Due to the increasing infection rate in Suffolk County over the past week, IGHL will be closing all Day Programs on Monday, November 30th and Tuesday, December 1st. We will keep you updated for any additional closings.
To the Family and Friends of IGHL,
I write to you on the eve of a holiday where we give thanks for the multitude of things we hold sacred within our hearts, especially those people who have endeared themselves to us and have brought us much joy and happiness throughout our lifetimes. This evening, as we begin to celebrate the holiday season, I am reaching out to you not just as the Executive Director of IGHL, but also as the guardian of my beloved cousin who resides in one of IGHL’s group homes. I can assure you that providing a safe and happy environment for your family member is just as important as providing the same for my own.
The difficulties of the past nine months have challenged the resolve of many of us unlike any other period of time in our nation’s recent history. Although our hearts may be filled with hope that the Covid-19 Pandemic will soon come to an end, we cannot afford to let our guard down. It is with this guarded optimism that I ask all of you to be diligent in continuing to protect yourselves and your loved ones during this holiday season. Please continue to follow recommended safety precautions: wear a mask when interacting with people from outside of your household, wash your hands frequently, and keep social gatherings small. By adhering to these guidelines, we can all do our part to slow the spread of Covid-19 and keep our community – and in effect, our loved ones – safe.
The IGHL family has managed to endure the past nine months through the hard work and dedication of our residential and day program direct care workers, assistant managers, and managers who have sacrificed their own safety to protect our loved ones; our nursing staff who have provided us with their medical expertise and guidance; our clinicians, who are implementing vital therapeutic services; and our program administrators who have worked 24/7 to coordinate our efforts and provide leadership to our staff. All of these hardworking professionals have continued to provide quality care while also adapting to stringent new health and safety guidelines that have been put in place to keep your loved ones safe.
We also cannot ignore the massive efforts of our support staff, who are constantly working behind the scenes to keep operations at IGHL running smoothly. The members of our Purchasing Department have been working non-stop since February 1st, acquiring massive amounts of PPE to distribute throughout the agency. Our Maintenance Department has been sanitizing our homes and day programs regularly. Our Drivers and Mechanics have made it possible for our loved ones to get out of their houses and into the community to enjoy outdoor activities. Additionally, our Quality Assurance, Human Resources, Finance Departments and other support staff have worked diligently throughout the pandemic to ensure that our front line employees have the best possible support!
Once again, I can assure you that we are providing excellent care for your loved ones and are taking many steps to keep them safe, and I am asking each of you to please do the same during home visits in the coming weeks. We must all remain resolute in our efforts. I wish you all well during this holiday season, and I hope that the start of 2021 brings with it a new beginning that is filled not with fear and anxiety, but with much joy and happiness!
We hope that this update finds you well and safe and enjoying the beauty of our Long Island autumn. IGHL and its affiliates remain healthy and strong, thanks to our tremendously dedicated and talented staff, as well as the support we always receive from you.
We would like to let you know about a few things that are currently influencing our programs and services; some that are affecting all New York state citizens and some that are specific to what we do.
First, we find NYS fine-tuning it’s covid-infection control measures, going from a “regional” to a new “cluster” strategy. So far, we haven’t experienced any additional activity restrictions in the areas we serve and certainly hope we never do. If in the case when anything does change, we’ll make sure that everyone affected knows, as well as how we expect to address those changes. The most probable changes that could occur would include day program interruptions or added residential visitation restrictions.
And like everyone, we're facing the covid emergency along with the annual flu season. As you probably know, regular flu symptoms look a lot like covid symptoms, so the fewer the number of people that get the flu, the better off we'll all be. In response to all of this, we're strongly encouraging everyone, staff, consumers, and you, to get the annual flu shot. According to the NYS Department of Health, and our own standards, we have to treat anyone showing just flu-like symptoms as possibly having covid, and nobody needs that.
We’re also experiencing some new rules about visitation in our supportive "cottage" IRA residences. We'll certainly be in touch with you if need be.
The recent NYS budget discussions have not be favorable to us. They're finding very creative ways to cut our funding in order to save their bottom line. We continue to work with our partners in the field in our attempts to secure the funding we need to serve our consumers. Please make it a point to support our efforts by contacting your local and state government officials as to the importance of continued and robust funding for our programs.
In this regard, we've recently been told that we will only be getting half of the funding that we used to when your loved one isn't with us; for instance, when they're home with you. That's the deepest cut any of us can imagine, but NYS imposed such a rule on October 1st. Someone from your residence will be calling you about ways that we can help you maintain your contact with your loved ones without putting our funding in jeopardy, but we'll need your help to do it.
Also, we all know that the holiday season is coming upon us, and we too are asking ourselves how to best share the holidays with our families and friends in a safe and enjoyable way. Unfortunately, the current health emergency will have more to do with our plans than anybody wants.
We’re in the process of planning activities that will help our folks enjoy the season while in their programs, again, in the safest way possible.
Regrettably, we’re still required to maintain our restrictions on visiting/entering our buildings and homes, of which continues to force visits to occur outdoors or off of our grounds; that worked out fine when it was 80 degrees and sunny outside! Now, we're scrambling to find outdoor space heaters and the like, so keep in touch with your loved ones' program to see what we can arrange. We are still able to arrange home visits for your loved ones, but the reentry rules still need to be followed, and again, our funding could be badly affected if such home visits last too long. And again, any changes in our “cluster” status could affect everything, and without much notice.
Back in 1970, when the Apollo 13 spacecraft was in dire straits and everyone was fearing the worse, the mission control flight director famously told his crew that "this will be our finest hour." That's the approach we hear from Walter every day; we're facing an historic dilemma that, with our resourcefulness and your patience and support, we'll find our way through and be better off for it.
As always, please contact us at 631-878-8900 if you have any questions.
We hope that this update finds you healthy and having enjoyed a beautiful summer season. As you know, it has been a unique and challenging summer for all of us; and we are happy to report that we’ve been able to maintain our exceptional level of care for all of our consumers in the midst of the current Covid emergency.
In July, we began to partially open our Day Habilitation program services; initially opening four programs and now expanding the service to three additional locations. (see our day habilitation program reopening safety plans posted within these updates) These openings were designed primarily to serve our consumers who live at home in the community; with more community-based consumers arriving at these programs every day.
We have also been able to provide Day Habilitation services within our residential programs for all of those consumers who have yet to have their Day Habilitation site open, and we’ve been able to offer community outings, and at-home visits and visitation to our programs for our consumers and their families.
Aided by the best staff you could hope for, and the patience of our families, friends and neighbors; as the saying goes, we’ve been able to make the best of a very bad situation.
However, we are concerned, and are monitoring very closely, two significant situations as they unfold.
First, the Covid emergency continues, now with primary schools and colleges open to in-person learning and the weather cooling down. Getting back to school these days has within it plenty of risks for both the children of our staff and our staff themselves who attend higher education classes. We’ve asked all of our staff to be mindful of where they go and what they do, in order to keep themselves healthy. We have already considered how we would need to respond to any kind of Covid activity within our programs; certainly, including the reversal of some of our visitation and reopening plans as they now stand.
Second, New York state has made it very clear that they will not be shy about passing along their fiscal issues to the providers and families that care for the intellectually disabled. We’re doing everything we can, and ask that you do the same, to remind Albany of its responsibilities to insure adequate funding so that we can continue to provide our programs and services uninterrupted.
We will do our best to keep you up-to-date regarding these issues and anything else you might have in mind. Please call us @ 1-631-878-8900 if you have any questions.
As you may know, NYS OPWDD is now allowing IGHL to reopen our Day Habilitation services. We have decided to reopen these services initially on a small scale; first, opening four of our Day Habilitation programs in Manorville, Center Moriches, Hampton Bays and Yapank. On Wednesday, July 22nd, these programs will be open for those individuals that live at home with their family. Below you will find the “safety plans” that we have put together for each of those locations.
Also, NYS OPWDD is now allowing our individuals to experience “community outings” and overnight visits with their families, as well allowing our individuals to return to their residences after an extended stay with their families. Below you will find the protocols that we’ve developed and will need to be followed in order to insure everyone’s safety. These protocols will be in effect as of Friday, July 24.
As always, we would like to extend our thanks and appreciation for your patience and understanding over the last several months. If you have any questions, please call our administration building directly @ 631-878-8900.
Over the weekend, OPWDD released new guidance relating to four areas: 1) Home Visits for Individuals in Residential Facilities; 2) Reintroduction of Individuals to Residences After Extended Home Visits; 3) Community Outings for Individuals in Residences; and, 4) Reopening of Day Services for Individuals.
Please be assured that our intention is to work within the regulatory guidelines to accommodate the people we serve and their families in the most responsible, safe manner. The regulatory guidance goes into effect today, July 15th, 2020. However, please understand that we will not be able to implement so many changes by that date, but please be assured that we will be as soon as possible.
To ensure the highest attention to safety and coordinated program implementation, our Executive Leadership Team will be working collaboratively this week to develop new protocols to integrate the new guidelines with excellence in service to those we serve.
We are projecting that our protocols will be in place and able to be implemented by Friday, July 24th, 2020.
Dear family members,
We hope that this letter finds you safe. First, we’d like to express our gratitude for your patience and support during the last three months. And, we would like to announce some great news that we’ve all been waiting for.
On June 16th, NYS announced that we could start allowing family members to visit their loved ones at our residential programs, starting Friday, June 19th! While we’re thrilled at the thought of seeing you again, we need to proceed with some caution to insure that everyone stays safe and healthy.
We’ve put together the following plan, as approved by NYS, that includes all of the requirements that are still being expected by our federal and state health officials. And please keep in mind that these requirements can change at a moments’ notice and that we’ll do our best to keep you in touch with the latest developments.
So, as of June 19th going forward, family visits can occur during our regular visitation hours; specifically, from 4:00p – 8:00p, Monday thru Friday, and 10:00a – 8:00p, Saturday and Sunday.
All visits need to be prearranged and scheduled by family members by contacting house management. In order to accommodate all families, for the first 10 days of its implementation, all family visits will only be able to last no more than 30 minutes. After the 10th day, visits will be able to be extended to one-hour.
To insure safety, only one family unit will be allowed to visit the facility at any one time, limited to no more than three persons at a time, with no family member being younger than three-years old.
All visitors will be expected to participate in a health check; the same health check that our staff experience every day. Family members will be expected to wear Personal Protective Equipment, specifically regarding masks. The use of gloves and gowns will be at your discretion. All such PPE will be supplied by the agency as needed, but we’ll be asking you to dispose of the used PPE yourselves.
All visits will need to be supervised by agency staff, involve social distancing of at least six-feet and must be conducted in the outdoor areas within the grounds; for infection-control purposes, visitors cannot be allowed within the facility itself. And unfortunately, we won’t be able to allow you to take your loved ones away from the program, such as for a home visit, at this time.
We’re sorry that there have to be so many rules right now, and we look forward to returning things back to normal as soon as we can. So again, we appreciate your patience.
If you have any questions, please contact your assigned program director or call 631-878-8900.
Dear IGHL Employees and Community,
IGHL has been committed to the struggle for human rights for over 40 years. Since the horrors and indignities exposed at the Willowbrook State School, our fight has advanced high quality treatment, dignity, and self-determination for people with disabilities. We have sought justice for a group of people for whom a rightful stake in their own community has been denied.
The connection of our mission, historically and presently, to the plight of communities of color unite us in purpose. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, for the first time in history, provided legal protection to people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, furthered these protections to grant those with disabilities equal access to employment and public accommodations. It was, however, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that provided federal protection against discrimination to minorities that paved the way for similar legal safeguards to people with disabilities. As we continue our mission to ensure equal access and quality of life to those we serve, we cannot ignore the parallel fight against the injustices and indignities perpetuated by acts and attitudes of racism.
The horrific deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others painfully remind us that, over a half-century since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, individual and systemic racism continue to plague our society. We write today to affirm that IGHL stands proudly with our employees and the community in the fight for social justice, racial equality, and human dignity for all people. Our organization represents a diverse group of employees and individuals; through our diversity we are brighter, stronger, and possess greater potential for positive growth and transformative change. Together, we must help sustain an environment where every person feels welcome, heard, valued and safe. When we succeed at this, we advance our ability to serve individuals, each other, and the betterment of society.
These times have become overwhelming for many, and unbearable for some. For those who need assistance, please seek support from loved ones, friends, and professionals. We offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) program and our HR department is prepared to help. We can directly impact change through our daily interactions with one another, and in the values embraced as an organization. In the workplace, home, and community, create and encourage others to foster a sense of belonging. Be mindful of the words we choose and the attitudes they may reflect or imply. Listen empathically to the perspective and experiences of others. On a macro level, contact local and state representatives to urge legislation advancing social justice, support organizations that advocate for civil rights, and join collective efforts to eliminate discrimination and structural racism.
Please know that IGHL will continue to advocate for the rights of individuals, ensure respect and dignity for our employees, and support the advancement of equality and justice across society.
Be safe, strong, and contribute to positive progress,
Frank Lombardi, Executive Director, IGHL
Walter Stockton, President and CEO
We hope that this update finds you well and finding ways to enjoy the improving spring weather.
We are happy to report that we’ve been employing some very successful methods to address the Covid-19 issues that have impacted every aspect of our mission. We’re constantly amazed at the dedication that our Direct Support Staff shows every single day. To this point, we’ve substantially minimized our consumers and staff’s exposure to the virus, of which is the result of constant vigilance and a lot of hard work. With the constant support of their management, administrative and all of the other support teams, they’re implementing the best possible ways to address Covid-related issues, such as cleanliness and supervision strategies, and to find creative ways to make staying-at-home a bit more enjoyable.
We continue our efforts to force our government partners to see this emergency through our eyes, trying our best, with the help of our fellow agencies and alliances, to secure the funding we need to continue to do all of our hard work.
We’ve also been showing our appreciation to our wonderful nursing staff during Nurses Appreciation week. Their advocacy, professionalism and care are characteristics that we benefit from every day; no matter the circumstances. But, during these times, where the health of our consumers is even more vulnerable, this special week couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
And, in the midst of all that is being experienced, we’ve also been heartened, and quite honestly inspired, by the responses that we’ve gotten from our parents, families, neighbors and friends; people whose lives have been changed as much as ours have been, but have taken the time and efforts to let us know how our work has impacted themselves and their family members. We thought we’d share some of those responses, that have come to us in a variety of ways:
We heard from a family supporter, who’s been involved with IGHL for decades, that wrote “These challenges, in addition to others, have required Team IGHL to “go above & beyond” in the discharge of their duties to care for our consumers while placing themselves & their families‘ health at risk….I’ve always been proud of my affiliation with IGHL, never more than now…There is never any doubt that the best care & interest of our consumers is always the number one priority…Please inform Team IGHL members how much your consumers, families & friends appreciate their skills, dedication, loyalty & heroism.”…
The Family Association of CDD has offered to provide lunch wraps for the entire agency, at their expense, with the sentiment that Who Takes the Child by the Hand, Takes the Family by the Heart…In the midst of this crisis, you have stepped up in so many ways – to care for our loved ones when we cannot…We have seen your acts of selflessness and heroism, both large and small, and we want you to know how much you mean to us…May this lunch “wrap” you in love and keep you safe…You Know You Will Always Remain in Our Hearts…With our sincerest good wishes and admiration…
One of our residents recently celebrated their birthday, the result of some real human kindness by the staff at Angela’s House I in East Moriches. Their family wrote to us saying “The birthday parade for our son was one of his best birthday celebrations! It meant the world to us to see that smile on his face! We miss him terribly, but are so grateful for Angela’s House!”…
The neighbors of our CDD 86 ICF residence bought lunch for all the staff and residents as a show of their support and recognition of our Direct Support Staff as being front-line “heroes”…
In a wonderful show of support, a long-standing member of our Board of Directors, John Fallon, and his family donated 30 pizzas that Walter and Frank personally delivered…nothing shows appreciation better than a good slice, delivered!...
Another of our residents who lives at the Angela’s House III in Stony Brook celebrated a birthday, with the family emailing us, saying “…It’s hard to put into words. Such a difficult time was turned around ...seeing so many people show up for the triplets was uplifting. It has been a hard and uncertain time, but it is the good in people, the wanting to be there for others that is the gift. That’s what you hold on to. It made us smile, laugh and cry. It gives us hope. I think seeing the good in people is what made it so special and a day we will always remember…it was beautiful and so special…”…
And, from a family member, who’s sister is a resident in an IGHL IRA…“my mom was dying…[IGHL staff] arranged for my mom to do Facetime with my sister so she could see her one last time…talk about going over and beyond!...it is such a nice feeling knowing my sister is in such great hands!...words can’t even tell you how much I appreciate this amazing group!!”…
So, it’s always good to have confidence in your own efforts, but it’s always better to hear directly from those who are actually touched by those efforts.
We hope this finds you and yours healthy and safe.
Our consumers, staff and families have been setting an amazing example as we near the end of March. There have been too many examples of patience, love and heroism to mention here, but we’d like to express our sincere appreciation to everyone for another week of selflessness and dedication to the people we serve.
We’ve been doing everything we can to insure that our programs are fully staffed and equipped with the materials they need so that everyone is properly supervised, well-fed and well-protected.
We’ve been monitoring the massive amount of information that is coming from our federal and state government partners and implementing all known best practices. We’re doing our best to be available and to communicate with you, our staff and our partners in the community to make sure you have all the information you need.
The diligence of our support systems; from our Management and Administrative team, to our Finance department, our Human Resources team, our Purchasing, Maintenance, Custodial, Vehicle Maintenance, Development and Transportation staff, our Clerical, Clinical and Nursing staff, to our Information Technology and Quality Assurance teams has been nothing less than astonishing.
And last but most importantly; our Direct Support Professionals. They are the real heroes, being out there every day, working their shifts and then some, leaving their families to take care of ours, providing our consumers the best they have to offer all day, every day. We cannot begin to recognize their contribution, dedication and how much they truly care.
We’re looking forward to April now, with the hope of warmer weather and bluer sky’s.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!.
First, please be aware that until further notice, all IGHL Day Habilitation programs will be closed as of 5:00p tonight, March 17th.
All agency Day Habilitation staff are being reassigned to our residential ICF and IRA sites during the day in order to provide Day Habilitation services in their home settings.
Families that have their loved ones living with them at home will be contacted individually to see what we can do for you.
Also, please know that all IGHL administrative services are and will remain in full operation and will always be there for our consumers, staff and families.
Finally, please know that for the safety of our consumers, any and all visitation to any and all of our program sites is now absolutely prohibited until further notice.
If for whatever reason a consumer is removed from their place of residence by anyone other than agency staff, be that by family or friends, that consumer will not be allowed to reenter the residence, and therefore will be in the care of that family or those friends until further notice.
We always appreciate the support we receive during critical times, and these times are no exception.
Please contact us @ 631-878-8900 if you have any questions or concerns.
We hope this notice finds you well. Please know that we are doing everything possible to insure that our staff and your loved ones are kept safe and sound. To that end, please know the following:
- We are monitoring government guidance that is being updated several times a day. With that guidance in mind, we are implementing the following immediately:
- All of our ICF program consumers will be staying home until further notice, therefore they will not be attending day program or going out into community settings.
- All visitation at our ICF programs is prohibited until further notice. Only absolutely essential medical interventions by outside parties will be allowed.
- All staff working at our ICF programs must be screened for elevated temperatures before starting their shifts.
- All ICF staff must wear protective masks when they’re working directly with our individuals.
- Some of our more medically frail IRA programs, such as our Angela’s Houses I, II and III IRAs, will be operating under these same ICF guidelines.
- Our other IRA programs are being managed in much the same way, in that we are strongly discouraging visitation, and for everyone’s safety, minimizing everyone’s exposure to community settings.
- All of our day habilitation programs will be in full operation until further notice, however again, visitation is strongly discouraged. All persons outside of assigned staff are to use only the front door entrance.
- We have insured that we have adequate food and medical equipment supplies in stock, and will continue to work with our vendors to insure that we maintain those supply levels.
- We have prepared protocols to insure that proper isolation techniques are in place as the need arises.
- The gym at the Manorville Opportunity Center will be closed until further notice.
- We have implemented “Microsoft Teams” for our video conferencing needs. Training for agency staff and families on setting up Teams accounts has already been sent to all program management and administrative staff.
Please remember that this is a very fluid situation that we are monitoring minute by minute. Please again know that everyone’s health and safety is our highest priority, that we’ll be keeping you in touch along the way and that we appreciate your support and patience.
Please contact your main administrative office if you have any questions.
Dear IGHL and all affiliate families and friends,
We’d like to take this opportunity to keep you informed of all of our efforts to address the current Covid-19 situation. Our goals include staying calm while being proactive and enacting an abundance of caution, keeping every one of our family; consumers, staff and families as safe and healthy as possible and to be as transparent in our efforts as we can be.
First, please be aware that we are using the guidance of the national Centers for Disease Control and the NYS Department of Health as our primary sources of information. You can assess much of the same information by accessing www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019 and www.health.ny.gov. As importantly, we recognize that the situation is very fluid, likely to change at a moment’s notice. We will do our best to keep everyone as informed as we can.
Being health-related providers, using what are called “universal precautions” is standard operating practice. All staff are well-trained in these practices, of which include;
In additional, staff are being instructed to:
We would also like to let families and friends know that we have provided our staff with the information shown above, as well as:
Finally, we know that communication is our greatest asset and we’ll do everything we can to keep everyone informed. We encourage anyone with any questions regarding our agency-wide efforts to contact the executive administration offices @ 631-878-8900.