning via Microsoft Teams App (MSTA)
- Prepare and inventory I-pads, laptops and other devices
- Call parents of day students to get updated contact information, emails, and identify homes which have devices for instruction
- Teacher, related services, administration, and staff log in to MSTA
- Administration pilot use of an app for meetings
Phase II: Extended School Closure Plan: (Began March 19, 2020)
Extended School Closure is defined as 5 or more consecutive school days when school is not in session due to local or state mandates (acts of God, governmental action, riot, war, fire, epidemic, pandemic, civil unrest, flood, acts of terrorism, earthquake, weather, other threats to the safety of students and staff, national emergencies, facility, mechanical, electronic, or communication failures, or any other cause beyond our schools reasonably foreseeable control.). This does not include scheduled school breaks. During this time, Woods Services began to pilot the use of distance learning with teachers and administration.
Timeline: March 16-April 3:
- An alternate method of instructional delivery
- Educational personnel start using an alternative method of instructional delivery via Microsoft Team App (MSTA) for all communication
- Administration test MSTA with individual teachers meeting to practice
- Teachers continue to prepare lesson plans, complete career to work portfolios and identify enrichment activities for students
- Enrichment packets for day students with related services activities are mailed to day students.
- Each teacher creates a Microsoft team classroom with their students and therapists.
- Teachers and Related Therapists connect with students remotely to check-in and troubleshoot issues.
- Correspondence and clarification with districts regarding LEA requests and directive during this time
- Development of daily schedule for student learning opportunities each day
Phase III: Specific learning opportunities for special education students based on their grade level and content needs
Timeline: April 3 and beyond
Deliver student-specific content, instruction, and specific learning opportunities as per the LEA. Learning opportunities are defined as independent or small group activities that reinforce prior knowledge, introduces new knowledge related to IEP goals, or depends on existing knowledge in a particulate subject/course. Throughout this phase, attendance and student participation in learning opportunities will be logged and tracked by teachers, therapists, and submitted to the supervisor. The goal is to offer students 5 hours of instruction and learning opportunities between the hours of 9- 3 with the teacher and therapists including art, FCS, music, health, and physical education so students’ progress can continue or be maintained.
Learning Opportunities and Instruction will be:
- Highly encouraged activities for students (unless parents or district make completion involuntary)
- The continuation of classroom review, practice, evidence-based tutoring (e.g., I-ready), social-emotional learning, enrichment and/or instruction of IEP goals as determined by the school-based team-based depending on the LEA
- Examples of instructional programs will include” a) iReady, b) Brain Pop, c) Reading A –Z, d) Unique learning systems, e) Second Steps, and other accessible online programs.
- For residential students: teacher-led and supported by education staff (e.g., 1:1 and teacher assistants)
- For day students: teacher-led education with the support of caretaker in the home.
- I-Ready math and reading instruction will take place when appropriate for students who are able to use and data will be collected on each session
- Activities that will take approximately 30-45 minutes
- An alternate form of progress monitoring will be used to monitor student progress and goals.
- Development of learning opportunity packets for day students who do not have home devices
- Goals that cannot be addressed via this format will be noted by the teacher/ therapist on the progress report.
- Related service providers and behavior specialists provide each child with an activity each day by email for them to complete, with the support of their family, in their area(s) of need.
- Day students will require a parent/guardian in the home to assist with accessing online instruction and to support them during their time completing the activities.
- Students who do not have devices at home have been handled individually and offered devices as needed.
- Wood Services will continue to be in contact with day student families via the IEP coordinator and residential families via the care coordinators biweekly (1 per two weeks).
- Copies of those communications are available upon request. LEA representatives can also be copied on future communications upon request.
Phase IV: Revision to Plan
- Woods will continue to review the plan as we receive direction from the Commonwealth and continue to adjust based on the daily updates we get from the State and local districts.
- Adjust the school calendar till June 30 to maximize school days for students.
While Woods Services understands that the Governor (as of March 23, 2020) has now extended the school closure to April 6, 2020, and with students tentatively able to return to school on April 9, 2020, Woods Services is proceeding with this plan above that can in place longer than April 6, if needed. Woods Schools continues to set up IEP meeting virtually or by conference call with families and LEAs for students placed with the school via contract/NOREP to make the necessary revisions to reflect the current crisis.
1:00 p.m., March 24, 2020
On March 23, the Governor of Pennsylvania has ordered numerous Pennsylvania counties, including Bucks, to shelter-in-place for the next two weeks. The order permits “essential staff” to continue to travel to and from work. Our employees are deemed essential, so there will be no interruption in the care we provide to your family members here at Woods.
However, the order does require us to continue our policy of not permitting family members to visit. And it now includes not allowing families to drop off items at our entrances to be delivered to their family members for the period of time the shelter-in-place is issued.
You are welcome to ship items to our residents at:
- Woods Services, Central Receiving, 469 E. Maple Avenue, Langhorne, PA 19047.
- You can use Woods’ main phone number, 215-750-4000, as the phone contact if you need one on the shipping paperwork.
- Please be sure to indicate the resident’s name and residence somewhere on the package so we can ensure it gets to him or her.
We have had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Woods and need to continue to reinforce our precautionary procedures with our staff.
We know this is a hardship for all of us, but we are required to follow and enforce the order issued by the Governor of Pennsylvania. Please be assured that residents are safe and well-cared for by staff who have placed their wellbeing as their top priority.
Let’s work together to “flatten the curve” of the spread of this virus so we can reunite with residents as soon as possible. As always, we will remain in touch to keep you updated when we have additional news to be shared.
6:30 p.m., March 16, 2020
Woods’ first priority is the health and well-being of everyone we care for and the staff who serve them.
Please know that those at Woods with the highest risk for coronavirus (COVID-19) are our 70 most fragile seniors and medically compromised residents in our Mollie Woods program but that anyone, regardless of age, is at risk of being infected and being a carrier of infection.
On Friday, March 13, the President declared a National Emergency, which prompted us to activate our Woods Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP). To continue to assure the health and well-being of our clients and staff, we continue to take extraordinary measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at Woods.
As of March 17 at 12:01 a.m., Woods is temporarily suspending all on-campus and off-campus visits with residents. We will continually re-evaluate this policy and governmental guidelines and will modify, extend or terminate it as the situation warrants.
Closures and Remote procedures
As of March 18 our 213 entrance will be closed to incoming traffic between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., seven days a week. Our entrance at Route 413/Pine Street will remain open 24/7. Our delivery entrance will operate normally.
Our schools closed beginning Friday, March 13, and will remain closed until March 27. Teachers will be doing cyber-education from home beginning March 30 into the foreseeable future until our state and federal officials tell us we can do otherwise.
We have canceled off-campus activities for residents. We are also suspending non-critical out-of-state medical or other appointments.
We are holding group therapies to help residents understand why people may be wearing masks, to allay their fears and concerns, and reinforce good hygiene habits.
As of Monday, March 16, administrative employees have been directed to begin a work-from-home schedule to further minimize both their risk of exposure and the risk that they would infect others. We are canceling work travel and all group meetings when it is possible to replace them with call-in meetings. All in-house trainings are canceled. Orientations, though, are still in place with social distancing. They will not feature groups larger than 50 people.
Human resources is currently developing its ability to work from home and will be closed beginning March 16. For urgent assistance from HR, please call 215-750-2982 or 215-750-4000. Woods will gladly reschedule any appointments or interviews once we’re accepting visitors again for the safety of all parties involved.
Visitors at Woods
Again, as of March 17 at 12:01 a.m., on-and-off campus visits will not be permitted.
Stay tuned for updates as we get daily updates from our national and regional health officials.
Woods reserves the right to take whatever further actions are required to protect our residents and staff.
Again, we have put these measures into effect to make every effort to reduce risk to our amazing residents and staff. We are continually monitoring the CDC recommendations, as well as those of our local health department. Please know that information is changing rapidly. Therefore, our plans are frequently updating. Our Coronavirus Task Force continues to meet daily and is preparing in the event someone at Woods contracts the virus.
We are grateful for your support and understanding as we navigate uncharted territory during this very challenging and unprecedented time.
If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.
11:43 a.m., March 12, 2020
As the prevalence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) grows, we become more concerned for the health and wellbeing of the people we serve. We believe we must take measures, to the best of our ability, to deal with this crisis. We will keep you informed as we have new information to share concerning our planning.
- We have instituted 14-day self-quarantines for staff who are currently traveling or recently returned from international travel (including cruises). Similarly, those in the foreseeable future who choose to travel outside of the United States or to a state in the U.S where a state of emergency has been declared (with the exception of local travel to and from New Jersey), are also required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
- We ask our staff to stay away from large group activities and events where it is difficult to maintain a 3-foot distance between themselves and others.
- We have canceled off-campus residential, educational and vocational activities that are held in enclosed public venues, but for those for whom it is appropriate, we will continue van trips, visits to the park, etc.
- We are suspending all resident home visits and non-critical out-of-state medical or other appointments.
- Our schools have made arrangements for remote teaching through the Microsoft Teams App should we need to close schools.
- We are canceling work travel and all group meetings when it is possible to replace them with call-in meetings.
- We have established a Helpline phone number for our staff and families to call that will be staffed from 7:00 am until 9:00 pm.
- We are holding group therapies to help residents understand why people may be wearing masks, to allay their fears and concerns, and reinforce good hygiene habits.
- We request that visitors exhibiting any signs of respiratory illness, those who have traveled as indicated above, or those who may have been exposed to someone with coronavirus, please do not visit. We are working on a plan so that you, our families, and others can communicate virtually with our residents and will keep you informed as we proceed.
We are continually monitoring the CDC recommendations, as well as those of our local health department. Please know that information is changing rapidly, therefore our plans are updating frequently. Our Coronavirus Task Force continues to meet daily and are preparing in the event someone at Woods contracts the virus.
We handle these emergency situations extremely well so I have faith that we will do all we can to get through this calmly and safely. We appreciate your support as we continue planning.
President & CEO, Woods Services
4:54 p.m., March 6, 2020
In light of the recent outbreak of coronavirus 19 (COVID-19), Woods has put into effect the following precautionary measures listed below to assist in ensuring the wellbeing of our residents, day program attendees, employees, and visitors:
Please follow the CDC travel advisories related to recent travel to foreign countries and avoid visiting Woods if you have been to any of those countries: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
While you are visiting, please practice the following:
- If you are not feeling well, please consider waiting until you are healthy to visit.
- Frequent and thorough handwashing or use hand sanitizer to keep your hands as germ-free as possible.
- If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or use a tissue and discard it immediately after use in the nearest trashcan and then wash your hands immediately.
These measures may change as there are further developments or advisements issued by regulatory agencies. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your cooperation which will help to ensure the health and comfort of the people we support and the staff who care for them at Woods.
Should you want further information regarding the Coronavirus, please visit the CDC site above or the Pennsylvania Department of Health at: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx.