FCA has served Long Islanders since 1884 through some difficult and challenging times and we continue to do so today in ways that limit health risks to clients, staff, volunteers and vendors. We recognize that in times of crisis, community needs increase and we are called to do even more. That’s why all of our programs have remained operational and our staff have worked hard to support kids, families and seniors through these unprecedented times. FCA is considered an ESSENTIAL business under Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order and our dedicated staff are ESSENTIAL Employees.
We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and since March, have adjusted our response accordingly. We are receiving regular bulletins from state and county health departments and getting regular updates from our funders, including NYS OFA, OMH, OASAS, OCFS and the federal government. Based on what we have heard from them most recently, here’s some guidance:
COVID-19 transmission is preventable. Here’s how:
- Practice everyday preventive behaviors!
- Limit unnecessary public trips.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water & use hand sanitizer
- Maintain strict social distancing of at least 6′ in all settings – even outdoors.
- Protect others and yourself by wearing a face/nose covering when going to public spaces.
- Dispose of used masks, gloves and PPE properly.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces often, including your keys and cell phone.
We have boosted our already thorough cleaning efforts at all FCA sites, have directed staff and contractors to pay extra attention to flat surfaces (including in agency vehicles) and we encourage everyone to take responsibility for limiting your potential exposure. If you don’t have anti-bacterial wipes or other similar cleansing products, soap, water and friction will often do the job.
We have posted signs in every site’s bathroom reminding visitors to wash their hands and all bathrooms are single occupancy only.
We have placed NYS DOH-provided signs on the doors of each of our buildings asking that people at high risk or exhibiting symptoms not enter our premises. All visitors and staff must sign in and out. Staff must sign health attestations on a daily basis and FCA strictly enforces New York’s quarantine rules and regulations. We are mindful that people who may be immunosuppressed or are over the age of 60 are at particular risk for COVID-19 related death.
While some FCA jobs or tasks require staff to be in the office or in field-based settings, other staff and volunteers are working remotely and delivering services virtually. We have welcomed staff back into the workplace on a staggered basis.
Many internal and external meetings are being conducted via phone or video link (Zoom, MS Teams, etc) rather than in person. Those conducted in person are guided by FCA’s policies regarding social distancing and attendance limits.
Our residential programs come with special challenges. Based on state recommendations, staff are screening residents and where indicated, helping those who present with symptoms access a higher level of care. We have isolation and quarantine protocols in place should the need arise and we have adequate PPE on-hand at all sites.
We are limiting external visitors to our sites, including program tours, contractors and volunteers. The names of essential visitors are being logged and everyone at every site will sign in and out.
Agency travel has been limited and visits to other agencies or client homes must be approved by a supervisor, especially if these trips involve public transportation.
FCA values the working relationship with our Universities and our roles in providing supervision and learning opportunities to students completing internships with the agency. To the extent possible, FCA will allow student interns to resume working with clients/staff on-site in our programs starting in the Fall 2020. This will be determined individually at the program level and be dependent upon the ability of all staff, interns, and clients to safely follow the COVID-19 prevention guidelines provided by government and public health experts. For those students unable to safely complete their internship on-site, FCA supervisors will work with the student and their school to provide comparable virtual assignments and learning experiences to complete their required internship hours.
Meetings at sites may not include more than 20 people and staff are urged to use caution when attending community gatherings.
All of our programs remain open and functional, though some program activities have been modified in line with government restrictions and public health guidelines. That will change based on further state/county guidance, and we have a well-considered emergency management plan for the agency as a whole and for each division/program/site should the need arise.
These guidelines are in effect until further notice and are updated regularly based on emergent verifiable information. We have implemented a comprehensive re-entry plan as we transition our services, volunteers and staff back into program sites.
All of us at FCA are very aware of the heightened stress and anxiety that many in our community are experiencing. We are in touch with public health folks regularly, we are troubleshooting issues as they arise and our number one priority is you and your health/mental health. When you take care of yourself, you make your family and our family here at FCA stronger. Take a deep breath. Draw on your experience, strength, hope and faith. And know that as long as we stand together, we got this.