March 26, 2020

Dear Key family,

We are in an unprecedented time right now. The health and safety of the individuals we serve and staff are a top priority. We continue to monitor the rapidly changing news related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and are making the necessary adjustments to our work and operations.

In the last three weeks, our direct care and retail services have gone through significant changes, and the situation continues to be fluid.  We are closely following the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines and recommendations on the steps we can take to help prevent the spread of the virus. All Key Center’s facilities, restrooms, and all common areas are cleaned and sanitized daily. In addition, frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, chairs, light switches, handles, desks, faucets, sinks, and other commonly used items are cleaned multiple times per day.

We urge everyone to be diligent and practice safe hygiene.  Remember to keep up with the recommendations from the health experts: wash your hands (20 seconds at least), social distancing (6-feet), stay at home if you’re sick, cough into your elbow, and don’t touch your face.  All individuals at the Key Center are encouraged to wash their hands with soap multiple times per day, and we have displayed signs illustrating proper disease prevention practices.  Every day, all Key Center staff and clients are being screened, temperatures taken, and spoken to often about their health. We are taking everyday precautions to keep social distancing space between individuals.

To date, we have had no confirmed cases for COVID-19 within our clients and staff.  To the best of our knowledge, two staff members were tested with negative results.  We do have the typical instances of the regular flu, sinus, and allergies. Although this is a very fast-spreading virus, the survivability rate is exceptionally high.  Some people may get the virus and never have any detrimental or long-lasting effects.  The ideology of these current actions being taken will not cure this virus, but it will slow the curve of people being infected.  Some claims are that at least 80% of the United States will be directly affected by COVID-19, with 10% very adversely affected.  Conservative estimates say at least 50% of the United States will have been exposed or have the virus. As citizens of our communities, we are trying to limit the exposure to the main people that will be adversely affected if they are infected. These include older adults, people with severe underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. 

In an event we have a confirmed COVID-19 case in a residential group home, procedures in place that the resident will be immediately transferred to a safe location with a home type atmosphere for isolation purposes.  Our Director of Nursing, Sue Manfredi, RN-BS, is trained in infection control and will be taking the lead of this situation if this was to occur.  We will work closely with local health officials, in conjunction with and parents/guardians, to determine the next health and quarantine actions. 

The outbreak of COVID-19 is causing stress, anxiety, fears, and significant concerns across our nation.  Please know that as anything changes will be communicating with you as soon as we can. Don’t panic, stay informed, and communicate often, and we will get through this with some new habits that will help us through the rest of our lives.

Our direct care staff is essential to ensuring the health and safety of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities they support.

They are “essential staff” all the time, especially during a global health pandemic.  Our staff’s creative juices are flowing from providing off-campus ADT services in our group homes to putting 6-foot social distancing taped lines at the register areas in the stores. These actions truly reinforce the great American spirit that when we are presented with severe challenges, there are always ways to overcome and triumph.

The Key Center’s Executive team is gathering every other day to ensure we are meeting and responding to our COVID-19 daily challenges and preparing for possible future scenarios. As many States have enacted stay-at-home orders, we are preparing for that possibility.  Our Residential and ADT staff has proper documentation allowing them to travel for Key Center work purposes. 

Our retail stores have always been at the heart of our community – a role we take seriously.  The stores are following the guidance of the CDC and other health officials. The Retail Operations Department has taken several extra health and wellbeing measures best to meet the needs of our staff and customers. Social distancing practices of 6 Feet are in place, hours were temporarily adjusted to ensure a clean and safe environment, and plexiglass barriers were added to customer cash register areas.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call:

Melissa Walker, Executive Director                           352.795-5541 ext. 203

Theresa Flick, Director of Program Operations         352.795.5541  ext. 224

Barbara Branch, Director of Day Services                352.795.5541  ext.  244

Cole Kiser, Director of Residential Services             352.795.5541  ext.  227

Tinker Bowen, Director of Key Center Foundation   352.795.5541  ext. 106

I recently changed my office letter board to read “WE WILL ALL GET THROUGH COVID -19 TOGETHER”!  Please continue to keep all the Key staff and clients in your prayers, and for our community, that is being impacted by this crisis.

Sincerely,

Melissa Walker

Executive Director

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