13 Sep Adaptations and Expectations During a Global Pandemic

No one could have seen the events of 2020 coming. Even as the first reports of COVID-19 began trickling in – very few could have predicted the magnitude and longevity of this pandemic and its impact. The YOC is no different. While policies and procedures are in place to provide guidance and structure during events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the details and nuances of keeping a residential treatment facility running and operating effectively and efficiently in these circumstances require diligence and strong leadership.

So, as the full weight of the pandemic settled in – so too did the staff and leadership of the YOC. To navigate the new and everchanging “normal” has required (and continues to require) the utmost dedication from staff. Virtually every aspect of YOC operations have adapted in some way – all the while, our expectations of excellence have remained high. To continue providing the standard of care we’ve come to be known for, while adhering to new restrictions and requirements in a greatly adapted environment has been nothing short of miraculous, and is due in majority to our stellar staff who have showed up every day. Making the decision early on to close our campus to all visitors was important and necessary, but also put a great deal of pressure on the YOC IT department to source, vet, approve and implement the best in HIPAA-compliant virtual platforms. This allowed staff and residents to continue communications – including video visits – with families, Family Case Managers and Probation Officers. In addition, the majority of staff meetings became virtual, and staff who were able began working from home when possible.

All of these adaptations required a great deal of effort and commitment on the part of the IT team to facilitate while maintaining the highest expectations of privacy, cyber-safety and convenience. Direct care staff were tasked with finding new and creative ways to keep residents engaged, productive and interactive, all while being restricted from large group gatherings and off-site activities. As schools closed, staff were also responsible for ensuring e-learning requirements were met. Further, staff and residents alike were held to higher hygiene and social standards, with increased hand washing and enforced social distancing.

The list of adaptations goes on and on, and the majority of these adaptations are still in place today as we observe how this pandemic plays out. Our first and foremost commitment remains the health and safety of our residents and staff. To date, we believe these adaptations coupled with our consistently high expectations has resulted in minimal exposure and presence of the virus among our residents and staff.

To adapt to the constantly changing environment caused by a global pandemic without ever faltering in maintaining the highest standard of care has required a consistent team effort, dedicated staff, constant communication and a unified leadership team. While times are and will remain challenging, the events of the past months have made it quite clear that the YOC is prepared and dedicated to the work we do and the
expectations we maintain.

To support the YOC’s COVID-19 response efforts, go to alliesforhope.com.

This story is adapted from the Summer 2020 YOC Foundations newsletter.